A newbie posted something similar in the joke thread the other day. I can say that even though I was in planning for 22 years, and for the last 12 of those my mom saw many of my appearances at hearings on t.v., she never understood what I did.
That's one of the fun things about being married to another planner. Nobody has to explain all the planning terms and acronyms.
That is pretty good Tide!
I love these things. They have been floating around a lot lately. Very nice job on this one.
Occupy Your Brain!
Thanks and feel free to pass it on. For what I really do could have gone a few different ways. I picked the empty public meeting but it could have easily been sitting in front of a computer GISing or writing.
For what society thinks I do, it's hard to find a picture that exemplifies wedding or event planning this is the best I could find.
What's a planner?
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)
I did have a friend once ask me if I could help her plan a fundraising event.
"What? You are a planner aren't you?"
I've also been asked for advice on interior decorating, which I will gladly give because it is super fun, but they were under the impression that urban planners selected interior wall colors.
Occupy Your Brain!
To business people we hold up plans and reduce profits (SIGNS!!!), to Joe Citizen we take away his rights (whatever that means), and to Council members we take complaints they hear from residents. I had a man come in a while back and asked what I thought of a small site design and afterwards he said, "You know I was kidding right. If XYZ Street (1960/1970 commercial arterial) is what happened because of planners then you're profession is worthless". Our profession would be much better served if we didn't have to answer to people answering to their constituents who have no spacial/aesthetic/environmental knowledge. In half the country we are the gub'ment and in the other half we make sure terrible plans conform to our terrible ordinances.
The general public sees planing when something bad happens but never sees the thousands of times planning has prevented something bad from happening. ("Thanks for not allowing that loud bar next to my house"). People complain that society needs to change but leaders with that opportunity rarely ever want to follow through because they are afraid of what the public might say. Most of us would say we "help shape our communities". But if your community is headed in the wrong direction with the wrong leadership are your credentials really worth anything?
I would venture a guess that those of us on this site are here because we care about planning; to us it is not just a job or a profession because we couldn't get into architecture school. Us planners need to stop fighting with ourselves. If we really believe as a profession that there is a sure-fire way of positive growth we need to recognize that and make ourselves a licensed profession and guarantee the future is built according to our knowledge. This is why we have no recognition with the public - there is no standard to what we do. In one town you count parking spaces for that new Walmart and in another you redesign downtown. I don't want to be blamed for policies from the 1970s and if a town wants to build in that fashion let them, just not with a Planner. I honestly believe if this happened there would be a remarkable difference in towns with Planners than towns without Planners.
I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.
Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.
No Signature Required
WTF? Why so many guests on this thread?
85 reading this thread. (4 members, 81 guests)
Richmond Jake wahday Zoning Goddess+ JNA+
Personally, I am not too bothered by not being well understood. It can be frustrating to have people denigrate the profession, sure, but is this really that different from a profession like law? I'm sure many lawyers get a lot of crap from people and many might ask similarly uninformed questions like "you sue people, right?" when they may, in fact, be a public defender.
Same with a doctor.
"Hey doc, can you look at this lump on my a$$?"
"Uh, yeah...I'm a laboratory researcher looking at the degradation of amyloid and the role of APOE4 as a key risk factor for Alzheimer's. So...no, I can't look at your a$$. Now please pull your pants up"
The purpose of life is a life of purpose
Tide, this made me laugh and I had to post it to my Facebook for all of my other planner friends. I have lost track of how many people think I am a financial or event planner. Most people's eyes glaze over when I try to explain what I do in 15 seconds.
In many communities, planners are nothing more than code monkeys most of the time. The planning staff reviews development applications and issues permits as efficiently as possible, while respecting the administration's orders that we are "business-friendly" and don't overburden our applicants. We catch crap for being "difficult" and stifling economic growth when we push for an apartment complex to complete a Traffic Impact Analysis, yet 2 years down the road the public comes to a City Council meeting complaining that their intersection is all congested because the new apartment complex. There is a huge disconnect between many city's administrations and the planning department.
What the public doesn't realize is that planners do a lot of other things besides development review and writing "worthless 20 year plans". In my department we are responsible for everything from growth management to streetlight requests. I have always said that a majority of people look to the City to protect them from their neighbor, yet the damn guvmit better not dare to tell them what to do on their property. I get frustrated at times when we are pushed aside, yet I do enjoy the little wins like finally getting a streetlight for a resident or when the administration finally listens to our concerns and ideas.
I think that planners and planning has captured more of the spotlight in the last few years. I was pleasantly surprised when I attended a public visioning meeting in a rural county for a HUD Sustainable Communities plan that the MPO is writing. There was a huge turn out and most people were pretty receptive to the plan's goals. The key is framing planning decisions as a way to encourage economic growth and smart infrastructure investments. Our department has been pretty successful in using this tact to explain our new zoning revision. The truth is that most developers just want to understand the expectations and have some reasonable assurance that their neighbors will have to follow the same rules. Why would a developer want to spend the money on a high-quality development if there is no guarantee that some machine shop or auto repair/used car lot is going next door. The same goes for most residents. Why would I spend the money improving my house when a hog farm or loud bar could go next door. [/RANT]
Last edited by rcgplanner; 16 Feb 2012 at 12:57 AM.
"Life's a journey, not a destination"
After more than 11 years at my job my wife finally understands that I do not work for the state.
"I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."
~ Otterpop ~
"If Planning is everything, then maybe it is nothing?"
Always loved this quote and it seems fitting for this thread. A profession that is pulled in so many directions, with such a broad tent, may not even be a single, coherent profession at all when all is said and done
The most pithy and concise way I've come up with for explaining what I do is to tell people that I help "manage change in the urban environment."
I also may say that cities don't "just happen" and that I am one of many people who work on building cities, along with architects, developers, lawyers, landowners, etc.