"All the news that fits"

Update from APA and the Chapter Presidents Council

Sarah Marchant, AICP,  NNECAPA President

With our remote world, APA national has shifted meeting schedules to accommodate virtual meetings across six different time zones (Boston to Honolulu), instead of all participants being present in the same room.  The changes include breaking up full days of meetings into several meetings over the months of October and November, as such this is the first in what is likely to be short series of articles with updates from national – just want you always wanted.

APA is focusing on continuing to implement its EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) work plan as the basis of all its work going forward. They are evolving their business model to adapt professional development and CM credits with a stronger focus on online learning through the APA Learn platform, which has proven a reliable and excellent tool in the wake of the pandemic.  Overall they have had some strong success with the online platform including record attendance at the recent Policy & Advocacy Conference and the largest number of congressional meetings ever. Planners were heard all over Capitol Hill in early October building relationships and talking about the policy issues most important to us!

The big news at this point is the CPC AICP Exam Manual has been updated and will soon be available for sale. The revised manual includes all the latest updates for the Exam and will be for sale through the chapter at a very competitive price. For those who have already completed their AICP, leadership and APA staff are working on EDI professional development materials that will be available to chapters and individuals through APA Learn to ensure we can offer plenty of opportunities for CM credits in the year ahead.

Lastly, APA is signaling all leadership meetings and conferences will be virtual 2021.  The conference is scheduled to be in Boston this spring, and while a final decision has not been made, it is unlikely to be an in person conference. While disappointing, this might again prove to be a great opportunity to get a ton of professional development and CM credits for a reasonable price if it is a virtual event again.

More details to come as information is rolled out this fall. Stay healthy!

Northern New England Does a Virtual Vision Check

NNECAPA 2020 Virtual Conference

Meagan Tuttle, AICP and Nancy Kilbride

This year’s conference theme, Vision Check: Lessons in Hindsight, Planning with Foresight, was announced before the year’s events began to unfold. The Conference Committee was enthusiastic about the opportunity that the turning of a decade presented to take a close look at the work we do in our communities. The call for sessions invited submissions that would challenge us to learn lessons from our past, explore paradigm shifts, uncover emerging issues, and consider who “we” are as planners and a profession.

As a national state of emergency was declared and our individual states enacted lockdowns in response to a global pandemic, our Committee made the difficult call to postpone the fall 2020 in-person conference. The future—in this case a mere 6 months down the road—was uncertain, but it seemed unlikely that large gatherings of hundreds would either be permitted or palatable to our fellow planners by the fall. As we moved anxiously into the early summer, and the interrelated public health, economic, and racial justice crises took on greater urgency, this foresight allowed our Committee to focus its efforts on organizing a virtual Chapter-wide event.

Our very first virtual conference brought 200 people online over the course of the two-day event. The opening keynote discussion among Tiffany Ann Taylor, Giovania Tiarachristie, and Sarah Marchant included an insightful conversation about what diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism really mean, and how it to begin recognizing and championing this work as planners. The Committee and speakers compiled a list of resources for Chapter members to learn from and use in their work.

Sessions that followed offered tools for evaluating plans and policies through the lens of individuals who will be impacted by them; challenged us to reconsider zoning standards that keep us achieving our plans’ goals; provided insights on COVID-19’s impact on the tourism industry in our region; highlighted a regional planning framework for infrastructure resilience; and challenged us to explore our roles as leaders, advocates, and advisors. The virtual conference also included the NNECAPA annual meeting and a presentation of this year’s award recipients—including the inaugural recipients of the Planner Emeritus recognition. About 20 committed virtual-conference-goers even joined for a virtual social hour!

Thanks in large part to lots of prep work by the Conference Committee’s dedicated volunteers—and the fact that 2020 has made us all very familiar with the ins and outs of Zoom meetings—the event went very smoothly. A special thanks to all our sponsors, speakers, and committee members—especially those who provided the IT expertise!

Thanks to all of our members that joined this year’s event and left us post-event feedback. We know that our members love coming together in person, and we hope to be able to do so again in 2021. The Conference Committee will begin planning for next year’s event early in the new year. So mark your calendar for the 2021 NNECAPA Conference, October 13 – 15 at Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain.

