What Happened at the 2017 Policy and Advocacy Conference

Planners descended on Washington, D.C., September 24-26, 2017, for three days of panel discussions, provoking keynotes, and action on Capitol Hill at the largest Policy and Advocacy Conference ever. Here were some of the standout events.


Mobile Workshops across D.C.

Before the conference officially opened, planners got out in the District for three mobile workshops. Attendees made their way to the NoMa neighborhood in Northeast D.C. to visit several affordable housing projects and learn how neighborhood stakeholders have ensured that the rapidly developing area is accessible to all Washingtonians, regardless of income.


Walking tour of NoMa neighborhood showcasing affordable housing developments during #APAPAC17

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The Planners4Health community connected with Call to Action partners to learn about healthy places in Washington, D.C. Tours were held at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Center for Landscape Architecture and Green Roof as well as in parks staffed by National Recreation and Park Association members.

New Policy Guide Adopted

The APA Delegates Assembly, convening at the Policy and Advocacy Conference for the first time, adopted the Healthy Communities policy guide on Sunday. Thanks to all who have engaged and supported its development.

Is Federal Data Collection in Jeopardy?

Federal data, smart cities, and civic innovation was the focus of the 2017 Daniel Burnham Forum on Big Ideas.

John Thompson, the former U.S. Census bureau director and current executive director of the Council of Professional Association on Federal Statistics, laid out today’s landscape of federal data collection and tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. He also discussed the Census Bureau’s preparations for the 2020 Census, its federal funding challenges, and why it matters. A panel discussion followed his talk.



From ‘winner take all urbanism’ to ‘urbanism for all’

Richard Florida, best known for his work on the creative class, opened Monday’s conference discussing the role equity and inclusiveness should play in economic development. Florida’s talk focused around growing spatial inequality, in the United States, and how cities and regions can shift towards more inclusive growth strategies.   


‘The most exciting opportunities are in places entirely out of reach for typical Americans’

Ryan Avent, senior editor and columnist for The Economist, addressed the impact of advancing technology and automation on cities, the economy, and the future of employment. Rising inequality, both economic and spatial, combined with sky-high housing costs in booming cities such as San Francisco, means middle-class and working-class workers will be continually shut out of rises in standard of living, according to Avent.


Reimagining the Civic Commons

Closing Monday’s sessions was a panel presentation and discussion from the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, led by Lynn Ross, AICP, and leaders from the cities of Detroit, Philadelphia, and Akron. The panelists discussed projects and strategies in their cities that have been working to bring together people of different backgrounds and democratize public space through connecting parks, plazas, and trails together.



Planners’ Day

The conference culminated with planners taking their message to the halls of Congress for Planners' Day on the Hill. APA members from Alaska to Virginia met with their representatives to stand up for key planning programs and initiatives.

Top photo: Planners meet with staff members of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) during Planners’ Day on Capitol Hill. Photo by Thomas Van Veen, Documentary Associates.

About the Author
Dustin Calliari is APA's content marketing coordinator.

September 27, 2017

By Dustin Calliari