September 2, 2014
Every time I have the privilege of serving as an international pro-bono local government expert for ICMA, it is an incredibly rewarding experience in human spirit and generosity, and growth of awareness of the wonders of different cultures and societies. Working in the northern region of Sri Lanka in May 2014 was an especially rewarding experience based upon the reception and appreciation of the local government and chamber of commerce officials that we worked with on a local economic development (LED) partnership and action plan.
Like many countries where ICMA members are called upon to provide expertise, Sri Lankan municipalities are greatly interested in improvement as a result of experiencing difficult political and economic times. The island nation endured a nearly thirty year internal conflict that hampered economic, cultural, and political progress, with the conflict officially ending in 2009. Since that time the Sinhala and Tamil communities have been working to improve both their own communities and the country as a whole.
When we arrived in the city of Jaffna in the northern region we immediately met a coalition of local government officials and chamber of commerce representatives working to draft much needed by-laws (municipal ordinances) to begin to regulate and encourage business activities. Following that we worked with an enthusiastic group from two local governments (Valikamam West and Karachchi) and their local chambers of commerce to work through roles and responsibilities and a short term action plan for a grass roots LED program that can grow with their capacity and expertise.
Within two short days (except it did not seem as short when the air conditioning decided not to work), we crafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) type agreement that would not get bogged down in local politics or problems with “turf” and also an abbreviated short term strategic planning process and set of near term action steps.
There is nothing more gratifying than to experience even a minor transformation in thinking by a group of new friends committed to local government, and to feel their enthusiasm for continuing improvement. Sri Lanka in 2014 is an experience that will guide my work with new friends and cultures for years to come.
The Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities (FSLGA), an ICMA international affiliate, has been following up with each of the local governments on completing their economic development work plans, using the products from the training as foundation for discussions.
August 12, 2014
After weeks at ICMA, I felt I was ready to explore other parts of the US. Therefore, in the first weekend of August, I visited Alice, one of my friends who studies law at the University of Pennsylvania, located in the historic city of Philadelphia. Alice arrived there in late July and because she was busy preparing for the summer courses, she has not had time to become familiar with the city yet. Therefore, we decided to spend the entire Saturday exploring the historic zone of Philadelphia. We began our trip at Penn's Landing, and then walked along the old-age streets to Liberty Hall and Liberty Bell. We visited many churches of different religions, losing ourselves among the exquisite and grand buildings. We met a nice volunteer at a Quaker's meeting room, who shared a lot of stories with us and suggested that we should try the cheesesteak in the Reading Terminal Market. After the delicious local cuisine lunch, we sat at City Hall square, enjoying the sweet flute music flowing in the air.
As far as I am concerned, wandering the historical zone is just like having a cup of Mocha, savoury and mellow. Actually, I have visited many cities in China. One of my favorite is Yangzhou, an ancient city with thousands of years’ history. I just finished a case study on this city about its sustainable development. From Tang Dynasty, Yangzhou has become an economic center of South China. Many poets wrote beautiful poems and articles about this city, leaving bundles of cultural legacy. I am fond of the classical landscape architectures there. However, to my disappointment, I could not feel that kind of feeling described by the literati. Commercial atmosphere transcend history. Consequently, the experience in Philadelphia is much appealing to me, perceiving the passing history and touching the pulse of time.
The following weekend after Philadelphia, Alice came to DC and it was my turn to be her tour guide. I guided her in a classic travel route, where we visited the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Capitol, and then walked along the National Mall to the Washington Monument, and ended in the Lincoln Memorial. We also visited the National Gallery of Art and American History Museum on the way, and were surprised by the many exhibitions of the world famous masters’ work. On Sunday, we went to Pentagon Memorial and Arlington Cemetery, and showed our salute to the people who made great sacrifices to this nation. Both of us felt exhausted after the two-day “long march.” For the rest of the afternoon, we just spent time sitting in a restaurant in Georgetown and talking about what we have experienced during this short month in the US.
As the first capitol of this country, the charm of Philadelphia is its history and its memory. Although we can also see many historical traces in DC, the modern smell is also very strong. DC keeps a good balance between its past and present, even future. In other words, these cities have retained their natural origin in the development process, so that tourist can enjoy its diversity. Compared to cities in China, I feel that the Chinese sometimes judge a city on the number of modern buildings that are built. However, as time goes on, cities grow similar without their original traditions. As a result, we lose the interests to explore.
Therefore, as two Chinese students in the United States for the first time, we describe the United States as a liberal country because difference is greatly respected here. Besides the city’s development path, people can live freely here with dignity. We can see various kinds of people walking in the street, slim or fat, healthy or handicapped, white, black and yellow. Diversity makes this country attractive and thriving. In China, we talk about “harmony” and respect for those who follow the mainstream. Difference sometimes becomes the obstacle to your way to success. Youth in my generation are used to hear from parents:” Look at other children, why cannot you be just like them? Why do you want to be special?“ We try to fight with our parents’ view, but the truth seems to always fall on their side, where we find that we become more and more conservative and similar. This is our growth pattern. I do not know whether the American generation is given enough independence in their youth—maybe I can find the answer in the following month.
