2011 SRC Outstanding PSO Award

Best Practices

Organization of Cornell Planners
Cornell University
Department of City and Regional Planning
Master's in Regional Planning Program

Fall 2011 Symposium Projects:

  • Beyond Boundaries: A Regional Planning Symposium
  • Moving Forward: An Active Transportation Symposium

Realizing a desire within the Cornell community to engage in applied-planning discussion, the Organization of Cornell Planners (OCP) chose to provide two forums where practitioners could demonstrate real planning successes and reflect on challenges faced by those in the field.

Beyond Boundaries brought together a housing planner from the City of Portland, Oregon; the Director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway, which establishes conservation lands through voluntary regional cooperation; and the principal regional planner from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). They discussed the strategies employed by their organizations to build public support and input for public housing, transportation, equity and climate change issues. They demonstrated how communities engaged with these issues often face constraints or pressures from outside their local structures and how participation and coordination at the broader regional level helps a community meet its needs, share its stressors and enjoy a larger voice in the planning scenario.

Moving Forward, a widely popular event, brought together three nationally recognized experts in non-motorized transportation from research, advocacy and planning practice backgrounds to engage with students, faculty and community members around advances and ideas in policy and physical planning related to "active" transportation. Active transportation planning is a rapidly emerging topic that buttresses crucial community concerns through the development of physical plans that support personally powered transport. The related concerns deal with energy security, health, climate change, smart growth principles and neighborhood scale design, conservation lands, and corridor planning.

View a photo collage of the events (pdf)

Read the projects' letters of support (pdf)

Planning and Implementation

The planning process for both events drew together OCP members into creative design committees to encourage and coordinate the message, organize logistics and facilitate group sharing and discussion. We gained the early support of the department and continued planning with the input of students, sponsoring entities, and supporting organizations. Students prepared budgets, soliciting funding sources to support the events.

Both events pursued special funding from the Graduate Professional Student Association (GPSAFC) which weighed the importance of the events against other student-organization needs at the University. Each committee achieved full GPSAFC funding and the Moving Forward committee went on to attract funding from other sources:

  • Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council (ITCTC)
  • Cornell Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP)
  • Ithaca College Sustainability Initiative
  • Cornell Student Assembly Financial Committee (SAFC)
  • Cornell University Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Finger Lakes Cycling Club


The strength of the topics and their importance to the surrounding community is most easily recognized by their attendance. Beyond Boundaries averaged 80 attendees at each of the three events and Moving Forward attracted a total of about 400 attendees over three days at six events.

While the symposia broadened the reach of planning issues throughout the Cornell community and served once again to strengthen professional ties to the Department of Landscape Architecture, Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, Planning Students for Diversity and the Cornell Women’s Planning Forum, we also created ties to the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Finger Lakes Cycling Club, Ithaca College, NYS DOT, Tompkins County Public Library and the Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council. Amazingly, Moving Forward concluded with the creation of a community-supported conceptual plan for a bicycle boulevard network in the City of Ithaca, a project conceived by one of our own students — MRP candidate Tom Knipe.


Eric VanderMaas, 516-991-4062.