2019 Western Planner / APA New Mexico Conference Complete
The Western Planner and the New Mexico Chapter of the American Planning Association recently completed their annual conference in early September in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nearly 250 planners from New Mexico and around the West came to the “City Different” to experience the unique culture, architecture and planning history.
These planners came together to learn best practices from each other and discuss current planning issues, but also to renew friendships and make new connections. The historic Drury Plaza hotel was the backdrop for the conference theme of “Planning our Places for a Changing Future”. The opening plenary started with Governor Herrera of Tesuque Pueblo who provided a blessing over the conference while young members of the tribe performed a traditional buffalo dance. This highlighted the connection of both planning in the West to our indigenous nations, but also the strong partnership and connection that exists locally in Santa Fe. with Veteran actor and comedian, Steven Michael Quezada welcomed attendees as the Opening Keynote Speaker along with several other local leaders including Allan Webber the mayor of Santa Fe, and Anna Hamilton, Chair of the Santa Fe County Commission.
The sessions were content rich and engaging. With over 45 sessions covering a wide variety of topics including sustainable development, mediation and engagement, water use, disaster mediation planning, and tribal planning. In addition, the multiple ethics and law-focused sessions were greatly appreciated by attendees. The mobile workshops were well attended, enlightening and enjoyable. Several walking tours touched on the historic and cultural significance of plazas and historic and indigenous communities around the greater Santa Fe region.
Conference activities extended into the evening each night. Attendees enjoyed the Sunday night opening reception on the roof of the Drury with catered food, beautiful vistas, and great company. The torchlight procession that is part of the Fiesta de Santa Fe, a 300 year old tradition, was visible from our vantage point.
For the Wyoming vs the World softball game, spoiler alert: Wyoming won the softball game. Wyoming always wins. The awards BBQ dinner happened later that night, with well deserved award winners honoring outstanding planners and projects from New Mexico and the West. (SEE AWARD WINNERS HERE). One highlight of the awards was the winners of the raffle, including free stays at the Drury, free registration to the next Western Planner conference, and $500 in cash.
Another highlight was the naming of a new award after a recently passed friend and long-time Western Planner board member, Ken Waido. The first Kenneth G. Waido Award for Planning Team Of The Year was presented to Santa Fe County, and Colleen Waido, Ken’s wife, was on hand to accept the honor. She gave an emotional speech about her and her husband’s involvement in Western Planner. “Every year it was like coming to a family reunion,” Colleen said. “We brought our kids every year, our summer vacations were planned around the Western Planner conferences. I hope you find that same passion so that this can be sustained for planning going forward in the future.”
Tuesday night saw both a pub crawl around Santa Fe and a successful meeting of the tribal and indigenous planning interest group. The meeting brought together tribal members and interested parties looking to form an APA group for tribal and indigenous planning. They hope to use the meeting and keep building momentum into future success for recognition of, and engagement with, tribal planning interests within the greater narrative of planning.
Describing the value of Western Planner and attending these conferences, Western Planner President, Dan Pava, said, “There is great value in being part of a network that transcends formal connections and results in friendships borne of shared experiences, celebrating building better communities. Attending this conference is an important part of connecting with that network.”
We look forward to renewing friendships and making new connections next year in Bismarck, ND August 26-28, 2020. We’ll see you there!
Santa Fe County
Dekker Perich Sabatini
Houston Engineering, Inc.
South Dakota Planners Association