Indeed, I appreciate everyone I meet in this country, friends, colleague, roommates, bus drivers and even smiling strangers. It is you who make my life different here.
July 30, 2014
ICMA International China team
As a graduate student from Chinese University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), I am so lucky to be the intern of ICMA China Center during this summer.
Since last December, I have become the assistant of Lily Luo, the Executive Director of ICMA China Center in Beijing. Before coming to Washington DC, I was involved in the preparation of the 2014 ICMA Regional Summit in Yangzhou, and served as a volunteer during the conference. . After 3 months of being involved with ICMA activities on the China side, I thought what I have known about ICMA was enough. However, after 2 weeks of life here in DC, I realize that there is still a long way to go.
I will work in the home office during the whole summer, taking care of the Chinese delegations who will participate in the ICMA 100th Anniversary Conference in September. Before and after my arrival, I have been given great considerations. Judit is a nice supervisor, sending me the letter of invitation and helping me solve my residential problems. Berna showed me around on the first day, introducing me to other colleagues. Lisa organized a small meeting for the program managers and me so that I can know everyone in International team. Both Lisa and Berna are very busy, but they still spend half an hour holding a “China Check in” meeting with me every day, making sure that I can catch up with the calendar and get familiar with the job in the fastest speed. I appreciate their hard work, which do alleviate my nerves in a completely new job surrounding.
Last week, I attended some educational meetings. The international team meeting, which is held every two weeks, is also a time for the whole team to look back and move forward their work. I also attended the monthly all staff meeting for the first time on 7/24/2014. During this meeting, staff discussed the key priorities of every team, which was really an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about the whole organization. And on Friday 7/25/2014, I was lucky enough to attend the annual board members’ breakfast meeting. Listening to 6 short speeches, the professional career life of these city managers inspired me. What’s more, their relationships with ICMA told me more information about the external role of this great organization and how meaningful its work is to the nation and even to the world.
Undoubtedly, this internship is not only a special learning process, but also a great opportunity for me to broaden my horizon and enrich my life. Differences make sense, along with challenges. I hope I can overcome all of them and get closer to the culture here. I look forward to the following wonderful days.
July 28, 2014
Today I feel like a soon to be famous author, who dispatches messages from exotic places. The three ICMA members who are serving as guest lecturers at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) in Beijing were invited to attend the Opening Ceremony of 12th China International Chorus Festival at People's Congress Hall. This turned out to be an upscale cultural event for which I wore a tie and polished shoes for the first time since I arrived in China.
The person who extended the invitation was Luo Lijun (Lily), executive director of the ICMA China Center. Lily used to own company that sells medical devices and equipment--X-Rays, C-T scans, etc. She says she volunteers her time at the China Center to “improve the ethics and competence of China local government managers.”
At yesterday’s class, I heard the last group presentation on a public policy topic. One of my student teaching assistants, Pang Qinya (Jane) a fourth year student, led the group. She did an exemplary job comparing roles of Nazi Adolph Eichmann, who was convicted of war crimes after the Holocaust, to Edward Snowden, the fellow who released secret NSA documents. Her conclusion: Eichmann blindly followed Hitler’s orders; Snowden followed his own ethical moral values. Jane intends to apply to prestigious graduate schools in the U.S. to pursue a degree in International Relations. Perhaps I’m playing a small role in grooming a representative of the China government in future negotiations with the U.S. State Department. Jane ranked 5th of 3,000 students in her high school graduating class. Her father is a local government official in a province north of Beijing.
Here is another photo that shows my two student teaching assistants. Pang Qinya (Jane) is on my left side; Zhao Min is on my right. They are standing in front a sculpture of a Water Buffalo, the CUPL mascot. Jane is a volunteer at the ICMA China Center.
July 23, 2014
This is my second dispatch from Beijing, where I’m serving as a guest lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), teaching a three-week summer session. The program is arranged by the ICMA China Center.
It is Tuesday afternoon in Beijing and I finished with my 7th of 10 classes this morning. The number of students in my class is staying steady at 10 students. They range from first year to graduate students. I asked each of the students to discuss why they are taking the class, their first day in the classroom. It is fair to say about half of the students talk about a desire to improve their conversational English language skills. So while I am teaching a class in local government, I have emphasized the students speaking as much as possible. This has varied from debates on public policy matters such as standardized testing and pension reform, to a mock city council meeting, to reports on articles. The articles have been progressively more challenging.
Teaching 10 classes over an 11 day period is not easy for the teacher or students. The classes rotate from morning to afternoon on successive days. This means that on some days you are teaching until 4:00 PM in the afternoon and then again at 8:00 AM in the morning. That doesn’t give you or the students much time to digest what was discussed, prepare for the next day and do any assignments. Some of the students are taking 2 classes during this session so they have class in the morning and afternoon every day. They say that for every one hour in the class room you need to do at least 3 hours of preparation. It is tricky to get everything ready for the next day.
Getting used to the technology here is something you must prepare for. The internet access in the classrooms is not that great and certain internet sites you may be used to using are not available such as Google and YouTube. It is not an unsurmountable problem but it is something you should be aware of. Each classroom has a computer and projector and if you store your information on a flash drive it is very easy to access in the classroom and share with the students. The students are not used to checking their emails as often as others I have interacted with, so I have taken to logging in to a social network they use, just to tell them I have sent them an email.
