December/January from the President

Candi Millar, AICP, gives an update as the board president of Western Planning Resources, Inc. (WPR), which publishes The Western Planner.

My association with The Western Planner (WP) began in the early 1990s when I became a member of the Montana Association of Planners (MAP). At that time, MAP was a sustaining state; that is MAP paid for a Journal subscription for each of its members. The subscription fee was $10 for sustaining state members, so MAP contributed approximately $1,000 annually for the cost of editing and printing the Journal. The other six sustaining states also contributed which provided a relatively reliable source of income for WPR.

Unfortunately, in the last five years, four state planning organizations repealed their status leaving their members free to subscribe, but as individuals. WP’s reliable funding source dwindled to only three sustaining states: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Individual subscriptions also dropped drastically, and the publication of the WP Journal was in jeopardy. In 2015, several states generously contributed stopgap funds to help WP transition to a more sustainable organizational model (Montana, New Mexico, and Nevada).

You are now reading, either in print or on your monitor, the last published issue of the WP Journal. Beginning in January 2017, interesting, relevant and informative articles related to Planning in the West will be available online for free. In fact, the WP website is now entirely reformatted for this purpose – check it out at www.westernplanner.org. Both current and archived articles are accessible.

This change did not occur overnight but over several years of the WPR Board of Directors struggling with the challenge of dismantling the old organizational model and creating a new, facile and sustainable model that adheres to our core mission of providing “a network of professional and citizen planners to share vital and relevant knowledge…” What has emerged is an organization that provides free online access to articles written by Western Planners and supported through sponsorships from state planning organizations, businesses, and individuals. We liken this model to National Public Radio “which is supported by members like you.” There is no longer a subscription fee, there is no membership, and there is no tiered classification of state planning organization – just sponsorship levels.

The website will be funded through sponsorships. Depending on the sponsorship level, certain benefits are offered. When I, for example, donate $100 per year, I become a “Friend of Western Planner.” If I had a business, I would be entitled to two advertisements and recognition on the website for six months. Please note that the donation is tax deductible.

I’m excited about these changes and privileged to have served as the WPR President these past two years. It wasn’t easy to make these changes; at times it was aggravating, contentious and seemingly futile – sounds like planning doesn’t it? We ended up with an excellent product, though, and I want to thank all those Board Directors and our Editor Rachel Girt, who worked so hard on the changes, including our new bylaws and strategic plan. I’m proud of what has been accomplished and know you will enjoy the new look and viewing options. Most of all, please consider becoming a sponsor. The sponsorship information can be found online at www.westernplanner.org/donate.

I can’t end my tenure as President without recognizing the changes we face in the years to come because of the national elections. While some of these changes may benefit our communities: infrastructure improvements and inner-city revitalization, others will undoubtedly undermine past efforts in social equity and environmental protection. As planners, we are on the frontline of these changes, probably the actual battle ground. Stand fast to your values and ethics and lead with assurance. In all cases, do the right thing.
It has been an honor serving The Western Planner. Take care.



Candi Millar, AICP, recently retired as the Director of the Planning and Community Services Department for the City of Billings, Montana.  She served as the president of Western Planning Resources, Inc. from 2014 through the end of 2016.


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