September 2012

President’s Column

Change in society

Choosing a catch line to reflect the omnipresent reality of “changes” affecting land economics, is difficult. The counterfoil to change is, of course, consistency. Is the relevance of either important? My choice of a catch line to examine both is a line from William Wyler’s’ 1958 motion picture production “The Big Country”, namely: “If there is one thing I enjoy more than a good friend, it is a dedicated enemy.”

Clearly change in society is inevitable.

Is “change” the enemy of land economics? If change is an enemy, it needs to be carefully watched, to be kept close, to be revisited periodically and with discipline, to be considered within a context and, where possible, to be molded and directed to the common wheel.

No member of Lambda Alpha will deny the ravages of change on land economics. Many changes occur from directions, societal interventions and foibles that can be random, unexpected or are the consequence of deliberative initiatives and advancements from diverse fields. Two principle variables of land economics investment are time and space. These near tangible commodities are pivotal to our industry: how, when, where, why and what resources should be committed? The land use planning, architecture, building finishes, use rights, intensification, pop-up enterprises, consumer technology, manufacturing reshoreing are all susceptible to changes to which the application of the principles of land economics can benefit from study.

To a degree, as land economists, we rely upon educational institutions, governments and industry sectors to identify, evaluate and lead change as reflective guardians on timeliness and efficiency. These institutions are besought by a myriad of imperfections in prioritization, communications, distillations, consensus and action vehicles. It is this diversity of thought, opinion, trial and error that makes the application of land economics principles a continuum of diversity and experimentation, including triumph and disaster. The Industrial Revolution did not need the automobile; human settlement did not need the elevator; and the globalization of markets does not mean communities need to be organized on a criteria of efficiency or accessibility, or favoured transportation networks or trained workforces – or does it?

No organization or disciple can resist change. To be successful, being alert to change, monitoring change, identifying the variables affecting change, measuring the time cycles and anticipating a change and its implications locally and globally is the task, but whose task?

At Lambda Alpha, many of our members come together consensually in regular sessions for discussion on topics of change. We assemble a diversity of source inputs for testing and opinion. We do this locally by chapters to the benefit of participating members. We do it globally by LAI both in the sense of our outreach to create international chapters and in disseminating individual members through the chapters’ wider exposure. In recent months at Lambda Alpha, I have advised the membership of efforts to change our house to accommodate an even greater dissemination of thought, opinion and contribution between us. Your Board of Governors meets to consider how Lambda Alpha should change. Members will see initiatives in the anticipated October roll out of the website with new features of communication, information storage retrieval and dissemination. Our Strategic Plan has implementation objectives. We have a funding model that will permit LAI to augment efforts of the Land Economics Foundation to harness land economics research, to achieve a better grasp on those enemies to time and space that, societies cumulative and sporadic decision making process can deliver.

There is a role for organizations like Lambda Alpha to disseminate perspective and bring wisdom to bear on our enemy, change. It has long been recognized that our members cumulatively across the world represent a boundless depth of knowledge and expertise in the variables shaping and applying land economics principles to change. As an international organization we could do more. The Strategic Plan of Lambda Alpha International sets goals and objectives. The delivery of that Strategic Plan and its successors is dependent upon our governance model, our casting priorities and the acceptance of our role in shaping larger societal interests. We need to get on with that objective.

At the same time, a governance review is underway. While I may personally believe that Lambda Alpha has the governance structure and flexibility necessary to activate robust contributions to our shared discipline, I support the monitoring of the status quo to assess whether change can benefit the achievement of our strategic directions.

In Hawaii, the Board of Governors is being asked to accommodate a review of governance. A Special Committee is envisioned to volunteers across the Society. Our Chapter Presidents have already been invited to canvass volunteers of interest. Like the fraternity of volunteers that we are, I am hopeful that those who step forward to populate this vehicle to assess our governance structure will embrace both our good friend and the “enemy”, change, with both perspective and purpose. Let’s enjoy the challenges. In the meantime, let’s get on with using our new platforms and make more meaningful contributions as our Society re-evaluates globalization and it influence on the use of time and space.

Editor’s Column

Navigating the Grid

Many of us have navigation built into our cars or our phones that help us find the route from point A to B. Some of us also go on-line or listen to the radio to find out the status of congestion or construction on the roadway network, or the problems on the transit network. If we are walking or bicycling, we look out the window or listen to the weather forecast to make sure we are prepared for the worst. If we have toll roads or toll bridges enroute, we might look for optional routes to save a couple bucks. Information is important to our travel decision-making regarding mode, route, and time of departure.

At the same time we are "monitoring" the network conditions, the operators of the transportation networks are monitoring us by collecting traffic volume and speed information real time. Some of that is fed back to us as noted in the first paragraph so we can make routing decisions to avoid congestion. Some of the information is now being used to vary tolls: higher when demand is high, and lower when demand is low. This happens on some toll bridges, and on the High Occupancy Toll lanes that are being implemented in several metropolitan areas.

Toll collection could be expanded to more parts of the network. This would increase government revenues and would be justified as user fees in lieu of raising taxes; a strategy that could have bi-partisan support. Technology is now available to implement congestion pricing that urban transportation economists have dreamed about forever: manage the use of the network by pricing.

So now, let's visualize a future that puts all this together. I finish my breakfast and turn on my hand-held device to find out the best way to get from home to work this morning. The system taps into the real time data about weather, bus and rail transit operations and passenger loading levels, congestion and current and forecast fee and toll levels, travel times, etc., etc. My little computer asks me how I feel about crowding on the bus and subway, when I want or need to get to my office today, whether I am feeling frugal or price is not a factor to avoid crowding or being late, etc., etc. The computer crunches the numbers and the recommendation is made to make my trip as enjoyable as possible. Don’t forget to take your umbrella!