Going back to the debates that I have had in class, I have felt that they really show the intelligence of the students. Some of the students who are very soft spoken during normal class discussions become quite assertive during the debates. It is obvious that they are struggling with the language issues as much as I am. Thank goodness there are simple translation programs on the mobile phones but we still have some laughs over words we cannot translate to each other.
On a personal side the students seem quite eager to interact with those of us teaching during non-class time. Last night I ended up going out to dinner with another teacher (from Scotland) and 7 students. It was a fascinating time, listening to what interests the students and what the other teachers have to share. By the way, the other teacher and I split the bill for the meal. It cost each of us $25. Yes half of dinner for 9 people cost $25.
Besides teaching and the time preparing for class, we have been asked to participate in an interview with a Chinese magazine and have dinner with the staff of the magazine. That and the spontaneous dinner invitations have kept our time here quite busy.
On an even more personal side, Sunday was my birthday. At the end of class on Saturday my students surprised me with a birthday cake. I also received a crown with Happy Birthday written in Chinese. We then all had lunch in the dining hall and they sang Happy Birthday to me at the end of the meal. Of course I wore my crown during the whole meal. For those of you who read Public Management (see “A Life Well Cycled,” PM, December 2012) you know that my birthday means I have to go for a bike ride. Two friends of one of my students met me at 5:00 AM Sunday morning and we rode 64 Kilometers to the Great Wall and by the Ming Tombs. It reached 96 degrees that day but I had a blast. Here’s a photo to show that I did it.
July 23, 2014
I’m currently serving as a guest lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) in Beijing, teaching a three-week summer session. ICMA members Lyle Wray and Rich Kerbel are also participating. The program is arranged by the ICMA China Center. Here is a report of the first few days.
My flight to Beijing from Chicago via Shanghai was 14 hours nonstop. The weather here is hot and humid much like Florida in the summer. I stayed two nights at the Shanghai Hilton located in what is called the French Concession area, where there were beautiful 1950’s era villa, shade-tree lined streets, many restaurants, high and low end small retail stores. I retained a local woman to navigate the subway system, guide and translate on a tour of Shanghai attractions. We visited a museum and a large Buddhist temple among other places.
Sunday, we had an orientation meeting and a tour of the campus with Jason Lu, Assistant Dean of CUPL’s School of Politics & Public Administration. I revised the syllabus, changed from the first draft after I learned the students will not be as fluent in English reading, writing and speaking as earlier presumed. I scratched material which I feared would be too intimidating.
Each of us has been assigned two student teaching assistants to translate and otherwise help with printing copies of class material, shopping, etc. All are young women, except one male graduate student. The school hosted a wonderful dinner with a diverse array of Chinese food on the night before class sessions began July 14th.
Living expense is comparatively less expensive here than my home in Northwest Indiana. I bought a Chinese cell phone with prepaid minutes for $30 RMD, two pair of lightweight slacks for $50 RMD. My ¼ share of dinner and beer one night was $100 Yuan.
Lyle, Rich, and I joined 3 other guest lecturers: Sieglinde Rosenberger (Professor of Political Science, University of Vienna, Austria); Mark Poustie, Professor of International Environmental Law, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom; and Pichamon Yeophantong, Professor of Global Governance, Nanyang Technological University in Thailand, which is affiliated with Princeton University. Tonight, Lily Luo hosted a dinner for us and two ICMA China Center student volunteer workers at the Auspicious Business Hotel. It was a gourmet array of Chinese food, including the famous Peking Duck. Here’s a photo of Lily with me and members of my public management class.
July 23, 2014
This dispatch comes from Beijing, where I’m currently serving as a guest lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), teaching a three-week summer session. ICMA members Lyle Wray and Richard Underkofler are also participating. The program is arranged by the ICMA China Center.
I am having some trouble adjusting to the time difference. It doesn't help that the sunrise is about 5:00 AM or that I always hear the ding of new emails in the middle of the night. I have taught 2 classes. I have had to revise my syllabus a few times because the English level of the students is less than anticipated. Of course it is a lot better than my Mandarin. One of the revisions is that, they have decided to shorten the number of classes to 10 but increase the length of each class by 30 minutes. My students have decided to make it 3 hours and 30 minutes for our morning classes and 2 hours and 30 minutes for the afternoon classes.
On the 2nd day here I was getting a tour of campus when someone pointed out this poster. While I can't read it, I know it is all about me. They are all over campus.
I haven't had the time to do any touring around Beijing. This afternoon after class my teaching assistant is going to take me on a tour. I am looking forward to getting to see more of the city.
I haven't witnessed any of the pollution they talk about. It was hazy yesterday. It is very hot during the day but it is cool in the morning and several nights or late afternoons there have been very short but impressive thunderstorms. After that it seems like the temperature drops 15 degrees.
I am getting better each day with the chopsticks. We have had 2 meals with groups. The first with 18 people and last night with 7 people. When you do that, you sit at a round table and the host orders all the food for the table. It is then placed on a lazy Susan in the center of the table. As the lazy Susan turns around, you reach in with your chopsticks and take what you want. My other meals are usually in one of the dining halls. I have a meal ticket. I go up to a counter and I point at something and the attendant puts it in a bowl. If one of my students is not with me, I don't have the faintest idea what I am eating but it tastes OK.
