Summary and Charge for Town Hall Meetings

Summary of the APA National Infrastructure Investment Task Force, its initiative Rebuilding America, and the Charge for Town Hall Meetings

Rebuilding America: APA National Infrastructure Investment Task Force: Town Hall Meeting Toolkit, 2010–2011 continues APA's Rebuilding America initiative by delivering the charge for nationwide town hall meetings regarding the nation's growing infrastructure needs. The Toolkit provides step-by-step instructions for organizing an effective town hall meeting, tips for promoting your event and gaining media coverage, as well as the procedures for reporting your meeting's results to the Task Force.

Task Force Mission

The mission of the task force is to evaluate current conditions and challenges affecting the nation's vital infrastructure, develop a new vision for the nation's infrastructure, and identify specific recommendations for changes in public policy, funding, and planning practice needed to meet the infrastructure needs of the 21st century. This work will lay out a blueprint for action needed to increase and improve performance, competitiveness, community quality of life, citizen choice, equity, and efficiency. The task force's work and recommendations will become linked to key legislative initiatives, federal infrastructure commissions, existing and potential programs, and funding mechanisms.

Task Force Structure

The task force is led by three co-chairs: APA President Bruce Knight, FAICP; APA Immediate Past President Robert Hunter, FAICP; and APA Past President David Siegel, FAICP. Additionally, eight planning experts are appointed to (co–)chair six infrastructure sub–categories: Transportation – Robert A. Leiter, FAICP and Diana C. Mendes, AICP; Water and Wastewater – Kelli Sertich, AICP and Joseph A. Scorcio, AICP; Energy – Ingrid N. Kelly; Technology and Telecommunications – Kathleen McMahon, AICP; Public Facilities – Paul S. Tischler; and Green Infrastructure – Karen S. Walz, FAICP. (See Exhibit Gin the Appendix for a diagram of the Task Force's organizational structure).

Phase One: Reports From the Field

On October 20, 2008 APA hosted the National Design Professionals Infrastructure Summit in Washington, DC. The Summit brought planners, architects, landscape architects, and engineers together to engage in a focused discussion on the state of the nation's infrastructure. Participants set their sights forward by beginning to outline a new vision for federal infrastructure policy and investment. During the day–long series of sessions and events, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D – OR) – a strong proponent of infrastructure policy reform – challenged the group to consider new dynamics and funding structures to renew America's transportation systems, infrastructure, and economic engines.

Following the October 2008 Summit, the task force began conducting a series of regional field hearings throughout the United States to identify major issues of local regional concern related to infrastructure policy and investment. The seven nationwide hearings convened regional leaders, planners, issue experts, academics, allied professionals, and engaged citizens (See Exhibit A in the Appendix for a brief outline of each of the Rebuilding America regional field hearings).

The Charge of the Town Hall Meetings

The regional field hearings enabled the task force to hear current issues, concerns, and new studies from regional leaders, planners, issue experts, academics, allied professionals, and engaged citizens across the country. With a goal of 50 town hall meetings to be held throughout 2010 and 2011, APA will engage planners, local leaders, and allied professionals in a sustained discussion on infrastructure investment, the implementation of policy, and practice recommendations.

The Task Force will release a preliminary recommendation report at the APA 2010 National Planning Conference in New Orleans. The report will summarize the Task Force's findings and propose specific recommendations covering both policy and practice at all levels of government.

Based on the information gained from the 2008–2009 regional field hearings and the preliminary report of by the Task Force, the town hall meetings provide a structured approach for local communities to join this national conversation.

APA would like Chapters to lead the charge in hosting town hall meetings, but also encourages anyone interested in holding a town hall meeting to do so.  Anyone interested in hosting a town hall will be directed to contact the APA Chapter that represents their community at the earliest stage of planning an event. This will help prevent any duplicating efforts and foster a broader, more collaborative discussion on strategy and expectations. By working closely with the Chapters, the Task Force can stay informed of all nationwide events.

This toolkit is a practical guide for considering, coordinating, facilitating, and reporting a town hall meeting in your community. As expanded herein, a successful event should involve the following:

  1. Working within the Chapter or contacting the appropriate APA Chapter to begin organizing an event;
  2. Designating a local or regional Facilitator as well as an Organizing Committee;
  3. Considering the level of interest in your area;
  4. Identifying potential collaborative partners;
  5. Determining the appropriate venue for the event;
  6. Drafting an agenda with representation from various infrastructure sectors;
  7. Reaching out to potential interest groups for participation and sponsorship;
  8. Promoting the event to the general public and media;
  9. Setting up registration and tracking attendance;
  10. Hosting and memorializing the event; and
  11. Reporting to APA's National Office.

The value of a town hall depends on both the organizers' vision and engagement of the community. This toolkit offers resources to guide you through each step of the process. In addition to the procedures outlined, an appendix of sample documents and relevant materials are included.

Thank you in advance for your support of Rebuilding America. By joining this critical dialogue, your efforts strengthen the future of infrastructure investment at the federal, state, and local levels – creating communities of lasting value!

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