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Thread: What subjects do you want to see covered in Planning magazine?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    What subjects do you want to see covered in Planning magazine?

    Here's a question I don't think the APA ever asked, nor would I expect a representative to make a presence here to poll us about the content of their flagship publication.

    Yesterday, I finally got a chance to read the October 2004 edition of Planning magazine. Let's see what's new ...

    Two articles on Oregon ... well, what else is new? I thought "they should just get it over with, and rename the publication "Planning in Portland."

    Article three: the struggle planning agencies have to recruit minority planners. Right away, I recalled the racial divide in grad school -- mostly whites and Asians in urban planning, mostly blacks in the more alturistic-oriented urban studies program, and thought "It's because the majority of minority planners I know are working for CDCs and neighborhood organizations!" About two thirds of the way through the article, I finally read:
    Vazquez notes that many minority planners leave city service to join community development corporations or other organizations where they continue to do planning work, but no longer define themselves as members of the profesion.
    I wanted to let out a Dean scream; finally, someone else backed my casual observations. It was a good, comprehensive article that I would recommend reading, regardless on your opinions of affirmative action, racially targeted recruiting, and other such topics.

    What else is in there ... project management. Okay, but not really about planning or the built environment; it's about planning administration. "All in the Family" ... father and son planners. Not bad; something of a "real planners" story that was fun to read. "The Competitions Craze" - didn't get a chance to read it yet.

    This month, I think Planning magazine earned a B-; some interesting articles that you really wouldn't expect to see in there, but again, too much Oregon, and the project management might be more appropriate for PAS Memo; a good article on its own, but otherwise it seemed a bit out-of-place.

    My inquiry to Cyburbians: what kinds of articles do you want to see in Planning magazine? Let's be serious; no talk of co-ed planning student centerfolds. If asked, would YOU write an article for Planning? Maybe I'll direct the folks at the APA to read this article.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I think that Planning mag should spend more time on issues of "current planning" or development review or what ever it's called in your jurisdiction. Sure, I'm biased, but in my experience, the majority planners are engaged in this area of the profession. And it's not that I'm negative on long-range planning issues as I've enjoyed contributing in that arena and understand the importance of a good general or comprehensive plan.

    Giants v. Astros coming on...I'm gone. (hehehe, Barry with us 2 more seasons).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    The magazine has always been WAY too concerned with sexy (i.e., large) projects in major (i.e., large) cities.

    For starters, how about articles on projects in smaller cities and towns that don't have big-bucks developers salivating over them?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Given the yearnings I've heard on Cyburbia for more job opportunities, maybe an article dealing with the shortage of planners in places like Australia would be a worthwhile addition. It would be more valuable to be written from a personal perspective, ie. by someone that had made the transition and could describe the pitfalls and benefits of taking such a difficult step from a personal perspective.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    How about follow up or issues revisited articles:
    Reconstruction after a disaster, 1 and 5 years later.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rem
    Given the yearnings I've heard on Cyburbia for more job opportunities, maybe an article dealing with the shortage of planners in places like Australia would be a worthwhile addition. It would be more valuable to be written from a personal perspective, ie. by someone that had made the transition and could describe the pitfalls and benefits of taking such a difficult step from a personal perspective.

    Rem, where are most of these shortages in Australia (what areas)? I'm thinking about a career move. But I'm still confused on the whole immigration process and point system. Plus would I have to have residency there for a certian period before applying for a job or would I be able to get my foot in the door from over here?

    BOT:

    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess
    The magazine has always been WAY too concerned with sexy (i.e., large) projects in major (i.e., large) cities.

    For starters, how about articles on projects in smaller cities and towns that don't have big-bucks developers salivating over them?
    I second the motion.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I am interested in more nuts and bolts type of planning. I get tired of reading about how great these featured cities are and blah blah blah. I want more How-To Tools: how to move my city to greatness; how to win a stupid council person over without resorting to unethical actions; how to maintain integrity on the planning commission; how to get planners to the table when important decisions are being made about the community, etc.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    A big fold out map inset like National Geographic. There are like a billion subject that lend themselves to that device.

    How about a profile or a guide for of the lone planner. There are so many one person shops out there that struggle to stay afloat politically and they struggle to stay connected to the profession. Planning in Seattle is easy compared to planning in...let's us use Dodge City Kansas as an example. Its my Dances with Rednecks analogy AIB Donk.

    A matrix listing the various state enabling statue powers and other cool compare-and-contrast subjects.

    A profile of city county governments that have merged and how the planning shops were integrated.

    A profile of a conservative planner every once in a while.

    Reporting on a case where APA actually met the press or came to the defense of an embattled planner doing his or her job.

