The conference interface allowed attendees to personalize their profiles and connect their socials. This would be a great addition to future in-person conferences so that attendees could easily stay in touch.
Name: Alexander Resnick
Degree Program: MASTER OF URBAN PLANNING
Specialization: MUP-City and Community Planning
Conference Host Organization/Institution: American Planning Association
Conference/Competition Name: National Planning Conference 2021
Conference Term: Spring Conference Start Date: 2021-05-05 Conference End Date: 2021-05-07
What were your takeaways from this conference/case competition?
This conference opened up my ideas to what kinds of organizations I could work with after the completion of my degree. In conversations with peers in the MUP program, we default to working within municipal government, especially within planning agencies. However, many of the speakers of this conference who inspired me most work in nonprofits and for housing developers who wield more discretionary power to actually affect change. An example that comes to mind as I say this was the group of speakers from Development Strategies; a private firm based in Saint Louis. I'm becoming more open to that.
How will your participation in this conference/case competition support your professional development?
While presentations were often based in highly technical research, there was a call for everyone to think interdisciplinarily and build community. This is critical to actually administer services in light of COVID, to rebuild power structures with explicitly anti-racist intent, and to successfully manage retreat from coastal areas and flood plains as we mitigate the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities. I often worry that I do not have enough technical skills (that's where I'm focusing my energy in school), but this conference really encouraged me to highlight the communication and organizing skills that I do have going forward.
What are some next steps or action items this conference/case competition inspired?
I have a lot of experience outside of urban planning working within the immigration system. Many societal and economic issues that push people out of their homes abroad are intertwined with climate change. I spent a lot of time in this conference listening to speakers discuss the idea of "managed retreat," or managing climate-migration on a local level, and I see a lot of connections between these pressures pushing people across municipalities and those being pushed across borders. I plan to reach out to the organizations working in this space (e.g. Climigration) and see what actions I could help with.
What are some tips or best practices that you would like to share with other Wagner students who attend a conference/case competition?
Jump at opportunities to attend in-person discussions and conferences! Even though organizations try to incorporate more organic networking sessions into online events, there really is no replacement for the organic discussions that come from being in the same room as peers and practitioners. Often, the most fruitful interpersonal interactions that can come from online events are in those webinars where participants can share their video when asking questions. Join those small one-off discussions organized by Wagner and other organizations. It's way more personal than just dialing in!
Wagner Areas of Impact: Cities, Housing, Inequality, Race, and Poverty, Leadership, Nonprofits