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Thread: Why did you become a planner?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Why did you become a planner?

    Just wondering how the various cyburbians got started in the planning profession. What led you to it? What made you decide that it was for you?

    While I am not a planner quite yet, my interest in it came a long time ago when I was a kid. I was always interested in city maps and was fascinated with the way cities were put together. Whenever I watched a movie with my parents, I could guess the film location just by seeing the skyline of whatever city it was in. Later on, when I was about 13 or so, the game SimCity came out for the Super Nintendo. I rented it out of curiosity and the rest is history. I went and bought the game and spent a ridiculous amount of time designing my dream cities. I also fought for a long time to build the "Megalopolis" (your population had to reach a certain number and it was very hard to get to) but eventually pulled it off. It was after that point that I started reading more about urban planning and gaining more of an interest. When we would go on road trips, I would memorize the population of every single city and town along the way. It got to where I would give the pop. of a town before we passed the city limits sign and my dad would check if I got it right or not..... hahah! What a nerd, huh?

    Anyway, enough about me. What about the rest of you?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I couldn't stand seeing how stupid some of the development moves were in my little town as I grew up. I hated the parking lot cirulation of my hometowns "shopping center" and produced alternate flow plans to fix the problem. I enjoyed sim city, like many.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Went to school thinking I was going to be an architect. Thankfully, Ball State didn't let me declare a major until after a first year general design studio program.

    Found out, I couldn't draw, couldn't build models worth a damn, and architecture was nothing like I had anticipated. Loved the intro to Planning class (fit well with my strengths in writing and analysis), and have never looked back.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  4. #4
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I went back to school, after many years out of it. My original degree was in journalism. I first tried an education major, which led me into history, then biology, then geography and finally, wanting a degree I could actually get a job in, led me into planning. I had been involved as a citizen in Superfund sites in the Clark Fork River valley and thought planning was a way I could use my interest in the land for good use.

    If I wasn't so bad at math, I probably would have become a hydrologist or geologist.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    What's attracted me to Planning is the money and the chiks.

  6. #6
         
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    Started out wanting to be an architect, but when I had to take a course on the history of cities, I realized that was were my true love was.

  7. #7
    Got a degree in history when we still took notes on stone tablets. Knocked around for a while after discovering I couldn't make money with a history degree unless I wanted to teach. Nope. Went to ol' Ball State for a masters degree in Preservation and cognate in Planning. Luckiest move I ever made. Now planning for 17+ years with a good dollop of preservation thrown in the mix.

    Thinking more and more of opening my own little history storefront, however.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

  8. #8
    I originally went to school to become a lawyer. So, I declared in the school of public and environmental affairs, thinking that I was going to take criminal justice into law school. Well, I enjoyed my first year of college a little too much and this was reflected in grades. That pretty much killed law school. As part of SPEA, I had to take a planning class. Well, the professor had an extensive background in planning and took me under his wing. Added to this was my family's long history of public service. The rest, as they say, is history. However, I did do an internship in a public defenders office my final semester just to settle the matter once and for all. Seeing how lawyers actually worked made up my mind.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  9. #9
    I started out in architecture school but after the 2nd year realized that architecture wasn't for me. I did take a course in city planning which eventually lead me into going to grad school and getting a planning degree.

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Started off in high school thinking I wanted to be an architect, so I took two architectural drafting courses as electives. I quickly discovered that I got bored designing buildings and found out the job market wasn't great. So then I thought I might want to be a civil engineer and work on bigger projects. I went to a week-long internship at a local engineering firm and, quite honestly, found civil engineering to be dull and uncreative. So, I went back and talked to my high school teacher about my thoughts on the two professions and he steered me toward planning. and thus, the 'Burb Fixer was let loose in the planning world!

    "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)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Seems that the majority so far started out with interests in architecture... very interesting

  12. #12
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    My guidance councelor, after hearing me say I wanted to be a psychotic drifter after HS, said the next best thing was planning, as I always fall short of my goals I became a planner.