    A survey of public attitudes. Ask the unwashed their opinions and then do some analysis of why they think the way they do. Then figure out a path to change those attitudes.

    You see these things in newspapers:
    A monthly planners trivia column:
    100 years ago in Planning
    50 years ago in Planning
    25 years ago in Planning

    A honest to goodness editorial cartoon! (even though I know my people will be the target of the vast majority of them)

    Point-Counterpoint (and not Berekely vs. The West Village either)

    I'll think of more and get back to you.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus
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    As usual eG is right on point with his suggestions.

    I might add two story elements/styles from CBS Sunday Morning:

    A Postcard from _______.

    On the Road with ________.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  10. #10
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    A profile of a conservative planner every once in a while.

    How many times can they profile you
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  11. #11
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    More articles about the day-to-day struggles to control and guide the sprawl, economic development, non-transit related transportation, etc, here in fly-over Middle America.

    Mike

  12. #12
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA
    As usual eG is right on point with his suggestions.

    I might add two story elements/styles from CBS Sunday Morning:

    A Postcard from _______.

    On the Road with ________.

    [serious]"On the Road with Dan Tasman -Looking the planning beast in the eye"[/serious]

    Even thought there was a seriously funny SNL skit on this subject I refuse to mention it.

  13. #13
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I'm sick of reading an article every other month about Portland, OR!

    Let's get real; most of us do not get to work in the planning "glamour cities". They need more stuff on smaller, more achievable projects.

    You know, I think they should do a "Why XXXX is going to hell" column each month. Also, I've seen lots of magazines that do caption contests and we planners are always seeing funny things to submit. To me, the magazine needs to have some "social outlet" characteristics like this.

    Basically, the magazine needs more variety--large & small town issues, a mix of liberal & conservative views, major projects in Seattle and small projects elsewhere, more focus on suburban issues since that is where many of us work, etc. I like the idea of a "point-counter point" type column, too.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  14. #14
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    A profile of a conservative planner every once in a while.
    On that note, let's see how cities with a very heavy Republican/conservative bent handle planning issues. Sure, we know how Boulder, Eugene and Santa Fe do things. I'm curious about the challenges planners face in very conservative communities like College Station, Texas or Wheaton, Illinois. Is is possible to implement some of the more progressive things being done in, oh, Portland, in a place like Kennesaw, Georgia?

    It would be night to have some more insight into the personalities of planners; consider all the "planner cars", "planner music" and "planner movies" threads in the FAC.

    An article about where planners live. If you read Planning, you would get the impression that anyone with AICP on their business cards either lives in a gentrified inner city neighborhood, or a cutting-edge new urbanist community. As discussed in the FAC before, most of us don't live like that; we can't afford it! Many planners live in the three bedroom, two bathroom, 2,400 square foot houses on a 1/3 acre lot at the end of a cul-de-sac -- the same places many of us have been conditioned to despise. Why?

    What about an article about salaries? Not just general stats, but a bit more investigative; for instance, why are the salaries for planners in Pennsylvania and Louisiana so low?

    What about examples of BAD planning? Not good planning, not no planning, but where our profession really effed up?

    I'll also echo the voices that say there's too much of an emphasis on silver bullet projects that worked, and mostly from large cities at that.

    I really, really want someone from APA to participate in this thread. Hello? There MUST be a lurker from APA national out there somewhere?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  15. #15
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    APA and "Planning" magazine really don't give much attention to planning in rural, and largely Western states. Which is why we have Western Planner. But the magazine is helpful to find out about "real planning". You never know I might want ot become AICP certified some day.

    Natural resource issues, especially water issues in small western communities would be a nice topic. Road improvements and funding in the same locale. Doing capital improvements without capital is a big issue here.

    And how about an article on what the hell APA does for us?
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  16. #16
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Don't get me started.....

    Quote Originally posted by Rem
    Given the yearnings I've heard on Cyburbia for more job opportunities, maybe an article dealing with the shortage of planners in places like Australia would be a worthwhile addition. It would be more valuable to be written from a personal perspective, ie. by someone that had made the transition and could describe the pitfalls and benefits of taking such a difficult step from a personal perspective.
    Don't get me started....ha ha ha.....se my other post in the other thread today.....

    How about more stuff like you find in American Demographics and a synopsis of professional journal published papers that might actually be worth a damn to read for the day to day planner....

    Or recent changes to Traffic analysis, GIS and whatever else.....
    Updates to keep us current on the software available out their to help planners, complete with recommendations from expert planners on what they would use and why (not just because they get a kickback from the company)......
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 23 Sep 2004 at 3:48 PM.
    Skilled Adoxographer

  17. #17
    Permit me to dredge up some ancient history.

