A few years I ago I prepared a brief for the Fellows on the American Planning Association (APA). At the time, I suggested that CIP could benefit from the kind of robust membership base enjoyed by APA – not just because it would strengthen CIP’s national role but because it would make economic sense. In view of the present difficulties faced by CIP, I am wondering if it is time to revisit the APA model.
To recap, APA has more than 40,000 members. Only one third of that number is “professional” – members of AICP. The rest are members of the interested public who sit on planning boards (including elected officials), community committees and the like. They participate in the business of the local chapters and turn up in droves at national conferences. Even though their dues are modest, they collectively contribute handsomely to the APA budget.
I personally believe that CIP should remain as a membership organization. If CIP were to establish a “public” category of membership, engaging what I call the “interested public” in our planning debates, this would enhance the organization’s relevance and – if introduced with some subtlety – could help mend fences with what we use to call affiliates (someone please come up with a better acronym than PTIA – Google thinks a PTIA is a preferential trade and investment agreement!).
The planning profession is not immune to the demographic shift underway. We continue to graduate scores of planners every year. If we realistically expect this new generation of planners to be active members of the profession, it is important that CIP demonstrate it is connected to the communities they – and we – all call home.
Emphasizing bold over bland could be a way forward for the Institute.
Glenn Miller, FCIP, RPP