Land Economics Foundation

How You can Help LEF Become the Tour de Force in Land Economics Research

The Land Economics Foundation (LEF) is a body created by LAI to promote research in the field of land economics. Its Board of Directors, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, has launched an ambitious drive to transform LEF into a leading champion of land economics research. This cannot happen without the support of all LAI members – and that include you.

Here are five things you can do to further the growth of LEF:

#1: Check the LEF Voluntary Contribution box on your 2013 Membership Dues Invoice
LEF depends on the contributions of LAI members to fund the research projects it supports. It is critical that each and every LAI member makes a voluntary contribution of $75 each year at the time of membership renewal. We appeal to each LAI member – check the voluntary contribution box on your membership renewal – this will enable your LEF Board of Directors to fund important new land economics research projects.

#2: Pass along names of potential benefactors to augment the funds generated by LAI members
 The attainment of LEF’s objective of funding $100,000 of research annually requires significant funding beyond what LAI members are providing each year. Do you know of individuals, companies, associations or foundations that could be a source of additional funding for land economic research projects? If so, pass the names along to the Chair of LEF’s External Funding Committee – Ron Buss at – Ron and his committee will be more than happy to follow up all contacts provided them by LAI members.

#3: Tell us how we might communicate better with LAI members to increase awareness and interest in LEF and its activity
Many LAI members have little awareness of what LEF is all about despite our efforts to acquaint them with the purpose, structure, strategic aspirations, research funded, both completed and underway, in various ways including articles in recent issues of KeyNotes. Let us know what you think we need to do to enhance the profile of LEF and its important research activities among the LAI membership. Contact the co-chairs of LEF’s Communication Committee – Bronywn Krog at or Bruce Krushelnicki at and give them your ideas.

#4:  Generate enthusiasm for the work of LEF in your LAI chapter
We need a champion for LEF and its research mission and activities in each LAI chapter. How about signing up for this important charge in your chapter? Contact Steven Gragg, LEF President, at to let him know of your interest.

#5: Let LEF know about land economics research topics you think are important and the names of local researchers capable of undertaking land economics research
 LEF’s Research Committee under my leadership – Frank Clayton at – would very much like to receive ideas for research projects from LAI members – also the names and background of key researchers in the communities where LAI members work and live. Got ideas? Share them with us.

With your help LEF will make an increasingly meaningful contribution to furthering the body of knowledge we call land economics.


The Hawaii LEW is Fast Approaching

The Fall 2012 LEW is fast approaching. Pre-registration closes September 25. So take a moment now to make sure you are part of this exciting two and one half days of tours and social events. We have been sending you are series of “Reasons for Attending” this LEW. The first and most important reason is to experience Aloha. The island way of welcome, of sharing its traditions, of making you feel at home. The Aloha spirit is infused in the culture, the food, and the people.

The second reason is Knowledge. All the tours will be led by the people who created various projects. They will explain the land economics behind their work, their dreams and aspirations, the outcomes and lessons learned. The third reason is History and Location. Our speakers will explain the historic background to our land tenure system, unique in the United States; of our Royal heritage that led to today’s large land trusts; or our all-branch military history and strategic location for today’s military. The fourth reason is Connections, meeting up with old friends, discovering new ones, sharing stories. The fifth reason we call Cuisine. In a short period of three days you will experience an extraordinary and diverse array of Pacific cuisine, from some of Hawaii’s most noted chefs who will prepare their finest dishes often made from locally grown ingredients and freshly caught seafood or range beef following the farm to table movement.

The full series is a mini course in Hawaii LEW, and can be found at our special Aloha LEW website. It could go on for many more rounds, but you get this picture. The Aloha Chapter would love to have you join us.

Is Your Chapter Interested in Hosting A LEW?

LAI has sought to alternate LEW events, east and west,  to provide differing experiences and some relief  in distances travelled.  Chapters are invited to consider the available dates and provide an indication of Board interest in being the Host Chapter for one of these special events. If your Chapter is interested in hosting a LEW, please get in touch with us:

LEW Dates:

2013 - SPRING: Boston, MA - April 25-27 FALL: San Francisco, CA (Golden Gate) - October 5-7
2014 - SPRING: Open FALL: Madrid, Spain
2015 - SPRING: Open FALL: San Diego, CA
2016 - SPRING: Open FALL: Open

A New KeyNotes

Starting with the October issue, KeyNotes will have a whole new layout and format. Chapter Corner submissions will have their own section on the NEW website. KeyNotes content will continue to include the President’s letter, the Editor’s column, LEF News, general announcements and from time-to-time, the Featured Article. KeyNotes new look and feel will match the new website.

Chapter Corner submissions will still be posted every month when KeyNotes is produced so submission deadlines will remain the same. Chapter Corner will be broadcast to the membership via a link in KeyNotes.

Also, with the new Chapter Corner, members will be able to search and filter for just a single chapter (For example: if an Atlanta chapter member wants to see all the Chapter Corner submissions for Atlanta for the past year they can.)

KeyNotes is published monthly for members of Lambda Alpha International. Send your announcements for the next edition of KeyNotes to

Editor: Lou Slade, GW Chapter,
Assistant Editor: Helen Sause,
Production Manager: Brenna Mohr,

For more information about LAI activities, contact LAI.