I’m pleased and privileged to post my first blog entry on behalf of the Southern Nevada Chapter of ASPA. I just came back from a trip to the Tuscany region of Italy. I had the pleasure of visiting the area for the fifth time, but this time also included a conference in the Siena area, on Ecosystems and Sustainable Development. This conference, sponsored by the Wessex Institute of Technology, brings together academics, administrators, practitioners, and industry representatives to discuss various topics of common interest, mostly focused on science, technology, and environmental issues. I’ve spoken at a number of their conferences, and I am always struck by the fact that many of the “lessons learned” discussed by the presenters seem to boil down to a few common themes: (1) vision; (2) communication; (3) stakeholder involvement; (4) system stability and flexibility to respond to change; (5) adequacy of resources; and (6) political will to make change.
It strikes me that what is most important about attending these conferences is the opportunity to compare notes, share lessons learned, and develop some replicable and transferable solutions to what are turning out to be issues of global concern and common interest. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re from Las Vegas, Nevada, or Asia, or South Africa, or Italy, or whether you are approaching the problem from an academic or practitioner’s point of view. The point is that we share one planet, and we are more alike than we are different. I should mention that because I work for local government, I attend these conferences on my own time, and on my own dime. I don’t mind, though. It’s that important for me to invest in continuing education for myself, and to invest in bringing home important lessons to my colleagues and co-workers, in an effort to improve our community and bring the best ideas and solutions to the people we represent.
Since ASPA is all about networking and professional development, I thought this was a fitting first subject to include in the blog. And, since the issue of sustainability is a cross-cutting issue and very much at the forefront for both academic research and public service agencies, I should also mention our local chapter efforts to partner with the local chapter of the American Planning Association at a recent workshop on Sustainability. As part of our local chapter’s theme of “Community First” this year, we are looking to expand our networks, strengthen partnerships, and invest in professional development opportunities that can have an immediate and significant impact on our stakeholders and citizens. I look forward to using this blog as a tool to learn and share with my fellow public administration professionals.