Home > Member Spotlight, Press Release, Student Services > Congratulations to Victor Tran, the first recipient of the IAP2 USA Scholarship!

Congratulations to Victor Tran, the first recipient of the IAP2 USA Scholarship!

Tran Victor quote

Victor Tran is currently in his first year of Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. Motivated by his own family’s story of immigration to Alberta, Canada where he grew up, Victor was eager to learn more about how urban spaces can help reduce real and perceived barriers for different groups of people. How, in fact, the physical design of environments has direct outcomes on the health, sustainability, and overall quality of life for people.

Victor heard inklings of IAP2 when he was working with a business improvement district in Calgary, but as he dove into his planning studies this winter, IAP2’s connection with what he was learning and the work he hopes to do some day clicked. He joined the IAP2 Cascade Chapter and has been an active member since. He also looked around the PSU campus for opportunities to combine his passion for shaping the built environment and public engagement. What he found was a two-day intensive Public Interest Design (PID) course presented by Design Corps, the SEED Network, and the Center for Public Interest Design.

In order to make this happen, Victor sent in an application for the IAP2 USA scholarship in which he described his passion for public participation and the nexus between the goals of IAP2 and the endeavors of PID. The application evaluation panel called his narrative “a story of passion and commitment” said that his “resume shows growth in positions that he has taken starting from university level sustainability research, to designing education spaces [that] enmesh social justice and sustainability practices for youth… [and] most recently doing the leg work for two small community projects. This growth shows initiative, motivation, and passion.”

In April 2017, Victor attended the PID workshop and learned about all the ways in which design can “serve more than just an aesthetic purpose.” The workshop covered a wide scope of projects that demonstrate a truth that often gets missed: planning anything, whether it’s a park or a recycling facility or the place where the planning workshop is happening is a deeply personal endeavor. And it should be. These plans become physical environments that people interact with every day, and their “design should serve public interest.” Victor knows that what he learns through IAP2 can provide him with a wide variety of “tools for informing design strategies” and determining “how to measure and implement good public participation.”

“P2 is a form of democratizing the system so that ‘professionals’ can level the field and understand the people they’re serving. The goal is to remove as many layers of assumptions and biases as possible.”

Victor looks forward to challenging institutions that don’t do any P2 to really think about how their work is being done and the benefits their work is providing. He hopes that he can get them to think critically about how P2 could be integrated, how their constituency would be impacted by more P2, and what kinds of P2 would be possible. That being said, Victor thinks it’s “healthy to recognize that there’s rarely full consensus since everyone comes in the room with their own preferences and biases.” What’s most important is to “take time to listen and appreciate where everyone is coming from.” To him, “good P2 is being able to extend the conversation beyond the single event.”

Victor says the scholarship was a great opportunity and he is grateful to be able to participate. He enjoyed speaking with the panelists, and learned a lot from each panelists unique background and how they were personally involved with IAP2. He is happy to be able to stay connected with IAP2 panelists who are currently in Portland. He hopes to increase his engagement with IAP2 as time goes on. “The scholarship was a great launch into that world, and I have no doubt there are many more great resources that IAP2 has to provide.”

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