Greetings from the Inland Empire Section! 

 By Mary May

I am Mary May, a long-time planner and board member of the Inland Empire Section (IES).  I am honored to begin a new two-year adventure as the IES board president!

I have always thought the title “Inland Empire” so regal sounding. For me, it conjures up images of faraway lands, with hidden riches, storied characters, and exotic food. If you were lucky enough to come to Spokane for the state conference in November, maybe we lived up to that for you: hidden riches perhaps included Manito Park; storied characters could have included the garbage eating goat; and exotic foods … well, would Dick’s Burgers count? I guess what is interesting and meaningful to one person may or may not be interesting and meaningful to another. As planners, we are trained to keep an eye out for creating and sustaining interesting places. I feel honored to hail from the Inland Empire Section and count it as one of those interesting places.

To get my tenure as board president off and running, it was great timing that our board held an annual retreat in mid-November. We started with hearing from our State Chapter President, Rick Sepler. In addition to an update on the state conference debrief, we heard about opportunities for contributing at the state level. We have active members on the legislative committee and hope to add some east-side folks to the work being done in growing membership statewide and in pulling together a spring workshop on the topic of sheltering the homeless.

As a board, we then jumped into developing a work plan for the coming year. We brainstormed activities for monthly get-togethers in three overlapping categories:

Professional Development: Each year we look forward to several recurring events including the annual Priest Lake conference and a law and ethics session. In addition, we are looking at some possible new events: a speaker’s series; advanced technical sessions for practicing planners; and a meet-the-professors event to share current ideas and topics of study and research. Potential topics for professional development include environmental justice, individual mobility/autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and public engagement.

Social Networking: Some traditional events will be held, including quarterly Hot Topics Happy Hours and the mentor program mixer. Last year saw the first of what we hope to be a long-running annual poker tournament that acts as a social networking event and fundraiser for student scholarships. A few other ideas got tossed in the mix, including a Beer Mile and Planning Unleashed. We will keep you posted on how those develop. Perhaps you can plan your next trip to the east side, so you can join us!

Giving Back: Giving back to our community is not only a part of the AICP Code of Ethics, but it is also often a big reason why people choose planning as a career. Our board discussed several opportunities to partner with other organizations to provide assistance. We look forward to supporting affiliated agencies and groups such as Cleaning from the Corridor, the Spokane River Keeper, Friends of the Bluff, Blessings Under the Bridge and 2nd Harvest. We also anticipate supporting grant applications or contracts to help communities in need of planning assistance; possibly fundraising for a specific cause; and participating in educational presentations at the elementary, middle and/or high school levels.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing president Dave Anderson. Your leadership for the past four years has left huge shoes for me to fill. Thank you IES board for the great work already started through this retreat - it shows you’re ready to jump in those shoes and help!

Return to the November/December issue of The Washington Planner