A Municipal Dialogue on Racial Equity – My Experience

Tori Pelletier, Greater Portland Council of Governments

Originally Published in the Maine Association of Planners'  "Front Page"

This summer was filled with a lot of firsts: My first time experiencing “unprecedented times”, my first time owning my own pair of roller skates, and my first time publicly sharing my experiences of racism as a black woman in Maine.

It happened during a racial equity webinar I organized at the Greater Portland Council of Governments, where I work.

I had never planned to speak in the first place. The woman who was originally supposed to share her personal story, decided to respectfully back out because she did not want to share her trauma associated with racism. So, I decided I would do it instead. And I was terrified.

In the office, I had always chatted with my coworkers about neutral topics, like the weather, movies, or new restaurants in town. Standard office small talk. Nobody had ever asked about my experience as a black woman in a primarily white state, nor did I expect that they should.  

I was concerned about how they would perceive me once my big speech was over. Would they pity me? Would they care? Would the entire thing have zero impact on how they view racism in Maine? Would our casual greetings over Zoom be awkward once they knew my truth?

The nerves really began to set in as I started to write (and re-write) my speech. I’d get halfway through and scrap it. I wanted to be honest but not overly descriptive. I didn’t want to dive too deep into the disgusting comments I’ve heard, but I also didn’t want to gloss over them. I also didn’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of my very real experiences.

To be honest, I worried that reliving some of these experiences would put my mental health at stake.

I practiced countless times, but on the day of the webinar I was so worried that I’d blank out on Zoom, so I positioned my computer desktop so that I could see the speech on one side, and the Zoom webinar screen on the other. I spoke slowly and deliberately while praying my voice wouldn’t shake. I tried my best not to look at the “attendee” screen as the number of attendees climbed higher and higher, topping out at around 150 people. Right after my presentation was over, the emails started coming in from coworkers and municipal officials. They were all positive. They heard what I had to say and valued it. I was absolutely exhausted, and relieved.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would have shared my experiences with racism on a public platform, the answer would have been “absolutely not.” For me personally, it felt like the longest 10 minutes of my life.

My goal was to briefly share my reality. I achieved that. But I also achieved something I didn’t expect, which is the confidence to speak more regularly about my lived experiences, no matter how difficult it may be. These conversations are necessary in order for many people to understand that racism does exist, even in states with very few minorities. Though it can be uncomfortable, understanding these realities is the first step towards change, and I am grateful I was able to help be part of that first step here in Maine. 

There was a great deal of momentum after our webinar, specifically from  member communities. GPCOG hosted a second webinar in August focused on racial disparities and COVID-19.  Following the webinars, GPCOG has had several meetings with member communities, some of whom are looking to partner with us on continued anti-racism work, both internally and externally. 

We’re also viewing all of our GPCOG programs with a racial equity lens, and have amended our job descriptions to ensure we’re being as equitable and inclusive as possible. Furthermore, we’ve received a lot of emails from the public, ready to get involved within their own communities and do their part to ensure they’re being allies to the BIPOC community in whatever way they can. We have a lot planned for the future--visit the GPCOG webpage on Racial Equity for the latest information.

The New Ruralism Initiative

Lynne Seeley, Community Planning Consultant, Jennifer Whittaker, U Penn doctoral student, and the New Ruralism Team *

Remember the New Ruralism Initiative, a project of the American Planning Association’s Northern New England Chapter.  The project, which started in 2015 by featuring efforts in Northern New England, expanded to feature grassroots initiatives from Alaska to New York to Alabama which are reinventing local markets and developing grassroots driven programs to meet the needs of their rural residents. And now the New Ruralism Report is out!              

The New Ruralism Initiative now has a downloadable report to share. This report celebrates the rural renaissance in the making with twenty case studies of successful local initiatives in a wide variety of areas such as local foods, housing, energy, new approaches to cooperatives, community services and more. The report shares the lessons local leaders shared with us to help other small-town initiatives get off the ground and succeed. We hope the stories and lessons provide inspiration and guidance for local leaders and volunteers seeking to apply creative solutions to improve everyday life for rural residents.

What is New Ruralism?

Technology advances, economic shifts, and demographic changes are transforming rural America. Rural communities on the urban fringe are growing rapidly, faced with challenges in how to manage development. More remote rural regions are losing population, challenged by declining industry and a shrinking tax base. Some rural communities are struggling to handle a large seasonal influx of tourists, others are pleading for tourists to visit. While some places are building off an agricultural renaissance, others are attracting new residents interested in remote-working, and many are doing both. Whether communities are growing or shrinking, rural communities are dynamic, inventive, vibrant, and thriving. Capturing this energy is what New Ruralism is all about.

New Ruralism articulates that rural communities, to prosper, need a synchronized sustainability focus in three areas: economic, environmental, and social. To thrive, rural planning, policy, and grassroots efforts must embrace new methods of economic sustainability, like cooperatives and the creative economy. They must uphold environmental sustainability, both protecting the land while stewarding working landscapes. And, they must invest in social sustainability, fostering community, strengthening their safety net, and nurturing active democracy. The weaving of these ideas together contributes to strong rural communities.

Rural places nationwide embrace these ideals, welcoming the changes of the twenty-first century with renewed vigor. From transforming vacant historic churches as community centers to developing fishing cooperatives to rebirthing an heirloom grains industry, rural communities aren’t holding back from nurturing the future they want to see. We believe these courageous efforts shouldn’t happen in isolation. New Ruralism seeks to learn from rural communities, understand their barriers and opportunities, share their success stories, and connect thinkers and doers with each other.

The New Ruralism Initiative is pleased to share these stories of rural leadership, place-making, entrepreneurship, energy-generation, art-creation, and volunteerism that sustain the heart and soul of rural places.

The attractive report was made possible with the help of U Penn doctoral student Jennifer Whittaker and an APA Divisions Council grant provided by the Small Town and Rural Planning Division (STaR). All twenty case studies are included at the end of the report and in the NNECAPA  on-line library.


*The New Ruralism team:

Tara Bamford, Community Planning Consultant

Jo Anne Carr, Town of Jaffrey NH & Fitchburg State University

Peg Elmer Hough, Community Resilience Organizations

Mark Lapping, University of Southern Maine

Chad Nabity, Regional Planning Director, Grand Island, NE

Lynne Seeley, Community Planning Consultant

Jennifer Whittaker, University of Pennsylvania

Maine Grains

New Hampshire Planning Survey Results Now Available

The New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) Planning Division is excited to announce the release of the 2019 - 2020 results of the New Hampshire Municipal Land Use Regulation Annual Survey. The 2019 survey was completed by all, but five of the state’s 234 municipalities as well as nine village districts with zoning authority and Coos County, which has zoning authority over 23 unincorporated places in the North Country. In addition, 130 communities submitted zoning amendment updates after their 2020 Annual Town Meetings.

Please see the attached memo which summarizes the various forms that the survey results are available in. The survey results are also available at https://www.nh.gov/osi/planning/services/mrpa/land-use-survey.htm


OSI welcomes the use of the survey data for further analysis, but we ask that all data be attributed to OSI's Municipal Land Use Regulation Survey and would appreciate notification if your analysis produces noteworthy results.

Telecommuting Survey Results Released

The Center for Research on Vermont recently surveyed 662 Vermonters on their attitudes toward telecommuting and working from home. The survey attempted to capture Vermonter’s im-pressions of telecommuting in the midst of the pandemic – the crisis presenting an enormous con-trolled experiment in Vermonters’ experiences and perception of working from home. At the time of the survey, Google mobility reported a 42 percent drop in workplace travel and a 58 percent decline in retail shopping. Survey respondents overwhelming support telework, and strongly support being able to continue to work from home in the future.

Clearly, this population may have been more inclined to telework and their experience at this moment has only further emphasized their interest in doing so. More than half (55%) said they expect to work more from home after things return to something more like normal. And large pluralities said their workplace (70%) and internet service (86%) was good to excellent – enabling them to do so.