    Some people strive to be the best...
    Me? I'm happy going for next best. It doesn't sound good to people, but what do they know.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    So I'd have an excuse to drink

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Geography

    Geography was my foot into the planning door......human geography mostly with a dable in soils. Planning is the practice of human geography. Oh and for all you architects and engineers out there, buildings and structures are things humans make to complete, join or connect their spaces and therefore are part of the big picture (human geography).
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Started out in Landscape Architecture (AIB others the trip up class was plant materials )
    switched to geography (pre GIS)
    then 8 yrs later went to grad school for planning.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    In 1999, I took a couple of classes and tested out of 3 others in order to lock in my old undergrad credits by wrapping them up in the form of an AA in Humanities so that if I ever managed to get back to college, they would not tell me to start over from square one. One of the classes I took was Environmental Biology. It was an online class and I was perusing the class website 2 days before class officially started and read the final project: propose an off the grid building and independent income from a rural piece of fictitious land. I knew half the solution right then and there. I had thought all homemakers read articles about solar power and stuff. Afterall, my primary interest is because I am a cheapskate and don't want an electric bill.

    I also tested out of Algebra that semester, scoring in the 89th percentile. When I was inducted into Mu Alpha Theta at age 16 in 11th grade, I didn't understand how much power a strong math background had to open doors to whatever career I wanted. I realized I really didn't need to pursue some pink collar ghetto job and could do pretty much whatever I wanted. I remembered how much fun I had buying a Fixer and rehabbing it with sweat equity. I decided I wanted a career having to do with the built environment, did a little research and listed about 5 or 6 majors that might interest me and then did more research. I ultimately decided I wanted a Master's in Planning and a Bachelor's in some kind of environmental studies program. I was in a bachelor's degree program that fall. Tried simcity and decided I should also get a certificate in GIS. I have my certificate in GIS (graduate level work) but still have not finished my bachelor's. I may be too busy working and such to ever get back to school.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Just wondering how the various cyburbians got started in the planning profession. What led you to it? What made you decide that it was for you?

    While I am not a planner quite yet, my interest in it came a long time ago when I was a kid. I was always interested in city maps and was fascinated with the way cities were put together. Whenever I watched a movie with my parents, I could guess the film location just by seeing the skyline of whatever city it was in. Later on, when I was about 13 or so, the game SimCity came out for the Super Nintendo. I rented it out of curiosity and the rest is history. I went and bought the game and spent a ridiculous amount of time designing my dream cities. I also fought for a long time to build the "Megalopolis" (your population had to reach a certain number and it was very hard to get to) but eventually pulled it off. It was after that point that I started reading more about urban planning and gaining more of an interest. When we would go on road trips, I would memorize the population of every single city and town along the way. It got to where I would give the pop. of a town before we passed the city limits sign and my dad would check if I got it right or not..... hahah! What a nerd, huh?

    Anyway, enough about me. What about the rest of you?
    I could not find anything else to do with a geography undegraduate degree.....

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    To the SimCity players: have you ever been playing SimCity and tried to use the ArcInfo hotkeys to pan/zoom before realizing, "Wait... this isn't the base layer of the city...."

    I've done this more times than I can count

  19. #19
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    The planner gene?

    I came to the US when I was nine and it took some time before I had enough language skills to communicate well with others. My parents worked round the clock, so I was mostly left to my own devices. I spent my after school hours poring over maps and atlases and making lego cities. One of my favorite hobbies was riding the transit system in NYC.

    Despite these obvious warning signs, I went into media out of college. One recession and six not so pleasant years later here I am back in a GIS program, and soon hopefully onto a master's in planning, poli sci or geography (still deciding).

  20. #20
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    Returned to school after the whole "starting a family" thing as a computer science major. Found out that I love to use software and hate to write it. Had to take a science as part of the core and liked science so much I took geology, biology, and geography. Ended with a A.S. in english and a B.S. in geography with a minor in geology. Can't get a job with credentials like that, and was being mentored by a 30 year AICP professor who convinced me that I'd make a stellar planner. So, three months ago I graduated with the MPA (concentration Planning/Development), and am still working as a "temp" at the City I interned at. Hopefully the future will bring me to someplace wonderful...anybody got a "wonderful" entry-level opening???

