As the director of planning and communications at Parametrix Inc. in Portland, Ore., Dave Siegel works with communities to develop visions for the future. His passion for his work also extends outside the office as the current president of the American Planning Association (APA).
For nearly two decades, Siegel has volunteered with the APA, a 40,000-member non-profit public interest and research organization that encourages planning to meet the needs of people and society more effectively.
“Planning is an art and a science,” Siegel said. “It involves the practice of effecting positive change to the natural, the built and the social environment.”
His own love for community and planning are far-reaching.
“I prefer to practice community-based, outcomes-driven planning by holding workshops with various stakeholders,” Siegel said. “I ask them to tell me to envision their desired outcomes, to address their wants, fears and desires, and to develop from that their guiding principals.”
Through APA Siegel regularly takes his message around the country, giving lectures to educate communities on the importance of planning and to encourage them to consider each faction involved in changing the purpose of the land to improve life for the entire community.
“Currently we have no culture of planning in many areas of the country,” Siegel said. “Our country has grown up historically as economic centers, and attention was put on growth. To be successful, all layers must be considered – the natural, the built and the human.”
In his home state of Oregon, all cities and counties must now have comprehensive plans for development that consider the future needs of the population, including all residential, commercial and industrial needs as well as parks, transportation, locations of wetlands and those areas subject to natural disasters.
Such results from APA’s efforts as well as citizen activists and volunteers who take on the mission of comprehensive change for their communities continue to reinforce Siegel’s enthusiasm.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” he said. “It takes champions to marshal interests and resources, and every plan needs a champion.”