May 15, 2014
As I reflect on the last few days of ICMA’s inaugural International Regional Summit, a few key highlights about China stand out to me:
- City to City Partnerships are valued and emphasized as strategic steps towards finding creative solutions. It was interesting to hear that in a city with so many rivers, Yangzhou has conducted a study tour to the City of San Antonio, Texas to learn about their canal system and how they might integrate shops and stores to promote economic development.
- Strong emphasis on ecology and the importance of ‘social capital’. I heard the term ‘social capital’ mentioned several times and realized that the emphasis in China is to try to involve citizens and get them enthusiastic about eco-friendly urbanization.
- Emphasis on city identity. As China continues to urbanize, an emphasis was placed on maintaining local characteristics. In Yangzhou, you can see this by the number parks and outdoor spaces they have provided to their citizens while also trying to rebuild historic areas to have low-carbon footprints.
- Challenges faced in the US are the same in China, just in a different context. China is facing a challenge in how cities are competing against each other to entice developers to come to their city through providing incentives. This has sometimes been in the form of selling land at zero cost. One Chinese official, Mr. Li Tie from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) warned that if this continues, you will see cities going into financial crisis.
- Culture and tradition are incredibly important to how the country operates. I have enjoyed witnessing ‘east meeting west’ in all sense of the concept! I have enjoyed the importance on traditions in order to maintain the countries social fabric. It is incredible to me that we may speak different languages but through the help of translation, we have been able to interact and learn from each other about issues that are extremely relevant no matter where you find yourself in the world!
I want to say a final note to thank CUPL, ICMA China Center, and the Yangzhou government for making my trip to China an unforgettable one!
MOU Signing of Friendship and Cooperation between ICMA and the Yangzhou City Government
John Garvey Scholarship participants, Melissa Stephens (Cedar Hill, Texas) and Maureen Lu (LGMA-Australia) pose with ICMA's Executive Director, Bob O'Neill
Posing with ICMA's Climate Change Professional Fellow (2011), Chen Pu of Changsha, at the Yangzhou Old Town Low Carbon Community Demonstration Project
May 6, 2014
As the communications and marketing manager for ICMA’s international programs, I’m excited to see years of careful groundwork pay off as professionals from ten countries gather in Yangzhou, China, for the first ICMA International Regional Summit, May 11-15. The summit’s theme, “Eco-Friendly Urbanization,” is particularly timely. It reflects the challenges of sustainable development in a rapidly urbanizing world—a critical priority for China, the United States, and other participating countries.
Sponsored by ICMA, the City of Yangzhou, and the ICMA China Center, the summit will bring together local government professionals from ICMA and its international affiliate organizations as well as Chinese local, provincial, and state leaders, urbanization experts, and university professors.
ICMA started building mutually beneficial relationships with Chinese institutions and individuals about a decade ago, and members have supported these initiatives. At the summit, they’ll be involved as workshop presenters, guest lecturers, and “EcoPartners” with Chinese towns. And the ICMA International Committee has scheduled its spring meeting in conjunction with the summit.
Early arrivals have an opportunity to participate in a pre-summit study tour to historical and cultural sites around Beijing starting May 7. And I’m hoping they’ll contribute to “International Dispatches” to share insights and photos with those of us “back home”!
January 24, 2014
ICMA is looking for cities in the United States and Canada with innovative and multi-stakeholder crime prevention programs to partner with municipalities in El Salvador and Guatemala. The partnerships are a key feature of the Municipal Partnerships for Violence Prevention in Central America (AMUPREV) program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
AMUPREV implements violence prevention strategies and programs through city-to-city exchanges that incorporate training and technical assistance for local governments, community groups, and police officers. AMUPREV has partnered cities in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama with American jurisdictions, allowing city officials to share successful crime prevention strategies with their peers.
Police departments interested in this enriching opportunity must include some Spanish speakers and must engage in community policing practices. Partnerships typically last for 12-18 months and involve several trips to and from the U.S. and the Central American countries. Participants contribute their time pro bono; travel expenses are paid by USAID.
Questions? Please contact Lisa Lau (email@example.com) by February 14, 2014.
Click here to learn more about AMUPREV, or visit the AMUPREV website for information in Spanish. For more recent news about the program, read the latest AMUPREV articles: Santa Ana Shares Crime Prevention Strategies with Guatemalan Officials and Recognition for AMUPREV Partner Jurisdictions.
January 3, 2014
The IwB is Calling for Curriculum Partners for the 2014-2015 Academic Year
The Institute without Boundaries (IwB) is seeking curriculum partners for Connecting Divided Places, a project that will investigate the social, economic, environmental, and cultural divisions in cities. The Institute is calling out to all municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, and companies from around the world, interested in working with the IwB to address the wicked problems dividing their cities and regions.
The IwB wants to know what challenges your city is facing.
Interested organizations are invited to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to take part in the 2014-2015 Connecting Divided Places project.
