08 October 2014


Getting myself into the 'planning spirit' this morning by watching this documentary I found online: Urbanized.
If you are interested in urban planning, care about your community, live in a city, or just want to learn something I highly recommend this documentary. Its basically everything I've learned throughout my Masters Degree program.

Which gets me thinking, what is the best way to plan a community? and is there only one 'best outcome'? I don't think that we have an answer for either of these questions, but they are a good place to start the brainstorm. I am personally in favor of planning through community involvement + self organized urbanism.
Planning with community is definitely taking off across the USA, this mode of re-designing a city involves talking to the community and understanding what they need, want, and desire to make their spaces better. The first step in any planning process should be to understand the community, we start by looking at demographics, understanding the street grids, knowing where the parks are, what economic activities occur, what leisure activities take place, and what the built environment consists of. The next step is almost always walking the area, surveying to understand if all of the statistics you just found are indeed correct or if the demographics are wrong, if the stores have all closed, maybe you find out that the kids play kickball in the street and the cars stop for them... These are the details that create each community and give it its personality. These are the things you could never find through statistics and research. Surveying, or people watching, is a major part of our profession; not to mention the most fun! Hopefully through your surveying you get to know community members, talk to them, and start holding referendums where they can convene and discuss as a whole their desires. After awhile, the planners start drawing up plans and proposing changes. These changes would ideally be proposed to the community so they might give input.

You can understand how after this lengthy process each community might need something different. One community might need a new grocery store, while another wants a park, and another needs the city to repair damaged roads, etc. Which brings me back to my question 'What is the best way to plan a community?' and the answer is: that there is none.
This is a unique process where the possibilities are endless and the changes can be infinite.
It is a process none-the-less that will always be needed for societies across the earth, so long as humans inhabit the earth; and at the rate we are going, cities are growing exponentially and by 2050 we are expected to have 75% of the human population living in cities. While this impact will not likely be felt within North America or Europe, across Asia, Africa, and South America this will be drastic! The 'developing cities' are growing at a rate previously unseen, what are these cities to do? They definitely should not be following the old model that was set up by the west, but what type of new models should they introduce? How should they organize? What functions do they need? What resources?

I am both excited and frightened at the world we are creating, and I am sure many critiques will be made, yet the possibilities are so great that I don't know if it really matters. At the end of the day, if you can improve the lives of your citizens, even just one person, then isn't that what we are here for?

<3 font="" nelli="">

**Now that I have re-read what I just wrote, I'm not really sure I got us anywhere more than a simple rant.... But hopefully I can make just one person think a little bit more about the process