Monday, January 5, 2015
"Looking back, I see that I spent much of my professional life searching for good urban forms and model planning processes." David R. Godschalk, "A Planning Life: Bridging Academics and Practice," Journal of the American Planning Association. Vol 80, No. 1, Winter 2014 "Planning is a diverse field and it can be hard to figure out if it will the right fit. Some years ago a committee of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning ...developed...six core themes in planning...(that) provide a good starting point for prospective students. They include: Improving human settlements; Making connections; Dealing with the future and 'pathways of change; Identifying diverse needs and how they play out in human settlements; Engaging 'open participation in decision making; and Linking knowledge to action." Ann Forsyth, "How to decide if Planning is for You," Planetizen, November 26, 2014. I started planning school forty years ago at the University of Illinois at Chicago and went on to get a Ph.D. in city and regional planning at Cornell. I wondered whether these reflections and kernels of advice would resonate with me after all these years and mirror, to some degree, my motivations for studying and pursuing several careers in city planning. I happily found myself engaged and enthused. For me, it has always been the combination of envisioning community and taking collaborative action that made planning so attractive -- in addition to the melding of theory, practice, and a wide array of humanistic and social science disciplines. I do wish both pieces had better addressed some of the conundrums of domestic U.S. planning efforts. The social equity dimension of planning is somewhat stalled despite many valiant efforts -- and planning as a public profession still remains a follower of many economic and political trends. Planning's future is bright given the need for smart, green, livable human settlements -- but I worry about its relevance for an increasingly bifurcated, unequal and segregated society.