How I complied with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Required Certification Maintenance (CM) for FREE and Reinstated my AICP

On June 24, 2020, I received an email informing me that my AICP membership has lapsed. I can no longer use the letters “AICP” after my name and include it as one of my credentials. I told myself that I might as well lose it since I am not using it anyway because I am based outside the United States. However, out of the blue, in the first week of October 2020, I suddenly remembered the sleepless nights I endured to acquire the AICP credentials. I decided to go through the process of reinstating my AICP.

My first problem is my Certification Maintenance (CM) credits. One credit is equal to one hour. I only acquired 1.5 credits/hours. The requirement is 32 credits/hours to comply and apply for reinstatement. This means I need to finish 31.5 hours to reinstate my CM credits. My second problem is the cost of the registration of the CM. I do not have enough resources to pay for the registration of CM webinar lectures. I learned how to look for the FREE ON DEMAND Courses.

AICP encourages its members to explore CM distance learning specially during this time of Pandemic. There are several ways to earn CM. Members can earn CM by attending an online (live online or recorded on-demand education); physically attending the annual National Planning Conference; speaking / instructing at an activity that is registered for CM credit by the educational provide; self-reporting attendance, pro bono planning service or speaking / instructing at an activity that is not registered for CM credit by the provider but meets CM criteria and is approved by American Planning Association (APA) staff; authoring an article; authoring a published journal article; and authoring a book.

As for me, my option is to attend FREE online recorded on-demand CM courses. I went to the CM Search Page, clicked the filter and clicked the On Demand Free Online and APA courses (including topics which are more than two years old). A list of topics along with their corresponding CM credits filled my monitor. I began to choose the topics that appealed to me. I noticed a pattern and came up with an observation and simple system of choosing topics:

1. There are APA Chapters that provide On Demand Free Online Courses. Try to look for those Chapters.
2. There are Free CM courses from past Conferences.
3. There are topics that are available for download in Youtube. I can easily access the downloaded lectures anytime (convenience).

I made a daily schedule and planned to finish the remaining 31.5 CM/hours. I targeted 3CM / hours per day. CM hour ranges from 30 minutes (.5 credits) to 8 hours. An average CM activity I think is around 1 hour. I started downloading videos on October 8 and planned to finish all by October 18 (11 days). I finished watching and evaluating the courses on October 21.

I am required to evaluate and provide feedback from each course. It is easy to just click on the multiple choice feedback options and skip the comment / suggestion part. It is tempting given that I want to finish it fast. However, this will personally reflect on my professional integrity. If I do this, I can never be proud of the four letters (AICP) I put after my name. I didn’t succumb to this enchanting temptation of choosing the easy way. What I did is to chat down notes during the webinars and summarize them. I also took note of the sub-topics that impressed me most and the policies that may be applicable in my country (personal reflection). I wrote the topic summary and personal reflection in the comment section. I hope that is fine with AICP.

On October 18, 2020, I sent an email to AICP informing them that I finished and closed my 2018 – 2019 Certification Maintenance Reporting Period. I also request for the AICP Reinstatement Invoice. I received an invoice of $50 for the Reinstatement fee along with my 2021 APA dues ($184) and AICP dues ($110).
I now again have my AICP Credentials. Although I paid for the APA and AICP dues, I am happy that I didn’t pay any for the CM Credits.

Here at home (Philippines), I am a member of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP). PIEP is the Accredited Professional Organization (APO) of licensed Environmental Planners (Urban Planners) in the Philippines. Our license is renewable every three (3) years. Environmental Planners renew their licenses at the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC). One of the requirements of renewing the Environmental Planning (EnP) license is completion of a 45 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units during the three year period starting July 1, 2017. However, there are general oppositions to the policy from licensed professionals (not only EnPs) in the country. One of the major issues raised was the cost of the 45 CPD points. APOs and PRC may argue that there are several ways of earning CPDs (Professional Track – Training Offered by Accredited CPD Providers, Face To Face /Online; Academic Track and Self-Directed) but still the easiest and most convenient way to earn CPD is by attending conferences and lectures for a fee. PRC in general declared that the renewal of licenses without full CPD Compliance is accepted until December 2021.

I hope that PRC and APOs (PIEP) will consider providing the CPDs for free to their members as an option similar to the AICP’s CM units provided that members will provide inputs and personal reflections as part of their evaluation.

In the future, I’ll surely remember the hardships I encountered reinstating my AICP which will further strengthen my conviction to maintain my AICP credentials as long as I can.

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/09/29/how-i-passed-the-american-institute-of-certified-planners-aicp-exam-even-if-i-am-not-from-the-united-states-how-to-apply-for-the-aicp-exam/

To learn more on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/09/29/how-i-prepared-and-passed-the-american-institute-of-certified-planners-aicp-exam-even-if-i-am-not-from-the-united-states/

To learn more about the Benefits of Passing the AICP exam – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/09/29/how-i-passed-the-american-institute-of-certified-planners-aicp-even-if-i-am-not-from-the-united-states-benefits-of-passing-the-aicp-exam/

3 Things I Learned from Attending the 2020 BLOXHUB Summer School on Urban Resilience at the University of Southern Denmark

I am elated to be part of this year’s BLOXHUB Summer School on Urban Resilience 2020. The Summer School is under the International Urban Resilience Academy (IURA) program which serves as a platform for education, research, networking and capacity building activities on Urban Resilience hosted by the University of Southern Denmark. The BLOXHUB Summer School Urban Resilience brings together global practitioners, policy makers and researchers. This is the second the year that the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen hosted the summer school.

https://www.sdu.dk/en/forskning/sducivilengineering/iura/teaching+and+education+activities/bloxhub+summer+school+on+urban+resilience+2020

The summer school initial set-up was to invite participants to go to Copenhagen to attend the program. However, due the COVID 19 Pandemic, the plan changed and the organizers opted to conduct it on-line. The program itself was challenged by the Pandemic and proved its resiliency amidst the disaster. The conduct of the program served as a simple microcosm of what is happening globally. The program showed its resilience by understanding and analyzing the situation, being resourceful with the use of technology, and engaging the commitment of the participants and the organization as a whole.

