There was a very sad irony associated with the timing of my first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Adler School in Chicago.
In addition to its main campus in Chicago, Adler also has a small but successful school in Vancouver. When the Board was searching for an additional Vancouver Trustee, my name was suggested to the Vancouver Dean Larry Axelrod by Michael Rosen. Michael was the highly respected urban planner with whom I worked for many years, most recently in his capacity as the planner for the Village of Anmore. I say was since tragically, Michael died suddenly last Sunday and his funeral took place just before I left for Chicago. I say suddenly since I have a recent email from him suggesting a lunch at his home office the very day his funeral took place.
It is therefore so very, very sad for all involved. Larry was a pall-bearer at the funeral held at Har-El Synagogue in West Vancouver, and I am so sorry he, Michael and Iwill never get the chance to get together over a drink and reflect on the terrible mistake Michael made by putting my name forward!
Rest in peace Michael. There may not be any photos of you at Google Images, but you will never be forgotten by your wife Karen and your children and everyone who came in contact with you over the years. Your principled decency will remain legendary within the Metro Vancouver planning community, as noted by your friend and colleague Doug Halverson to the overflowing crowd at your funeral.
For those of you not familiar with the Adler School, (which I suspect is almost everyone of you), its mission is to continue the pioneering work of Freud's colleague Alfred Adler, who is generally acknowledged as the first 'community psychologist'. The School graduates socially responsible practioners with Masters (and in US Doctorate) degrees who go on to engage communities and advance social justice.
The Vancouver campus is located on a number of floors in a downtown Georgia Street office building. While this struck me as somewhat odd at first, it certainly demonstrates the School's goal of being part of the community. Furthermore, both SFU and the New York Institute of Technology are also located in downtown office locations.
The Chicago campus is in a very urban loction on North Dearborn Avenue, steps away from State Street and the heart of the city. (It was formally located in the same building as Morton's Steak House.) It is also in an older office building although the school has a significant presence with street level window displays and an impressive 'off the wall' sign.
(I highlight this since I know how diffiicult it can be to get approval for an off-the-wall sign on a heritage building. I learned from first hand experience when I was hired to get approval for such a sign on the former Vancouver Public Library for a company called...are you ready Off the Wall!)
My first day at Adler was most interesting. Wandering around the campus I was impressed by the wonderful views afforded the students (the admin and faculty offices are generally on the inside); the public art including this piece, Everywhere but Chicago (that lists every town and city in the world, except...)
and the sign on the washroom door.
The President Ray Crossman PhD is a very impressive man who is generally credited with advancing the School's programs and success in both Chicago and Vancouver. He is surrounded by a highly qualified staff and advised by a Board of Trustees that includes a variety of people from both the world of Psychology and the broader community. By chance I was seated next to a bank president and a charming man who described himself as a recovering politician. (I thought Mike Harcourt was the only recovering politician!)
I will write more in months to come, but will conclude by observing that listening to Adler's Lynn Todman, an urban planner and other faculty, I realized that while I many never have taken a psychology course in my life, the teachings of the School and the work I and other planners and developers are involved with is very intertwined. While I was not even familiar with Adler when I accepted this role, my years at SFU and on various Boards including the Art Gallery, BCBC and Louis Brier Hospital are surprisingly relevant.
Therefore, I hope that over my three year term I can help spread the teachings of Alfred Adler and an awareness of his School to a wider audience in Vancouver since I believe there is much we can learn from each other.