Southern California Streets Initiative Publisher Damien Newton (center) and Santa Monica Next Steering Committee Member Carter Rubin (left) join others at a Next-sponsored event featuring Urban Planner and Artist James Rojas at which participants got to imagine their ideal future Santa Monica. Photo by James Rojas.
Southern California Streets Initiative Publisher Damien Newton (center) and Santa Monica Next Steering Committee Member Carter Rubin (left) join others at a Next-sponsored event featuring Urban Planner and Artist James Rojas at which participants got to imagine their ideal future Santa Monica. Photo by James Rojas.

For the past three years, we at Santa Monica Next have sought to unravel and explain in an accessible way the complexities of urban planning. Sometimes it has meant doing deep bores into housing policy. Other times it has meant making videos and graphics to illustrate facts and opinions better than words alone can. Sometimes, it has meant making silly memes about Donald Trump.

In recognition of this work, Santa Monica Next has been honored by the Los Angeles section of the American Planning Association (APA) with an Award of Excellence in its “Communications Initiative” categoryNext is the only publication honored this year, but joins its sister site Streetsblog Los Angeles in earning awards from the APA.

“We are thrilled to be receiving this honor,” wrote Damien Newton, the director of the Southern California Streets Initiative, the nonprofit which publishes Next and other news websites.

“This award isn’t just for our excellent editor, Jason Islas and our staff throughout California, but also to our Steering Committee of Santa Monica residents who have donated hundreds of hours of their time to making Next a powerful and important voice for progressive transportation and urban design,” he wrote.

According to the APA, awardees in the Communications Initiative category are recognized for their “efforts to ‘tell the planning story’ and increase awareness and understanding about the planning profession.”

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At Santa Monica Next, our writing team strives to unravel the complexities and nuances of the process of city planning. It’s no secret that perhaps now, more than ever, it’s vital to increase people’s appreciation and understanding of the importance of planning as a profession and as a process.

However, nomination of Next for this award didn’t just focus on the writing and editorial work of the publication but also its 2015 speaker series and 2014’s Vote Local campaign, during which Next actively sought to educate and engage residents of Santa Monica to pay attention to and vote on local races.

As usual, Santa Monica is well represented in this year’s APA awards. Breeze Bike Share and the Pedestrian Action Plan were also honored with an Award for Excellence in Planning Best Practices (Breeze) and Award for Merit for Transportation Planning (Pedestrian Action Plan).

Thanks to all of our readers for your support.