The deadline to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) is Monday, January 13, 2014.
Additional information and the EOI submission form are available at: www.institutewithoutboundaries.com.
About the IwB
The IwB, based in Toronto (Canada) as part of George Brown College, offers more than a decade of expertise working with municipalities, industry, and various not-for-profit organizations. It is a unique research center, design studio, and academic post-graduate program that focuses on collaborative design practice with the objectives of social, ecological and economic innovation through design research and strategy.
The IwB has worked with a variety of public, private and not-for-profit partners, including:
- Dublin City Council (Ireland)
- City of Markham (Canada)
- City of Lota in (Chile),
- The Costa Rican Ministries of Culture and Housing
- Bruce Mau Design Studio
- Evergreen Canada
- Canon Design
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
- Habitat for Humanity
- Harbinger Foundation
As part of the curriculum, the IwB assigns a variety of real-world, diverse assignments to its students, including the development of master plans to communities in need of restructuring; the prototyping of innovative, sustainable housing solutions; and the redesigning of physical and digital infrastructure to help improve municipal service delivery, among many others. All courses are taught by design professionals currently working in the industry and students are mentored in all aspects of project development.
Interested in the IwB’s work, but not sure if next year’s project is a good fit? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
December 18, 2013
A Chinese delegation from the Beijing Municipality visited Wyndham City Council on 22nd Novermber 2013 as part of a study visit to Australia – Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Led by the Deputy Director of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Finance, the delegation is the first by the Chinese government with a focus on annual budgeting and asset management.
The Mayor of Wyndham City Council and head of the delegation Mr Chen Xiaoping exchanged greetings and gifts in the morning, followed by a guided tour around the council.
Wyndham City Council Director of Corporate Services, Steven Lambert gave a presentation on the annual planning and budgeting system of the council. There was a heated discussion on differences of two countries’ practice in annual planning. Mr Lambert also shared good practice in engagement with communities and transparency in budgeting process.
Mr Chen Xiaoping expressed his appreciation of Wyndham’s hospitality. He said he was impressed by the well-developed annual budgeting process and would like to invite Wyndham council representatives visit Beijing. “We are looking for more opportunities to exchange knowledge and share experiences with Wyndham City Council in the future,” Mr Chen said.
In the afternoon, the delegation visited the Victorian Department of Transport Planning and Local Infrastructure. The acting Director Sector Development, Local Government Victoria, Mark Grant and Manager of Intergovernmental Relations, Local Government Victoria, Kathy Pryor presented on the state government’s work in supporting local government asset management. Mr Grant said “the value of local infrastructure in Victoria is $67 billion, which means the local government is under a lot of responsibility in managing its asset.”
The delegation discussed the fact that Beijing Municipal Government is facing the same challenge with asset management. They spoke highly of the Victorian Government Local Government Performance Reporting Framework. “These are some very valuable practices for government in asset management. We will adapt the great ideas into our work in Beijing,” said Mr Li Qiang, Deputy Director of Financial Bureau of Shunyi District Beijing.
Facing challenges in a changing economic and political environment, Chinese local governments can learn from the good practice of Australia. Delegations from Chinese provincial and local governments, as well as from central government departments, have participated in LGMA study tours on local government planning and budgeting, asset management, community services, CSO, workforce development, talent management etc.
LGMA National regularly receives delegations from China. Other recent delegations include those from the financial departments of Dalian Municipal Government, Information Center for Publicity and Education, General Office of the Commission of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and National Resources Commission. For more information about LGMA National’s international delegation and information exchange, visit http://www.lgma.org.au/
December 3, 2013
The Five Pavilion Bridge in Yangzhou
Information on visiting a good bit of amazing dynamic China in May 2014 is now out for as part of the first-ever international regional summit. Local governments are increasingly joining their communities in making an international perspective a part of their strategies for building community, quality economic development, and benchmarking. It follows that the association of local government professionals, would offer programs to enable its membership to see transportation systems, business parks, and neighborhoods outside the traditional ICMA North American stronghold. As evidence of our association’s international perspective, the ICMA International Committee has conducted annual spring meetings abroad and the ICMA Executive Board has built international venues into their regular meeting rotation.
Specific to China, the new ICMA China Center is off to a fast start and building relationships and tries in the world’s second biggest economy that is urbanizing at an amazing clip. McKinsey & Company says that “By 2025, China will have 221 cities with one million–plus inhabitants—compared with 35 cities of this size in Europe today—and 23 cities with more than five million.” The core International Regional Summit with be in Yangzhou, China between May 11-15. http://icma.org/en/international/Page/100823/ICMA_International_Regional_Summit_in_China_May_2014
Registration is required by January 31, 2014, but is no cost. Yangzhou is a fascinating city with centuries of history as one of the original canal cities. Marco Polo served as “city manager” there on his travels. Around the International Regional Summit and International Committee meeting, there are optional study tours. http://icma.org/en/international/Page/100781/ICMA_China_Center_Study_Tours You can enjoy a guided pre- and/or post-summit tour and see Beijing, Wuxi, Hangzhou, and Xi’an. So, make your plane reservation, get your passport out and start working on the visa to join your local government colleagues in China this May.
