I am pleased and honored to celebrate the 25th anniversary of PRCUD. My association with PRCUD goes back a decade ago when I was working and living in Beijing for the World Bank. I was invited by Professor Heikkila to participate in the Nanjing PRCUD roundtable discussions on cultural heritage preservation. The event was very well organized and well attended, and the exchange of views by both local and international experts was exciting and stimulating. I felt very fortunate and proud to be part of the PRCUD network.
Since then I have joined eight subsequent PRCUD forums, including four in the capacity as PRCUD President. I have truly enjoyed each and every forum. Who wouldn't with the range of challenging topics we have covered: preserving cultural heritage; revitalizing inner city neighborhoods; transforming urban riverfronts; planning for climate change; stimulating the urban economy; and reforming low-income housing. It's been wonderful to spend time with officials and residents of the diverse host cities and national agencies who have invited us to be their partner. I have gained as much as I have given by the learning and sharing that has taken place at each forum.
Twenty-five years ago today, as I write, the Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development was incorporated as a non-profit mutual benefit corporation in the State of California. This was the culminating action of a three-day conference held in Los Angeles, August 6th - 8th, 1989, where the Inaugural Address was given by then Mayor Tom Bradley. It was one year earlier, however, that the 0th ("zeroth") PRCUD meeting was held, in Taipei. It was there that PRCUD assumed its embryonic form.
The guiding light for all this was my dearly beloved mentor, Professor Chuan-Feng Wang. It was my privilege to work as his helpmate, where my then-youthful energy was guided by his quixotic sense of purposeful adventure tempered with wisdom and experience. That was a time that trans-Pacific real estate investments were growing at a remarkable pace, and his initial vision for PRCUD was a convening forum for movers and shakers in that process. The truth is, it did not quite work out that way, for any number of reasons, but we had a great deal of fun along the way.
By the time a decade had passed, Professor Wang's sense of adventure led him elsewhere, to the venture capital arena. Meanwhile, PRCUD took on a life of its own under a succession of Presidents including Koichi Mera, Yiu-Kwan Fan, Ed Blakely, Paul Tanimura, Robert Stimson, Lan-Yuan Lim, Terry Byrnes, Cornelis Dijkgraaf, Yeong-Joo Hahn and, now, Tom Zearley. Greg Fant, having set in place our initial charter, provided pragmatic legal counsel along the way. Having had nowhere better to go, I stuck around and provided a thread of continuity throughout.
The realization of PRCUD in its current form first took hold in Kaohsiung, the venue for our first Roundtable Forum in 1998. This was the result of a deliberate bit of institutional engineering, whereby we brought to the foreground key aspects of PRCUD that we valued most. We shed the staid old paper-presenting, speech-making format in favor of site visits and structured dialogue amongst professional peers with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. At about this time we also transformed our business model from a membership-based organization to one that put to the test our value-added proposition by asking host cities to sponsor our events.
As I reflect on these past twenty-five years, what I am most proud of is the quality and integrity of our work. This of course is derived from the quality and integrity of our core participants. Seldom has an organization mixed business with pleasure so effectively, as we truly have enjoyed each other's company while valuing our respective professional contributions. Moreover, we now have a long string of successful Forums to look back upon, and we have created a virtual library of case studies (many of which are graced by the skillful draftsmanship of Paul Rabé) that should have enduring value.
Looking forward, it will soon enough be time for a next generation to step in and bring PRCUD to its Golden Anniversary twenty-five years hence. To that end, we need to foster more engagement by young professionals who can derive knowledge and stature from their association with PRCUD while also taking on the challenges of leadership. What better way to begin that process than to provide support for deserving young scholars worldwide who can enhance our collective understanding of contemporary urban development challenges? My fondest hope in this regard is to establish a PRCUD Doctoral Fellowship for that purpose named in honor of Professor C.F. Wang.
Eric J. Heikkila
It all started with the vision that the 21st Century would be the Pacific Century.
In 1988 Dr CF Wang hosted a meeting in Taipei to brainstorm possible ways of bringing closer the economies around the Pacific Rim. Among the professionals invited were Eric Heikkila and myself. The meeting concluded with a plan of establishing a tri-partite organization bringing together the academics, the government officials and the business communities in the region to discuss, advocate and eventually implement new policy initiatives with the objective of fostering closer cooperation among Pacific Rim economies on issues of urban development. Intensive preparatory work followed, and on 8 August 1989 PRCUD was born!
Being one of the founding members of PRCUD, I am proud and happy to witness the 25th Birthday of the organization. Over the past quarter-century we have made significant contribution to policy designs on urban planning and development in many Pacific Rim economies. With increasing economic globalization and the gradual shift of geopolitical weight toward the Pacific, as we had expected back in 1988, we can look forward to many opportunities in the future for PRCUD to contribute to policy initiatives and "make a difference".
Happy 25th Anniversary!
Over the past 25 years PRCUD has had significant milestones, holding 23 forums from Los Angeles in 1989 to Bangkok in 2013. Since I myself joined Brisbane meeting in 1995,
I have been able to witness how we connect people and find ways to innovate and make a difference in people's every day life. I believe PRCUD is creating a community to not only provide insight to urban cities but to also help each other in so many different ways.
I am truly honored to be a working with distinguished people who strive to make a difference in the world. In the next 25 years, we will be living in a much more advanced environment and I am looking forward to continuing to address urban development concerns in the Pacific Rim region.