Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Planner as teacher.

Municipal Planning departments need to engage their communities with active efforts to teach/inform about planning practices and contemporary theory as it relates to their community's context. This needs to be done in an ongoing manner that is independent of any particular project or application (which is almost exclusively the case and often leads to the forming of adversarial positions and a sense that the municipality is trying to justify their actions, as opposed to providing unbiased information). I suggest we execute strategies that use all the professional facilitation, engagement, and participatory tools we have available to achieve this (for example: social networking tools; walking tours; open space sessions; workshops; charrettes; videos; surveys; lectures; newspaper and magazine articles; posters; TV and radio discussions; publishing booklets; free courses, etcetera).

The goal is to increase the knowledge and understanding of planning within the community. Over time we would be helping to build a citizenry that is able to understand and engage in planning actions with more awareness, effective measures, and participation. The results of this kind of work would bring us closer to municipal planning that is fair, efficient, just, and effective.

If our efforts are focused on building the places of our communities and ensuring that the "machine" runs efficiently, but we lose sight of building our citizens with the assets of knowledge and understanding that empowers them, we as Planners are forgetting who this is all for. People.

Give a community a plan; you have informed them.

Teach a community how to plan; and you have empowered them.

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