    I was the Assistant Editor of a short-lived publication called "Practicing Planner" Magazine which was published 1975-77.

    The emphasis was on case studies. We looked at what worked, and what didn't, and tried to say what was successful and what needed more work. A good example ws an indepth analysis of one county's efforts to offer financial incentives to devleopers in return for better than usual roads, sewers, parks, etc. We crunched the numbers and looked at the devleopments on the ground. We interviewed the planners, politicans, and the developers. It was a lot of work. One major article could take six-to-eight months to pull together. Don't forget after a draft is in hand it has to go back out for fact checking. You don't want to get anything wrong in one of these projects.

    I realize that APA as an organization has a lot of audiences to serve which include practicioners, academics, and commissioners. There is the question of how to pay for the enormous effort associated with indepth analysis of a planning project or program. Many planning articles are written by volunteers. Also, APA has a "Practicing Planner" publication which is separate from Planning Magazine. So, I don't think there are easy answers.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Tough one

    I am not sure how to save the beast. I have to admit that every issue of Planning sounds like the same propaganda (I mean this in a relatively positive way) to me, with occasional exceptions like the article on minority planners this month.

    I have become more of a fan of the Urban Land Institute and their Urban Land Magazine- although it is also mostly about pretty pictures, at least they tell the other side of the story sometimes. Planning makes every project seem rosy and successful.

    Maybe articles about things planners normally don't learn about but should- how do you do a development proforma, for example?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yes but.....

    Quote Originally posted by Masswich
    I am not sure how to save the beast. I have to admit that every issue of Planning sounds like the same propaganda (I mean this in a relatively positive way) to me, with occasional exceptions like the article on minority planners this month.

    I have become more of a fan of the Urban Land Institute and their Urban Land Magazine- although it is also mostly about pretty pictures, at least they tell the other side of the story sometimes. Planning makes every project seem rosy and successful.

    Maybe articles about things planners normally don't learn about but should- how do you do a development proforma, for example?
    ULI is the minion of the Development community and economic development forces. And it shows in their glossy representations of big dollar developments of financial giants. Their boards tend to be loaded with developers, bankers and consultants of all types. This is all fine, just remember who they are and what they represent (big $$ development and developers) when you talk about them......) They could just as well be called the Urban Economic Development Institute. But I would agree that they do a much better job of presenting the story in a flashy "hey look at us" type of way.. Their membership fees are even higher than APA/AICP together....I think.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Got a little hostility?

    I don't agree at all about ULI- I think they are about trying to do the right thing in a real world where things cost money. Now NAIOP, that's another story.

    Anyway, one could just as easily say that APA is the minoim of rich people who don't want development near their estate homes so they talk about "growth management" and "infill" and "environmental protection." Not my view, but one that is out there.

    And I don't classify myself as a conservative planner- I hear there is only one of those.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I would like to see more coverage of different types of communities. We seem to always be reading of a big city or its suburbs. How about something from central Kansas, or a small town along the Ohio River, or some mountain community?

    I think we could also use greater diversity (and depth) of topics. There is a land-use dominance to the magazine. How about introducing more economic development, landscape architecture, resource management, and similar topics.

    Articles could hold more interest if they did not concern themselves so much with what one place may be doing. Instead pick a topic and contrast how two or three different communities are handling an issue differently.

    Devote more space to new ideas. Planning is usually the last place to profile new planning ideas and their proponents, when it should be the first.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  22. #22
    I suppose weighing in again on this issue may produce some flames, but here goes. As someone who sat in the editor's chair at AIP, albiet, mid 1970s, the problem remains. It is who will pay for the time and effort to write the indepth analyses suggested by some of these posts? These are great ideas for articles so don't get me wrong. In the time I edited planning publications of one kind or another in Denver, Colorado, and Washington, DC, between 1973-79, I never saw anyone paid for writing the pieces that were published in Planning Magazine or in any of the other city/urban magazines.

    It is the nature of the business that writers are usually practicioners who are volunteers when it comes to submitting analysis pieces to Planning, Practicing Planner, etc. Yes, there are research grants that include money for publishing, but when was the last time the Assistant Director of a city planning office in a major city took 3-6 months off to research a topic, wrote about it, and returned to his/her job with everything intact?

    The more indepth research is conducted by its nature by people in academia who have the time, talent (including graduate students), and know how to organize the work. This is no slight on practiioners. It is a fact of life relative to discretionary time available to gather the data, do the cross-project / cross site analysis, and write a readable tract that will be published in a peer reviewed publication.

