INTERNATIONAL IDEA EXCHANGE

APWA International Affairs Committee Annual Report

Jimmy B. Foster, P.E.
Director of Public Works
City of Plano, Texas
Chair, APWA International Affairs Committee

First, let me thank President Dwayne Kalynchuk, and Past Presidents Richard Ridings and Marty Manning, for allowing me to serve on the APWA International Affairs Committee (IAC) for the past three years. The events from 2001 through today have created an interest in international affairs that are unparalleled in the history of APWA. There are APWA members serving around the world, in some very difficult places, such as Iraq. A friend of mine serving there made the following statement: "I am so lucky to be in Iraq at this moment. This (service in Iraq) is my mission, something I have to do. It's part of my passion." In my own years of service overseas, I observed that people worldwide want to do three things: (1) improve their quality of life, (2) create the best of conditions for their children, and (3) live a life that has meaning. We, the members of the APWA International Affairs Committee, believe we have given the APWA membership an opportunity to pursue those three goals.

  Building a combined sewer in Iraq

A Chinese proverb states, "If you are planning for a year, sow rice. If you are planning for a decade, plant trees. If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people." In a sense, that is the mission of APWA. We have attempted to broaden the perspectives of the APWA membership. We have promoted cultural awareness as a way to make public works employees more effective and productive. We have strengthened our global connections in order that we can be more effective in our leadership roles and in the management of multicultural teams. And we have encouraged cross-cultural service in order that we may build effective interpersonal relationships with our partners in Australia, Mexico, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

The members of the IAC and the three task forces—the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA, Chair: Jennifer Barlas), the Asociacion de Municipios de Mexico (AMMAC, Chair: Robert Kass) and the Slovak Public Works Association (SPWA, Chair: Geoff Greenough)—are to be congratulated for their accomplishments during the past twelve months. The following summary of the past year's accomplishments is a testimony to their dedication and hard work in furthering international cooperation in public works. Of course, it is obvious that the support of the APWA Board of Directors has contributed greatly to the creativity and productivity of the IAC. The members of the IAC for 2003/04 are:

  • Robert Albee, Managing Director, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., Watertown, MA
  • Martin Basta, Operations Manager, City of Great Falls, MT
  • Chris Champion, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA), Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • Julio Fuentes, Senior Traffic Engineer, City of San Diego, CA
  • Neil Grigg, Civil Engineering Dept. Head, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
  • Noel Thompson, Executive Administrator, City of Louisville, KY
  • Zeferino Zanchez, Principal, Vertice Asesores, Tijuana, Mexico
  • Jimmy B. Foster (Chair), Director of Public Works, City of Plano, TX

The administrative year began with the 2003 APWA Congress in San Diego, CA. The 40 attendees from Mexico received translation services at the General Sessions and at specified educational sessions. This first-ever, simultaneous translation of Congress sessions was made possible by the AMMAC Task Force and through the generosity of the APWA Board of Directors. By funding this program the APWA Board acknowledged the value and importance of our relationship with Mexico. Julio Fuentes, a member of the IAC, is to be commended for his efforts in making this happen.

President Dwayne Kalynchuk in the old town of Bratislava, Slovakia

Also attending the 2003 Congress were representatives from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The week following the 2003 Congress, they were hosted by Brad Kutzner, Assistant City Engineer, Poway, CA, and toured public works facilities in the San Diego area. Several months later, APWA signed a collaborative agreement with the Czech Republic Public Works Association. This agreement, achieved largely through the efforts of Geoff Greenough, includes the exchange of information in education, training, technology, management practices, new public works innovations, and the providing of opportunities for members to work and study in each other's countries. APWA has also approved the recommendation of the International Affairs Committee that the New Zealand Public Works Association be added to the existing partnership with the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA).

The Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program was rejuvenated this year. This program provides an opportunity for APWA members to broaden their knowledge and to exchange experiences and information on trends and advances in public works through contacts with international partners; in addition, it will promote friendship and understanding among public works' staffs on a global basis. Three APWA members were selected for the Fellowship, one to Mexico (Jos‚ Gamboa, Superintendent of Solid Waste, Santa Cruz, CA), and two to Slovakia and the Czech Republic (George Crombie, Director of Public Works, Plymouth, MA, and Brad Kutzner, Assistant City Engineer, Poway, CA). These three individuals will also be making presentations at future APWA Congresses.

APWA's Public Works Management Practices Manual was translated into Spanish, and APWA will be working with our Mexican counterparts, Asociacion de Municipios de Mexico (AMMAC), to market the manual in Mexico and Latin America.

In May 2004 a delegation of APWA members, including Larry Lux, Bernardo Garcia, Irma Myers, and Jos‚ Gamboa, attended the AMMAC Congress in Huatulco, Mexico. Attended by approximately 250 mayors, municipal executive staff, and public works officials, this conference included presentations by the U.S. delegation and a workshop on city management.

APWA's agreement with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to work collaboratively on international issues is gaining momentum. At least two APWA members (one under the ICMA agreement) are working in Iraq to help with the rebuilding of the infrastructure in that country.

Other accomplishments over the past year included the writing of 21 articles and sidebars in the APWA Reporter. Topics ranged from "China's Three Gorges Dam" to "Disaster Management Strategy Issues in Queensland, Australia" to "The Congress Experience of Representatives from Slovakia and the Czech Republic." Each APWA Reporter also included facts concerning international relations and cross-cultural communication.

  The Three Gorges Dam project in China

Looking toward the future, the IAC and the task forces have again developed an excellent lineup of sessions for the Atlanta Congress. Topics include: 1) "Damming the Yangtze River: The Three Gorges Project," 2) "Recycling in the Czech and Slovak Republics" and 3) "Emergency Management in Queensland, Australia." The IAC will, for the third year, host an International Guest Reception at the 2004 APWA Congress in Atlanta.

These are just a few of the accomplishments of the IAC and the task forces. I would like to recognize the members collectively for their hard work and dedication. And I would also like to commend our APWA staff liaison, Kaye Sullivan, and her staff for the outstanding support they have provided the International Affairs Committee. To be honest, without her support and attention to detail, the work of the IAC would be greatly diminished. Thank you, Kaye.

Jimmy B. Foster can be reached at (972) 769-4128 or at jimmyf@plano.gov.

Great Falls endears itself to Naryn by talking some trash

Paula Wilmot
Staff Writer, Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls, Montana

A program financed by the United States Agency for International Development has given the City of Great Falls hero status in a city on the other side of the globe.

Through the program, city staff members have helped the government in Naryn, Kyrgystan, with advice and money to improve the quality of water, wastewater and garbage systems for its 41,000 citizens.

Over the last five years, the City of Great Falls has helped Naryn fight a huge trash problem that posed public health and environmental problems in the little country that once was a Soviet Republic. Trash was piled throughout the city, according to Marty Basta, City Maintenance Operations Manager (and member of APWA's International Affairs Committee—Ed.). "Dead animals and infectious wastes were common in trash piles in residential neighborhoods," Basta said.

Basta, Public Works Director Jim Rearden, and other city workers have helped Naryn acquire equipment to pick up and haul trash to the landfill and understand the importance of covering up garbage after it is dumped.

Great Falls partnered with Naryn through the International City/County Management Association's Resource Cities program. All expenses of city representatives who travel to Naryn are paid by the program, although the two cities have exchanged gifts.

Four years ago, when the City of Great Falls bought a new garbage truck, they received what was considered a below low-ball trade-in offer on its old truck, Basta said. "Instead of taking a $5,000 trade-in on a working truck we bought at $100,000, we came up the idea of sending the old truck to Kyrgystan," he recalled. "We had no idea how difficult that would be. Eventually, the notion was abandoned, the city sold the truck for $15,000 and offered the cash to the city of Naryn, if that city could match it.

