At the World Planners Congress (WPC), in June, 2006 I witnessed a notable public paradigm shift when Planning Leaders from around the world issued a position paper on the New Urban Planning (Farmer et al., 2006). In 2006, the authors stated that New Urban Planning was smart planning because it is a responsive learning system. It embraces the need for skills, expertise, an entrepreneurial and citizen-focused culture and evidence-based policy-making. It reasserts the importance of combining long-term awareness and short-term practical actions. It updates to a 21st century context, the insight of the founders of the planning profession that planning is about ‘Folk-Work-Place’. Authors rejected the technocratic model of social change and professionalism which for too long defined the practice of ‘old’ urban planning.

At the 2010 Alberta Professional Planners Institute (APPI) Conference at Lake Louise, planners bravely looked into how to integrate place, people, priorities and planet. They asked “Are we planning to survive? Who is planning our future anyway?” APPI strongly considered the integral lenses of learning /behaviour/ culture/ structure. Planners were intrigued by the dynamics of complex adaptive systems and life conditions. The experience at APPI 2010 opened up conversations between, with and because of the different perspectives in the room (attendees included biologist, foresters, architects, economon developers, social workers and educators as well as planners.) It became clear that the issues identified by the leaders of the 2006 global planning document at the WPC, were reflected at the APPI Conference. The very differences in the room in 2010 (which included how the conference was designed as well as the individuals present), opened conversations, spaces and harvests that enabled a new inquiry about APPI’s emerging story. How will APPI develop the capacity to dynamically navigate in a future of change where everything is great, everything is awful and everything is perfect all at once?

Watch APPI’s website and Journal for further details.