Welcome to Cyburbia’s Newest Sub-forum, “Citizen Planners”, created June 14th, 2004
Some months ago, a friend of mine commented that she wanted to find an online discussion forum for community activists like herself. My recent discussion with one of our newer members, Maximov, in the thread “I'm new here; hi! Commercial growth in my rural town” reminded me of the need for such a forum. I do not know if one already exists elsewhere but I feel strongly that having such a forum on Cyburbia – the premiere planning forum, with more than a thousand members already – will have a synergistic (or value-added) potential that an ‘activist only’ forum would lack.
Last week, I began exchanging e-mails with Maximov and introduced her to my friend in New Mexico. I ran my idea past them and they were enthusiastic. I promptly began drafting a proposal per Dan’s outline of requirements. I proposed “a discussion forum for community activists, concerned citizens and others involved in the planning process of their communities who do not do this professionally”. My thought is that this also includes elected officials in small towns and rural communities who get little or no compensation, such as commissioners, part-time Mayors, and similar – people on the fringe, "para-professionals", doing planning without a safety net.
While community activists and other concerned citizens often lack the specialized training and education that is common to the professional community, they may have a wealth of personal experience “in the trenches” – like my friend in New Mexico, who has been doing this kind of work for more than 10 years. Her successes are hard-won and she has accomplished a lot, with no budget, no formal training, and no authority. Obviously, community activists would benefit from having some feedback from professional planners. But I believe the professionals might learn more than they expect. Community activists accomplish things in a different manner from professional planners but they do accomplish many things.
I hope that this forum will promote genuine communication, better understanding, and sincere respect between two groups who often interact only in confrontational situations: the professional planners and the citizen activists. Additionally, this new forum might serve to bridge the gap between the technically proficient, formally educated professionals who dominate Cyburbia and the concerned citizens and others interested in the built environment that are formally welcome here but who usually have little to say outside of the Friday Afternoon Club.
(Your Newest Moderator)