President’s Message: A Home for Buzz Lightyear

Catherine SmithWhen I think of IAP2, I think of maple syrup and chocolate. These aren’t the thoughts I expect, but they are what come to mind. Why syrup? Why chocolate? Well, these delicacies arrived in my mailbox for the past few years at the holidays from an IAP2 colleague, who calls the deep woods of Wisconsin his home. IAP2USA was the only reason we met.

This year, the chocolate came with a note with the details of how it came to be—the spices it has, the near miss of almost forgetting to add the syrup into the bubbling chocolate, the children who stood at the stove to witness this magic.

Receiving a gift like that is exactly what makes IAP2 more than a house, but a home. 

That home is growing. At the end of 2019, we had: 

  • 1700 members, an increase of 400 in one year
  • 11 chapters, including 4 new ones in Nebraska, Sacramento, San Francisco/Oakland, and Lonestar (Texas)
  • An expanded management team, specializing in different aspects of the organization 
  • Our first annual giving campaign (thank you donors!) achieving more than $3000 for scholarships, and a new board commitment to giving a little bit of treasure along with the time and talent already offered
  • A new tradition of partnering with the host-city organization, so we do good work while our conference is in town
  • A formal committee established on diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Far more than can fit in a newsletter list

buzz lightyearThe thing is this—all that growth is leading to more growth. That growth brings to other thoughts to my mind…desires to think big…and, those thoughts bring to mind Buzz Lightyear. Specifically, his optimistic declaration, “To infinity and beyond!”

Yes, I know Buzz is fictional, but his sentiment is not. At the cusp of a new year, a new decade and a new era full of consequence, it feels very much like an “infinity and beyond” time. It’s time to think big—again—for this is part of the culture of the organization since its founding. We have big thoughts. We wonder, what if? We seek to improve what is and to stand for what’s good.

We need look no further than this past month for proof. Colleagues are giving their services to help Australia recover from fires and flooding like we’ve ever seen. 

In our own country, we are advancing awareness of good public participation to bring people together around core values we share for decisions about a whole range of topics: resilience, public safety, social justice, aging infrastructure, natural resource protection and restoration, and new ways to live, learn, move, and relate.

There seems to be an infinite number of issues where we can be a strong voice, even the voice, to say this: no matter what public decision is being made, we have the values, the training, the tools to help people make good decisions together. We know we do, we do it every day.

That’s the kind of home we are.

Because of our aspirations and the realities of this new decade, we have a busy home. Our team is working daily to strengthen the organization’s infrastructure, so it can grow strategically. We are reading the input from our recent member survey and building new partnerships. We are updating systems, coordinating with other regions, supporting the transitions with International, expanding our offerings, and troubleshooting issues along the way. And, while doing so, we are welcoming new members and seeking ways to thank existing ones for joining us, building us, staying with us, and inspiring us.

So, yes, Buzz Lightyear’s rallying call “to infinity and beyond!” fits just fine in this house we call our professional home. We’re just lucky enough to get aim for new heights with a box of homemade chocolates in hand. 

Thank you for your good work in 2019. Now on to a new decade!


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