Make it your responsibility
Martin J. Manning, P.E.
"I have never attended an annual Public Works Congress without learning something new which has helped me considerably in my job and which has benefited my community." I overheard this comment recently at a chapter meeting. While there is nothing especially striking about the statement, it does reflect the sentiments of many of our members—that APWA is performing a vital function by making possible the sharing of ideas among public works professionals.
Those of us who have been a part of APWA for a number of years feel that we have profited greatly from our membership. From the APWA Reporter and numerous publications covering virtually every area of public works, to the InfoNOW Communities and Legislative Advocacy Task Force, to our national conferences, chapter meetings and the Click, Listen and Learn virtual workshops, APWA helps to keep you informed and make your job an easier one. The effectiveness of the association depends upon increasing the membership not only to secure the fullest possible representation and participation, but also to obtain financial support for the organization's expanding program of activities.
Last October saw the membership pass the 27,000 mark for the first time in the history of the association. As the Board of Directors set a goal of increasing membership by 6% by the end of our fiscal year (June 30), this is certainly encouraging news and a step in the right direction. I know all of you take a great deal of pride in the fine growth the association has enjoyed and you can all give yourselves a pat on the back for the wonderful job you have done. However, June 30 is rapidly approaching and we still have a ways to go to hit that 6% mark.
Our membership recruitment objective can be achieved only if we all do our part in enlisting the support of non-member public works professionals with whom we come in contact. Decide now to make it your responsibility to sign up at least one new member this month. In doing so you are making it possible for someone else to benefit from the services of APWA, and at the same time you are playing an important role in strengthening the association.
With but little imagination we can visualize a membership two or more times as great as exists today, with the expanded chapter structure and increased services that come with that additional growth. Pause for a moment and consider the potential of that additional membership in the development of improved techniques in the public works field and in APWA's influence for a better government. The picture is positively overwhelming! With the help of each of you, real progress will be made in our growth.
So you're coming to Congress
Public works professionals from all parts of the United States and Canada, as well as from many other countries throughout the world, will converge on San Diego August 24-27 to see how others are handling public works problems and to see the latest types of equipment that are available to serve the public works field. I sincerely hope that you will be among those present.
If you are fortunate enough to attend Congress, may I earnestly suggest that you come prepared to get the most out of this truly outstanding conference. Congress offers fun and good times for all as it gives us a chance to get away from our daily chores. However, its real purpose is to give us an opportunity to get some help on those problems that we leave behind—that is, until we get back to where we came from.
Therefore, it behooves us to jot down, well in advance of the conference, the questions we want answered and the problems we want aired. You may find out what you want to know at one of the educational sessions or perhaps in an informal discussion between sessions. Regardless of how or where you get them, answers coming from the combined experience of the delegates should be of considerable help to you when you get back on the job.
Conscientious students do not enter a class without having reviewed the assignment, and without having in mind questions on points they do not fully understand and want clarified. These students will go farther afield than the basic subject matter in order to gain associated or related information which will help them in their primary subject. The educational program at Congress is designed with this in mind. The subjects are varied; they cover many of the salient problems facing public works professionals today, as well as what we can expect in the future. The public works professional who approaches Congress with a definite objective in mind can harvest a wealth of ideas for the future and solutions for current problems.
Along with jotting down questions you may have, another important step is to consult your colleagues and go over the Congress program with them. Ask each of them to submit questions or problems that can be explored at the educational sessions or on the exhibit floor with the manufacturers' representatives.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time." A planned, objective approach to Congress can be a profitable exercise of time and of immense value to the community. Nor should planning stop at this point. Upon return from Congress a full report should be prepared and distributed to all key personnel. A meeting should be held so that the staff can get the answers to their questions while they are fresh in mind. Notes should be made of which presentations delivered at Congress are pertinent to local operations and problems.
Thousands of attendees over the years have recognized the opportunities Congress affords and have left the conference refreshed and inspired to use their newfound knowledge for the benefit of their respective communities. If you haven't already, it's time to make your plans to be there.