November 12, 2013
For years local governments in Australia have been facing the challenge of attracting young talent to community work.
Now we are in a particularly crucial moment, because one third of Australia's local government workforce is reaching retirement age in the next decade. Compared to the private sector, local governments are equipped with fewer monetary resources and are not always good at providing clear career paths and training and promotion opportunities.
Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay believes that despite its financial disadvantage for attracting Gen-Y professionals, local government is actually an ideal fit with the millennials.
Contrary to popular views, Hugh Mackay believes Gen Y is a "we" generation, rather than an "I" generation. Young people today are full of ambition and commitment to make the world a better place. They are keen on environmental preservation, embrace cultural differences and are committed to making a difference in the community.
For local government managers, to harness the energy of Gen Y for community work means to adapt new technology and working environment to appeal to Gen Ys. After all, in Australia, local government is the only level of government that has a direct contribution to local communities.
To read more about how local governments attract Gen-Y, LG Manager October/November edition is online now!
November 8, 2013
Over the years, I have worked on projects or in technical fields that gave me an appreciation for good building codes. Having worked on air quality outreach efforts in Denver, Colorado, I was very familiar with their housing codes that were adopted to help the city clean its air. For example, in the early 1990s, Denver and cities in the surrounding area modified their building codes to only allow clean burning fireplaces to be installed in all new construction. This coupled with other efforts made a big improvement in air quality for the Denver metropolitan region.
For our Green Generation Project in Jordan, we are raising awareness with engineering and architectural students at three universities about the importance of building codes and how they can help Jordan solve its current water and energy challenges. Jordan imports more than 95% of its energy needs and is rated 4th worst in the world for water resources. So we hope in some small way we can contribute to solutions to these challenges.
Using traditional and social media and through in person awareness sessions, we are bringing best practice surrounding water conservation in their plumbing codes and drawing attention to Jordan’s newly enacted code requiring all new construction to install solar water heaters. Additionally, Jordan recently issued a green building guide to encourage more citizens and contractors to build more sustainably.
Solar water heaters on the roof of an apartment building.
ICMA is working with its local partner, Dr. Amal Hijazi and her company, Sustainable Environmental and Energy Solutions (SEES), for this program that is targeting students at Jordan University (JU) in Amman, Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) in Irbid and Al-Hussein University (AHU) in Ma’an. The project is supported by a grant from USAID's Public Action for Water, Energy and the Environment (PAP) program.
At one of the breaks at the awareness session at AHU, Dr. Hijazi speaks with engineering students about Jordan's water and wastewater issues.
At these awareness sessions, I have discussed the importance of codes as well as highlighted the resources that ICMA has on the Knowledge Network. I also ask them if there is one thing they can do at their house or on their campus to help conserve water. They have had great ideas like installing aerators on faucets and conducting an audit of buildings to see which ones use the most water. At JUST and AHU, we also had a vibrant discussion on insulation – and what a difference that could make in heating and cooling and making your home “greener.”
Hasan (left) with SEES, is speaking to a student at AHU and showing him the Facebook page for Jordan Green Generation.
Joining me on this project is Emily Sadigh, ICMA member and Sustainability Director for Alameda County, California. Emily just joined me here in Jordan and she will be sharing her outreach and behavioral change expertise with the Jordan National Building Council so they can build off the Green Generation efforts to reach more citizens to raise awareness and build compliance with the new building codes.
I enjoy meeting and working with the students and look forward to hearing more of their ideas to address Jordan’s water and energy needs! If you want to follow what is happening on the Green Generation project (in English and Arabic), like us on Facebook at our Jordan Green Generation page or follow us on Twitter - @jordangreengen.
And for more information about ICMA International, visit our website.
October 1, 2013
John Ravlic LGMA National CEO with the delegation at the Parliament House of Australia
Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) is a leading professional organization representing the national interests of its members and local government professionals around Australia. LGMA is committed to advancing excellence in local government management in Asia-Pacific region. It is an international affiliate of ICMA.
Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Local Government Planning and Budgeting (AIPLGPB) is a program funded by AusAID. It will run over two years with three Indonesian study tours visiting Australia. The delegates include government officials from provincial and central government in Indonesia, who have remarkable interest in decentralization and local governance in Indonesia.
It has been a week since I am back to the cold and windy Melbourne. The beautiful white and purple scarf Anton and His wife has given to me as a leaving gift keep reminding me of the great time during the study tour with LGMA Indonesian delegations.
As part of the program of Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Local Government Planning and Budgeting (wow the longest program name ever!), 13 delegates from provincial and central governments came to Australia for a two-week study tour, visiting three cities - Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.
The first day I met the delegation was a typical bright and sunny day in Queensland. The first group dinner was full of laughter and jokes, when our lovely translator Icha told me that it was a tradition that in Indonesia that when people met for the first time, everyone had to share with others a funny story and they would compete for the funnist story! What a great tradition! One more thing that the rest of the world need to learn from Indonesia :)
End of the journey, I am back to the office with the thoughts and memories full of colors. I will spend some time to paint all the colors for my dearest friends. I will try my best to write down all the stories: the stories when the delegates enjoyed every visit and presentation and the stories that the delegates keep asking presenters questions so we have to delay morning tea and make lunch afternoon tea. More importantly I will tell the the story when I forget my laptop; the story when Conny was so certain that it wouldn't rain and next minute we had no place to hide; the story that Herman and I spent all our coins buying chocolate in supermarket and drove the cashier crazy; the story that our translater was a great performer; and the story that we shared tears and touching moments when the visit was about to end, but we were happy because we know the friendship will last.
It was a study tour full of fun, and it all started when I met the group of people who were wearing the most colorful shirts and dresses. They waved at me even they didn't know me yet and their smiles were brighter than the Queensland sunshine.
For more information about LGMA international programs, please visit our website: http://www.lgma.org.au/
September 26, 2013
Children draw images if their ideal, crime-free neighborhoods.
Currently battling high crime and violence rates, Latin America seeks innovative solutions to build safer communities. Nearly 40 representatives from crime and violence prevention committees in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama, representatives from municipal associations in Costa Rica, and other interested stakeholders from the region and Mexico tuned in for a special virtual discussion based on the CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) methodology last week, as part of one of the activities of the USAID-funded AMUPREV (Municipal Partnerships for Violence Prevention in Central America) Program. AMUPREV facilitates a number of city-to-city exchanges between Central American municipal officials and police officers in Panama, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and their counterparts in the United States.
Following introductions, Macarena Rau, executive director of PBK Consulting and Vice-President of the International CPTED Association, ICA, explained the concept of CPTED, which focuses on principles of natural vigilance and control as well as access to and maintenance of infrastructure to create a sense of territorial belonging to a community. According to Macarena, neighborhoods that are uncared for can oftentimes serve as breeding grounds for illegal activities. The objectives of CPTED include reducing crime and insecurity, as well as increasing community cohesion. She specifically emphasized the importance of engaging youth in community activities such as painting lively, colorful murals on neighborhood walls. By becoming more involved in these activities, residents tend to gain a sense of ownership of their community, which can deter crime and violence.
After Macarena’s presentation, participants eagerly asked questions about community engagement and how to pair CPTED with community policing. The representatives of the crime and violence prevention committees and the municipal associations were interested in engaging in further discussions to possibly incorporate CPTED into their strategies in the future.
To learn more about ICMA International, visit the website and the International Development topic in the Knowledge Network, or contact email@example.com.
September 19, 2013
Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) is a leading professional organization which represents city managers throughout Australia and Asia-Pacific. The LGMA releases a bimonthly publication called LGManager. In this publication they discuss leading practices in local government management.
The August-September 2013 issue of LGManager contains articles on social media, the gender gap in local government management, changing an existing city plan through community collaboration, and innovative technology practices.
- “Surfing the Online Tsunami” explores social media’s role in news outlets, from more traditional news sources to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
- Angela Zivkovic introduces Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s policy perspective on the factors that perpetuate the gender gap in local government management.
- LGManager speaks with Doug Fletcher in the article “Create, Innovate, Adapt” about the factors behind local government’s innovative use of solar energy.
- LGManager explores a partnership between Australia and Indonesia called the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Decentralization.
- Logan City Australia needed to redesign their city plan through a three-day council-led summit that brought together business representatives, government officials, and community members. Read “Logan Draws the Line” to review their accomplishments.
Go to the Local Government Managers Australia’s website to read this month’s newsletter and to sign up for future editions for free. They produce great content that you do not want to miss out on!
Post prepared by: ICMA's Robin Saywitz
September 17, 2013
Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana CA, Continues Crime Prevention Strategies with Guatemalan Officials from the municipalities of Santa Catarina Pinula, Palencia, and Mixco as well as with Police Recruits and Administrators from the National Civil Police of Guatemala.
During the week of July 14th, 2013, I was fortunate enough to share with Guatemalan stakeholders crime prevention strategies that have proven successful in the City of Santa Ana over the past two decades and I also had the special opportunity to address police academy administrators and recruits in Guatemala regarding Community Oriented Policing Strategies. Dr. Cristina Jose Kampfner, a psychologist and co-founder of the Evergreen-Cedar Center also shared her experiences with the program that she started in Santa Ana.
The underlying talks with the municipalities centered on crime prevention efforts that the City of Santa Ana has embraced in partnership with the different stakeholders within the community. The talks had an underlying emphasis on building trust. One partnership that was highlighted is the one that exists between the Evergreen-Cedar Community Center and the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD).
The Evergreen-Cedar Center was started by Dr. Cristina Jose Kampfner in collaboration with retired SAPD Sgt. Kevin Brown in one of Santa Ana’s most crime-ridden and neglected neighborhoods. The Center is a safe haven for kids needing an accessible library or quiet place to complete homework and it also functions as a place where parents can get much needed counseling, advice, and support from each other in their quest to better their community and keep their children safe. The center also hosts the SAPD in providing The Parent Academy; a comprehensive 4 week course that teaches parents a variety of topics relating to their children.
