Creating Latinos and Planning was a 21st century bootstrap effort involving more than a dozen planning professionals and academics — all volunteers — who never met in person and worked on a combined budget of less than $2,000. Together, they engaged more than 210 professionals and created a national agenda for action.
Latinos and Planning was started in April 2005 by Rutgers University Instructor Leonardo Vazquez, who teaches at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Vazquez has been working on issues involving ethnic diversity and planning since 1998, and he posted e-mails to various networks saying that he would like to create "some kind of entity" in APA to address issues facing Hispanic planners and communities.
Latinos are the most underrepresented ethnic group in APA. Though Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the United States — at least 14 percent of the U.S. population — they represent less than 3 percent of APA membership. With the exception of a few majority Hispanic municipalities, Latino planners are often a small minority in their field. In addition, there are few Latino planners in executive positions in the field.
Over the spring and summer, Vazquez attracted volunteers from California, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Maryland, Washington D.C., and other states. The effort was given a seed grant by the Bloustein School Dean's Office in Fall 2005. The grant helped pay for conference calls, organizing forums in New York and New Jersey, and promotional materials.
The volunteers became local organizers who engaged their peers in forums — called dialogos (Spanish for "dialogues") — that led to a national agenda for action. The dialogos focused on two questions: What are the biggest challenges facing Latino planners? What are the biggest planning challenges facing Latino communities?
Participants were ethnically diverse, but the majority were Latino planning and community development professionals. Ten dialogos were held between October 2005 and November 2006. Two more are scheduled, and more are being planned. The dialogos and the group's bylaws reflect the concerns of professionals across the country.
A number of organizations provided donations of funds, services or space to support Latinos and Planning.
- Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- American Planning Association
- New Jersey Chapter
- New York Metro Chapter
- Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Committee, Virginia Chapter
- City of San Jose, California
- Independence Community Bank
- Latino Urban Forum
- Pratt Institute, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
- University of Maryland Sea Grant Program
- University of Michigan, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning