Michelle Markiewicz, UCSD Student
Being a first-timer at an APA Conference – the 2016 Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, I can say that it was a great experience. With the packed and abundance in programs, workshops, and activities, it was difficult for someone not to find a topic to sit in on. After sitting in on a dozen different programs, I gained so much from each session that all were relatable to courses that I have taken and applicable to real life situations. Some of my favorite aspects of the conference over all were the Resume Clinic, Expo, and all the activities for first-timers. I had the pleasure of volunteering at the conference and it was a great way to get plugged into the dynamic and get involved in different aspects of the conference. This was a great way to network and meet new people from so many different places.
Out of all the various sessions that I went to, one of my favorites was Vacant Lots to Vibrant Spots. This session especially resonated with me because many of the issues that downtown areas that I have studied dealt with vacant lots. What to do with these vacant lots that creates a gathering place and life in places that had negative stigma’s attached to them? Many of the case studies that were discussed during this program were associated with drugs or because of the stigma attached to vacant lots. A significant point that was expressed was that vacancy is measured differently across the U.S. and is a growing problem. Some costs that derive from vacant lots are taxes, property values decrease, and loss of development opportunity costs.
In conclusion, how are organizations and planners handling these vacant lots? By incorporating and engaging with citizens, local projects are able to utilize volunteers to transform these vacant lots into vibrant places.
Editor’s Note: The SDAPA Chapter provided funding for local students to attend the National APA Conference in Phoenix, Arizona