MURP Students Descend on Keystone for the 2018 APA Colorado Conference

The 2018 American Planning Association (APA) Colorado conference was held in the lovely Keystone, Colorado, October 3 – 5, 2018. Amidst the beautiful fall foliage, nearly sixty MURP students – the largest group to ever attend the conference, were treated to sessions, workshops, mobile tours and receptions that addressed the challenges and opportunities facing the planning profession in Colorado. Several MURP faculty members and lecturers, including Ken Schroeppel, Andy Rumbach, Jennifer Steffel Johnson, Don Elliott, and Andy Rutz also attended.

APAS President Mayra Gonzáles described the experience, “The conference presents students the unique opportunity to build upon their studies and learn more about the topics planning professionals are addressing. For many of us, this is the first introduction into the field. By connecting with local planners from around the state, we can begin mapping out our career goals.”

The welcome address featured Erin Jones, an educator and advocate recognized by President Obama’s White House in 2013 as a “Champion of Change.” In her speech, “Leveraging Our Collective Stories to Better Serve Community,” Jones shared her inspiring life story and encouraged all planners to look closer to see the similarities in the diverse communities we serve.

The conference’s keynote speaker, John Tolva, a co-founder of CityFi and a 2012 White House “Champion of Change,” spoke on the city’s role as an information technology platform. His talk “Cities As Platforms: Towards a State-Wide Living Laboratory” showed how cities are leveraging technology to streamline public services through more efficient data-sharing, digital communications, and next-generation infrastructure. In addition to the keynotes, an awards ceremony and reception was held on Thursday evening to kick off Community Planning Month.

At this year’s conference, several CU Denver MURP faculty and lecturers, including full-time faculty member Andy Rumbach, lecturer Andy Rutz and part-time faculty member Don Elliott, led sessions on topics such as the future of retail, Denver’s 5280 Loop, equity through resilience planning, infill development and redevelopment, the Blueprint Denver plan, and major trends in the employment economy. Other sessions at the conference covered the gamut of planning-related topics, and included sessions on historic preservation, tiny homes and alternative housing, planning ethics, transportation management, autonomous vehicles, green infrastructure, planning in rural communities, planning for healthy food access, and many more.

Mobile tour workshops were also held, including a walking tour of Frisco’s Main Street from the Historic Park & Museum to the Frisco Bay Marina, a tour of Keystone and Arapahoe Basin base villages focused on the changing climate and economies of ski areas, a tour of Swan River Valley focused on ecological restoration, and a tour of workforce housing developments in Breckenridge, among others.

With the largest group of MURP students ever in attendance, the CU Denver program was well-represented and helped the conference run smoothly by keeping it well-stocked with student volunteers. Students helped with everything including registration, sessions, mobile tours, and receptions. When not attending sessions or volunteering for the conference, students enjoyed getting to know one another, networking with planning professionals from around the state, and hiking through the gorgeous fall foliage surrounding Keystone. 

Visit here for more information on the 2018 APA Colorado Conference, and to read the full schedule of workshops, events and presentations.