Tuesday, July 05, 2011 11:53 AM
Sustainability APWA Style
I spent the better part of last week at the American Public Works Association’s (APWA’s) Sustainability in Public Works Conference in Portland, OR, approaching it with some trepidation that it, as so many events in the past, would be dominated by the high-blown rhetoric of visionaries rather than frontline commentaries of those charged with its achievement.
Imagine then my enthusiastic astonishment when from the introductory remarks onward, I found myself swept forward in what in all candor was the best and most thoughtful collection of presentations on the subject to which I have been treated. In fact, my only beef is that with concurrent sessions, I was able to attend only a half of those on the agenda.
What was there that made such an impression on me, you ask? Mainly it was the presentations and the presenters themselves who were routinely superior. And why not? These were the people—engineers for the most part—for whom sustainability is not a goal, but a watchword for practices and activities for which they have been responsible throughout their careers. What is different today is not their approach to their jobs, but the political climate that at last acknowledges the importance of their going beyond expediency in order to provide the public with the greatest value for its resources.
Indeed, I came away from the conference in the belief that with the newfound backing of political will, sustainability is in the process of becoming a matter of action rather than oration, and that at long last, those in our communities with on-the-ground knowledge and experience will be allowed to assume their rightful positions of leadership.
Detailed information for the conference can be found at http://sites.apwa.net/sustainability/2011/fullSchedule.asp