But first, what is resiliency to you personally? When can you say that you are resilient? When can you say that your community or city is resilient? There are so many definitions of resilience – from being able to hang on through (survive) tough obstacles, being able to adapt to the current trials, up to being able to anticipate, plan, and not be significantly affected by the disaster when it arrives. My favorite is the UN Habitat definition of resilience which is “the ability of any urban system to maintain continuity through all shocks and stresses while positively adapting and transforming towards sustainability”. Wherever we are in the world, there will always be issues and problems that will come our way, how we deal with these challenges define our state of resiliency.

The lecture part of the program was organized in two ways. First is the General Webinar hosted by IURA wherein anybody can register and attend. The second lecture is the Community Sessions exclusive for participants. The General Webinar and the Community Sessions presents a combination of lectures, reports, tools and methods or presentation of best practices. The Community Sessions served as an in-depth discussion of the general webinar.

This year’s batch is very diverse both occupationally and geographically. Though diverse, it seems that issues in different parts of the world are similar specially in climate change and its effects, governance, and this current pandemic.

Bloxhub participants

We were assigned to different groups and were given tasks and weekly outputs / deliverables.

My 3 Major Takeaways from attending the 2020 BLOXHUB Summer School

1st Takeaway – Importance of Systems Thinking / Approach

A system for me is a group of interrelated parts wherein if something happens to one part it will affect directly or indirectly all the other parts. A system is a defined group of different parts or components. To appreciate a system, imagine an aching tooth, the aching tooth no matter how small will affect the function of your whole body or the performance of your daily activities. It is up to the researcher / student to provide the context or define the boundaries of your system. It may range from a simple to a complicated system. In my example, we can define the system as limited as the oral cavity or as extensive as its relationship to actual work performance or family relationships.

Our group looked at the Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) system in informal settlements in Asia during the Pandemic. We analyzed it geographically looking at different contexts, culture, and norms. We also looked at its temporal situation (before and during COVID 19 and what is ideal post-Covid 19). The problem of WASH is already significant in informal settlements before COVID 19. COVID 19 amplified the problem and further put families in greater danger. We also learned that problems go beyond the WASH system. This include poverty, livelihood and land ownership, among others. However, we defined our system boundary to only include access to WASH given the limited time in preparing our outputs.

Systems Thinking / Approach allows you to understand the problem deeper and better and gives you a comprehensive set of solutions. The Summer School advocated consistently the use of systems thinking.

2nd Takeaway – Use of Tools (Systems Approach and Collaborative Tools)

In the absence of face-to-face communication, the summer course used its resourcefulness and maximize the available internet tools that helped in delivering an effective program. All the tools or online applications presented in the course are all new to me. The three new online applications I learned are Slack, Miro Board, and Kumu.

Slack is very similar to Whatsapp, Viber, or Facebook. It is an online messaging application where team members communicate and work together. Similar to other applications, you can send different files through Slack. It is also nice that I can use different apps for different groups. I used Slack for the course while using other apps for personal mode of communication and expressions. https://slack.com/intl/en-ph/

One powerful tool for collaboration is the Miro Board. It helps group work together effectively. There is a common board where members can work simultaneously. It is the main collaborative tool used in the course. It is very effective in brainstorming wherein members may put digital sticky notes as inputs. https://miro.com/

I enjoyed making system maps in Kumu. It is a visualization platform used for mapping systems and better understanding relationships. The map can also be shared with group members and a good tool for collaboration. It provides great visual to the map of the system and the relationship of its elements. We also used Kumu in mapping our solutions / intervention using the Theory of Change. The map is also great as a communication tool to audience and stakeholders. https://kumu.io/

3rd Takeaway – Heart of Resiliency – Vulnerable Sectors

The first meeting of the group involved a workshop that requires group member to personally assess their knowledge (Head), skills (Hands), and advocacies (Heart). It is similar to stating your strengths and weaknesses, expertise and motivation. I was surprised that all of the groups chose to help or focus on the needs of vulnerable sectors.

Some of the participants are from international agencies but the focus of their advocacies are cities and communities and not at the country level. Some of the participants are also urban planners but instead of proposing “big plans” (like those of Daniel Burnham), they also focused on what the community really need and how to improve the daily lives of these communities. The advocacies are not that complicated but will create big impacts to the community.

As a City/Urban Planner, I advocate the localization of Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, Vision of the New Urban Agenda, etc. in our City. I realized that these big goals are just goals in paper agreed by higher level organization if not localized at the city or community level. These big goals will only serve as lip service if not alleviate the daily situation or struggles of the vulnerable sectors. All communities must be involved and committed to attain this global goal. Communities should be empowered to promote sustainability and resiliency. Probably, these are the reasons why most groups focused on local settings.

Attending the summer course is a great experience for me personally and professionally. Sometimes when you are at the local level, you may feel that what you are doing doesn’t contribute significantly to the betterment of the world. Now I believe that the fight to a sustainable and resilient world starts at the community / city level. I hope that more participants from Developing Countries will participate in the coming years. A very special thanks to the Organizer.

Is your City / Community Resilient?

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My Team – Javed Hussain (Pakistan), Shailendra K. Mandal (India), Ermin Lucino (Philippines) and Gusti Ayu Ketut Surtiari (Indonesia)