"Naryn is a poor city, and although it wasn't easy, the city came up with the matching money," Basta said. The city also helped Naryn get a $5,000 private donation from U.S. Filter to buy a dump truck.

In return, the City of Naryn sent Great Falls a thank-you gift: a yurt, a circular tent-like dwelling which has been displayed at the Public Library for educational purposes.

Other than the satisfaction of helping people who need it, what's in this for the City of Great Falls?

"It has been a tremendous learning experience," Basta said. "It's given me an international perspective."

Moreover, Basta added, such assistance is important because Great Falls and Naryn exist in a global community. "Sure, Naryn is a long ways away, but pollution is a global issue, and we're helping to curb environmental hazards," he said.

From a political standpoint, the program is worthwhile too, Rearden noted. "We're helping a country set up a successful democratic process," he said. "And that might help the country avoid a tendency to fall back into its former dictatorship." Naryn's current mayor is the first mayor elected by the people, Rearden added.

"It's amazing how many things we have helped the people with over there," said Martha Cappis, Operations Supervisor.

Originally published in the Great Falls Tribune, June 14, 2004. Reprinted with permission. Paula Wilmot can be reached at (406) 791-6594 or at pwilmot@greatfal.gannett.com.

Call for applicants for 2005 Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program

The APWA International Affairs Committee is pleased to announce the call for applicants for the 2005 Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program. This fund was originally established by the APWA International Public Works Federation (IPWF) at the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute in May of 1987. In 2004, three APWA members were funded for study tours in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Mexico.

It is the intent of the International Affairs Committee (IAC) to award up to two fellowships per year for APWA members to travel to countries with which APWA has formal international partnerships with other public works associations.

The criterion for the program is as follows:

APWA members will present public works/infrastructure-related papers at APWA's international partnership countries' public works-related conferences; coupled with typically a one-week or more extended study tour of public works facilities in that country; and a paper regarding that tour presented at the next available APWA Congress and other professional organizations; and preparation of an article in the APWA Reporter.

APWA anticipates that the registration for the host conference will be complimentary and the host country will provide housing for the grant recipient either through a hotel or home hosting. The fellowship will cover the cost of travel to and from the specified country.

APWA international partner conferences are generally held as follows:

  • Slovakia Public Works Association (SPWA) and Czech Republic Public Works Association (CZPWA) - March/April of every year (Fellowship available in 2006)
  • Asociacion de Municipios de Mexico, A.C. (AMMAC) - May of every year (Fellowship available in 2005)
  • Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) - August of every odd year (Fellowship available in 2005)

At this time, it is the intention that fellowships be made available for attendance at the IPWEA and SPWA/CZPWA conferences every second year and the AMMAC conference annually. The Jennings Randolph Fellowship will be awarded on the basis of funding available each year through interest earned in the fund without taking the fund below $50,000. Some years may be more lucrative than others and the committee hopes to be able to award more than one fellowship per year.

A desirable option to this program is to arrange for a member exchange with the specified partner country to exchange members between cities. In doing so, the exchanging members would each be hosted in a residence (with meals included) in their respective cities for up to two weeks, with the first week at the host's conference and the second week studying an aspect of public works in that country.

For additional information and an application form, please access APWA's website at www.apwa.net and locate an e-brochure about the program on the "About APWA" page under "International Activities." Or you may contact Kaye Sullivan, APWA Deputy Executive Director, at (800) 848-APWA, ext. 3523 or ksullivan@apwa.net. To be eligible for 2005 fellowships, applications must be received at APWA headquarters by 5:00 p.m. Central on October 15, 2004. The successful applicant(s) will be notified by January 15, 2005.

Cultural Proverbs

"The beginning is the half of every action." - Greek Proverb

"By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn." - Latin Proverb

"Don't be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don't be too bitter lest you be spewed out." - Jewish Proverb

"If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time." - Chinese Proverb