At the end of September 2022, the American Planning Association Illinois Chapter (APA-IL) hosted their annual state conference in Chicago, IL at the Old Post Office. This conference was a showcase of the best planning practices, opportunities for learning, and allowed for networking among industry professionals. The state conference is where the melding of theoretical planning and practical planning coalesce to create a unique learning environment. This year’s unique location allowed for a very large number of students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to attend and learn first-hand how industry professionals are place-making and groundbreaking the planning profession forward.
For the APA-IL 2022 State Conference, UIUC had the largest turnout ever. Sixty-five students attended from the Department of Urban & Regional Planning. This was not only driven by the location of the state conference but the ability to learn in such a rich and vibrant city with so much to offer.
During my time attending the APA-IL 2022 Conference, I was greeted with networking and educational opportunities through practical, real-world planning sessions and workshops. There were two sessions that stuck out the most, not only because they aligned with my interests but also the interests of people in my profession. INVEST Southwest was the first session that captivated my interest, as this was revolutionary. Coming from Texas, with local leaders not prioritizing equity investments, it was refreshing and inspiring to see the collaboration between industry, community, and the city to invest in communities in need. The second session that fits in line with my interests was the USGS/NASA View from the Top workshop. It is important for students to see innovations and industries push discussions forward that bring heat islands, their affects on a city, and tactics to combat them to the forefront.
The APA-IL 2022 Conference allowed me and fellow students to participate and grow our knowledge in a welcoming, inclusive, diverse environment.
-- Nicholas Collins, Graduate Student, Master of Urban Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign