With the American Planning Association’s (APA) National Conference being held in the great city of Chicago this spring, I was hoping to attend the weekend portion of the event. Many of the programs, lectures and events sound very interesting. Unfortunately, the literature and webpage identify no other options than to pay for the entire conference – a.k.a. $695 ahead of time or $795 on site.
Upon further inquiry I was rather dismayed to learn that the conference organizers prefer to encourage attendance for the entire event. That may be all well and good, but most of us have hectic schedules, full-time jobs, and we and/or our employers do not have $700 to toss around for registration fees. Add in travel costs and lodging and it tallies up much more than $700 – more like $1,500.
Has our profession become so enamored with itself that it feels the need to create two classes of urban planners – the haves who can afford four days of conference expenses and the have-nots who cannot? I certainly hope not.
To rectify this imbalance, I believe the APA needs to initiate as soon as possible some prorated options for attending the National Conference including single-day rates and two-day rates. Only then, can we truly say the conference is designed to serve and benefit all planners, not just those fortunate enough to have access to deep pockets and/or oodles of spare time.