The biggest challenge identified by most respondents was the lack of workplace policies and support to allow them to telecom-mute more in the future. More than two-thirds said there was more their employers could do to enable them to work from home more often. The clearest recommendation that emerges is that there should be support and resources for small and large employers developing telework policies and programs. The full report can be read at: https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/Center-for-Research-on-Vermont/Final_report_June_6.pdf

- Bennington County Regional Commission "News and Notes" (September 2020 edition)

NNECAPA – Virtual Webinar Series

NNECAPA will be hosting a series of webinars during the months of December, January, and February/March. Each session will be 60 minutes with an additional 30 minutes of Q & A.  CM credits will be made available.

Save the Dates:

-          Friday December 11, 2020, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

South Burlington Project Find out why this project was awarded the NNECAPA Project of the Year award.

-          Friday January 22, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Northern New England Legislative Update: A state-by-state review of planning laws passed in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. A look back at 2020 legislation, and a preview of the 2021 session.

Jared Woolston, AICP, Maine; Benjamin Frost, Esq., AICP, New Hampshire; and Alex Weinhagen, Vermont

 -          February/March 2021 – TBA

Registration will be open during this month. Any questions or suggestions contact Nancy Kilbride, Chapter Administrator: admin@nnecapa.org.

NNECAPA – New Membership Initiative

NNECAPA is rolling out a new member campaign thanks to APA’s Chapter Presidents Council (CPC) for awarding a grant for this initiative. The campaign will target “Young Professionals” and “Rural Areas.” Our goal is to broaden our scope of members and to create a louder voice on how the planning profession moves forward. If you know of a business or individual who would benefit from becoming a member please reach out directly to them or contact our Chapter Administrator, Nancy Kilbride: admin@nnecapa.org.

AICP Scholarships

Every year the AICP offers a limited number of reduced fee scholarships for individuals to take the AICP Examination.  Generally, NNECAPA has been allocated one scholarship.  If you are interested in applying for an upcoming exam session, please contact the Chapter's PDO, Carl Eppich, AICP at pdo@nnecapa.org

The next scholarship won't likely be available until 2021, but it doesn't hurt to express interest early!

The selection of the scholarship recipient rests solely with the Chapter Professional Development Officer and shall be final.

"Everyone opens the newsletter to look at this section!"

The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission is hiring! FMI: https://www.trorc.org/about/employment-opportunities/

Karen Cullen, AICP, is retiring at the end of October after a long career assisting communities up and down the eastern seaboard. After receiving her Master of Regional Planning degree from UMass in 1983, she began her career in Florida. She worked in various capacities in New Hampshire from 1985 to 1997, then moved to Hilton Head Island from 1998 to 2005. Returning to her home state of Massachusetts, she worked in several jobs from 2005 to 2016, and after life changing personal turmoil she moved to Maine where she has worked ever since. Karen is looking forward to spending her time in her woodworking shop where she creates unique and useful items, kayaking on the lake in front of her house, and hiking throughout Maine. She is especially looking forward to no more phone calls from people inquiring about land use! Karen is grateful for having had the opportunity to help every community she has worked with over the past 36 years, and leaves the profession with intense satisfaction of a job well done.

Jarod Farn-Guillette has been named the director of the Hancock County Planning Commission in Ellsworth, ME. Jarod most recently worked for the Washington County Council of Governments.

Andrew Graminski just celebrated one year with the Town of Brattleboro (VT)'s Planning Department. 

Tom Martin, former executive director of Hancock County Planning Commission, Ellsworth (ME) writes: Over two years after my health condition forced me into early retirement, I still miss you all, even those with whom I had professional disagreements .  Fighting Parkinson's Disease is a full-time job, but requires no night meetings or billing reports to funding agencies.

Sad to relay news of the passing of Gerald Mylroie, AICP, a long time planning figure in Northern New England. Gerry was involved with various planning committees and federal task forces on urban problems and policy development.  He was especially proud of his support of the Nature Conservancy and was a longtime member of the Sierra Club. In retirement, Gerry remained devoted to his family, landscape design, long walks at local beaches, scenic drives, fly fishing, touring ice cream stands, and Congdon’s Donut Shop in Wells.  He was a Free Mason and member of the Triangle Lodge in Portland. Obituary is here.

Thanks to NNECAPA's Sustaining Partner and all our sponors!

Photo: Lee Krohn