    Academics are not incentivized by their culture to publish in non-peer reviewed magazines like Planning. Practioners do not have the time to conduct rigorous analysis across multiple cities or project. You wind up with some compromises on scope of articles, depth of analysis, and overall quality of the content. That's what some of these complaints I read in this forum are about. Are they justified, in some ways yes, but in other ways they may be unrealistic.

    My comment is that if planners want really good analysis in their organization's "Planning Magazine," then they should be prepared to pay for it. I assume their employer would have to subscribe to a publication service because the price would be out of reach of many planners personal checkbooks.

    The economics of the profession dictate a limited number of cities / firms / universities are willing to pay for such a service. This pushes the price per subscription higher. It also forces the editor to think carefully about the readership and to cast widely for information on topics that will be useful to the greatest number of paying subscribers.

    Some significant costs could be cut if the publication was completely electronic. Also, if planners could buy articles one-at-a-time similar to the way Harvard Business School handles its flagship publication, that might work for the planning profession as well.

    There is probably an economic / business model that could work for the planning profession. It has to be realistic.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Yesterday, I finally got a chance to read the October 2004 edition of Planning magazine. Let's see what's new ...

    Two articles on Oregon ... well, what else is new? I thought "they should just get it over with, and rename the publication "Planning in Portland."

    My inquiry to Cyburbians: what kinds of articles do you want to see in Planning magazine?
    I enjoyed the two articles (really, three if you count the timely discussion on Measure 37 found on page 6) that were focused on Oregon. IMHO, there is a decent amount of diversity in the Planning Mag's articles and a focus on Oregon is probably deserved. A few months back, I remember reading about the "Mobil Town Center" gas station redevelopment in the shared Mequan/Thiensville, WI "downtown" area. That's not Portland, Oregon, and is pretty insignifcant in the grand scheme of all things planning, but the story still managed to find its way into the magazine.





    Did I mention that I'm a planner in Oregon......??

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Man With a Plan's avatar
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    Housing for Unique Populations

    I would like to learn more about how to provide housing for burnt out 80s hair band musicians. These people dedicated their lives to us 20 years ago, and now, due to the aging process and a paradigm shift in music preference, they are in dire need of affordable housing!

    OK I realize the above is really stupid and has accomplished nothing besides lowering the IQs of everyone who read it, but I'm doing the ZBA Report - I'm sure you people can empathize with the need to say something other than "pursuant to the provisions of Section blah, blah, blah...

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Good points

    These points are excellent. We get what we pay for, which despite people's complaints around here, is actually cheaper than membership at similar professional organizations. Planning ain't the best but when you don't pay the authors what do you expect?

    Quote Originally posted by djysrv
    I suppose weighing in again on this issue may produce some flames, but here goes. As someone who sat in the editor's chair at AIP, albiet, mid 1970s, the problem remains. It is who will pay for the time and effort to write the indepth analyses suggested by some of these posts? These are great ideas for articles so don't get me wrong. In the time I edited planning publications of one kind or another in Denver, Colorado, and Washington, DC, between 1973-79, I never saw anyone paid for writing the pieces that were published in Planning Magazine or in any of the other city/urban magazines.

    It is the nature of the business that writers are usually practicioners who are volunteers when it comes to submitting analysis pieces to Planning, Practicing Planner, etc. Yes, there are research grants that include money for publishing, but when was the last time the Assistant Director of a city planning office in a major city took 3-6 months off to research a topic, wrote about it, and returned to his/her job with everything intact?

    The more indepth research is conducted by its nature by people in academia who have the time, talent (including graduate students), and know how to organize the work. This is no slight on practiioners. It is a fact of life relative to discretionary time available to gather the data, do the cross-project / cross site analysis, and write a readable tract that will be published in a peer reviewed publication.

    Academics are not incentivized by their culture to publish in non-peer reviewed magazines like Planning. Practioners do not have the time to conduct rigorous analysis across multiple cities or project. You wind up with some compromises on scope of articles, depth of analysis, and overall quality of the content. That's what some of these complaints I read in this forum are about. Are they justified, in some ways yes, but in other ways they may be unrealistic.

    My comment is that if planners want really good analysis in their organization's "Planning Magazine," then they should be prepared to pay for it. I assume their employer would have to subscribe to a publication service because the price would be out of reach of many planners personal checkbooks.

    The economics of the profession dictate a limited number of cities / firms / universities are willing to pay for such a service. This pushes the price per subscription higher. It also forces the editor to think carefully about the readership and to cast widely for information on topics that will be useful to the greatest number of paying subscribers.

    Some significant costs could be cut if the publication was completely electronic. Also, if planners could buy articles one-at-a-time similar to the way Harvard Business School handles its flagship publication, that might work for the planning profession as well.

    There is probably an economic / business model that could work for the planning profession. It has to be realistic.

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