It was a pleasure to see that after representatives from both Palencia and Santa Catarina, Guatamala visited Santa Ana in March 2013, they have committed to the idea of developing projects at schools for children and providing more support to develop programs such as those offered by the Evergreen-Cedar Center. To show us the work that they are doing, municipality members took us to their community centers. The centers I visited were filled with kids learning art, music, computing, and they all had willing parents and community members that were dedicated to help make the centers a success. I was able to take my observations and integrate them into my talks as I shared other strategies and programs that have proven successful in Santa Ana such as the Explorer Program, Jr. COP, and SAPAAL (Santa Ana’s Youth Athletic League).
My presentations at the Guatemala Police Academy were especially meaningful as I was able to share my experiences over the past two decades when it comes to the Community Oriented Policing Philosophy. I began my career when the shift toward community policing was looked at by many as merely an idea, the latest fad, or a label; that some in law enforcement were being forced to transition toward, rather than the proven policing strategy that police agencies now strive to perfect.
My presentation with the police academy administrators and instructors was well received as I was able to bring the perspective from an academy recruit, who came into this profession when it was transitioning from the post 1992 Los Angeles Riots, through my present experiences and active participation within the SAPD’s community policing outreach efforts. The police recruits were receptive and taking notes as I was able to personalize my talk with them by sharing my own experiences as a former police academy instructor and field training officer.
Even though the policing structure in Guatemala is different than that in the United States, the recruits had many interesting questions that they posed during the question and answer session. One of the questions centered on the challenge of immersion within the community where one works and the threat of violence toward law enforcement by the criminal element. We brainstormed different strategies like the development of confidential informants, developing block captains, and identifying local leaders that can help law enforcement help the community.
As I reflect on this trip, I could only feel optimistic about the communities and the challenges that my Guatemalan friends will face when it comes to crime and violence prevention. These communities are on a solid path toward reducing juvenile delinquency as they are already implementing proven strategies that they learned about when they visited Santa Ana. The confidence and eagerness that I saw by everyone involved in this effort speaks volumes about their resolve to succeed.
One of the main challenges that these communities will face when it comes to the implementation of specific strategies will be the ability to identify and raise funds for different program costs. Funding remains a problem that transcends national lines, as we are all doing more with less nowadays. However, I shared some strategies with the Guatemalan officials that I spoke with -- build the network, make the connections, knock on doors, pitch the programs to those who might be able to help, and the funding will come.
The question of finding fund providers came up during my visit to Mixco. I gave Mayor Otto Pérez Leal the example of one Santa Ana Police Service Officer, who wrote company after company dozens of requests for any surplus’ they might have (i.e. extra computers, bicycle helmets, backpacks). I described how one determined individual (PSO Gloria Perez), for the price of a stamp and a well written letter, obtained a semi-truck load full of donated word processors that arrived one day at the SAPD Westend Office, and how hundreds of backpacks and bicycle helmets were also donated by other companies eager to help the cause; all of which were distributed to the kids involved in our programs. The look on the Mayor’s face when I described Gloria’s resolve to gather supplies was all I needed to know that he got my message and that nothing was going to stop the people of Mixco, Guatemala from doing the same.
The success of this trip could not have been possible without the tireless effort put forth by Lisa Lau, Program Manager for ICMA, Carlos Loría-Chaves, ICMA’s Governance & Economic Advisor and Regional Program Director for AMUPREV (Municipal Partnerships for Violence Prevention in Central America), the USAID-funded program under which this trip was made possible, and Karin Peña, AMUPREV ’s Local Technical Consultant in Guatemala. Lisa, Karin, and Carlos were instrumental in coordinating the trip, advising on the different triumphs and challenges experienced within each municipality, and on the strategies that have worked to date. They also provided much feedback on the proposed power point presentations, ensuring that they were as impactful as possible. This preparation, which began over a month before the trip, made it possible for us to share the community policing concepts and experiences that will have the greatest bearing and probability of success with our Guatemalan friends. This team also prepared me well for what I was to expect and what would be expected of me.
I extend many thanks to ICMA on behalf of the City of Santa Ana Police Department for the partnerships that they have built and for allowing the SAPD to share in these important exchanges. I also thank Chief Carlos Rojas for the opportunity to represent and share our efforts when it comes to community policing.
Detective Corporal Adrian Silva
July 17, 2013
The State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program allows more than 5,000 international officials annually to come to the U.S.
Occasionally at ICMA, we have international visitors come to the office who are interested in learning about local governance. Last Thursday, our Afghanistan Regional Director, Sandra Tripp-Jones, and our Director of International Programs, David Grossman, welcomed a group of 22 government officials from 21 countries across the world, including China, Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, and Venezuela.
These visitors are part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, a program funded by the U.S. State Department that connects international leaders with American government officials. Participants are nominated and selected by staff at U.S. embassies all over the world. Over a three week period, they meet with city officials, visit both public and private sector organizations, and engage in cultural U.S. activities.
Sandra and David gave the visitors an overview of ICMA, some of our exchange programs, and local governance in the U.S. Eager to learn more, the guests inquired about the differences between nonprofit and profit work and the council-manager vs. strong mayor forms of government, among other questions. David commented after the visit, “For me, it was very special that ICMA could connect with the vast majority of this group having had meaningful local government connections in their countries.”
If you’d like to learn more about some of ICMA’s international programs, visit the ICMA International website, the International Development topic area in the Knowledge Network, and the International Dispatches and Notes from CityLinks blogs, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.