  21. #21

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    I grew up in Detroit during the time it became the nation's urban whipping boy -- "murder capital of the world", large-scale white flight, yada yada yada. As a kid I wondered why people wanted to abandon the city rather than make it a better place, and I wanted to find the profession that would help me do that.

    I went to Disney World when I was 11, and I saw how careful maintenance of the built environment could lead to really great experiences (although I wouldn't have put it quite that way when I was so young).

    At first I thought architecture was the way to go, but a "career week" presentation by a jaded architect when I was in the 8th grade showed me that being an architect sucked. But a city planner gave a presentation later that week that showed me that there were people working on the same issues I saw.

    Ever since my focus has been on neighborhood planning and community and economic development. But I must admit, if I had found landscape architecture or a true urban design program before planning, I might have moved in that direction.

    Oh yeah, like jordanb said, the chicks and the money were a big draw, too.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    What's attracted me to Planning is the money and the chiks.
    Hey you stole my quote!

    Actually I grew up in a relatively poor, and during a turbulent time in Detroit's history. I experienced white flight when all my friends just up and left within the course of only a couple of years when I was young, and had to make new ones. I also saw the decline of Downtown as a businsess district. Some of the planners I talk with that are only a few years younger than I cannot believe it that I remember where each store was, what they sold, where my dentist was, where my dad worked, they think of me as an old Geezer at 38! The change was that profound.

    I first started off in architecture school thinking that was the way to become a developer and bring the city back to life. While in school CAD started to rear its ugly head and architects had fewer jobs. I also became aware of the business climate, and that developers were not exactly beating down the door to save Detroit so I started looking at options. A local university had a unique program that specialized in Urban Geography, and you could co-major in Urban Studies. I chose that program to finish my bachelor's degree. The program seemed very interesting to me, even though I had no idea that planners even existed at that time. It fit well with my work schedule which was a big bonus as I was on a pay as you go sort of program as my parents wee pretty much tapped out of funds to send me to school as they already spent thousands sending their kids through the catholic school system, and were not completed sending them through when I began college.

    I went to grad school but quit with a 3.8 GPA and 27 credit hours. I just could not relate well with the students and most of the teachers. I felt like a fish out of water as this was a suburban university and race was a factor, I had never attened a school so white in my life, even though I am white, I just thought it was weird.

    I try to get into inner city junior high schools a couple of times per year to explain who I am, where I come from, and how they can make planniing a career. I think its sad how many of these kids are written off and forgotten about.. but thats another thread.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Hey you stole my quote!

    Actually I grew up in a relatively poor, and during a turbulent time in Detroit's history. I experienced white flight when all my friends just up and left within the course of only a couple of years when I was young, and had to make new ones. I also saw the decline of Downtown as a businsess district. Some of the planners I talk with that are only a few years younger than I cannot believe it that I remember where each store was, what they sold, where my dentist was, where my dad worked, they think of me as an old Geezer at 38! The change was that profound.

    I first started off in architecture school thinking that was the way to become a developer and bring the city back to life. While in school CAD started to rear its ugly head and architects had fewer jobs. I also became aware of the business climate, and that developers were not exactly beating down the door to save Detroit so I started looking at options. A local university had a unique program that specialized in Urban Geography, and you could co-major in Urban Studies. I chose that program to finish my bachelor's degree. The program seemed very interesting to me, even though I had no idea that planners even existed at that time. It fit well with my work schedule which was a big bonus as I was on a pay as you go sort of program as my parents wee pretty much tapped out of funds to send me to school as they already spent thousands sending their kids through the catholic school system, and were not completed sending them through when I began college.

    I went to grad school but quit with a 3.8 GPA and 27 credit hours. I just could not relate well with the students and most of the teachers. I felt like a fish out of water as this was a suburban university and race was a factor, I had never attened a school so white in my life, even though I am white, I just thought it was weird.

    I try to get into inner city junior high schools a couple of times per year to explain who I am, where I come from, and how they can make planniing a career. I think its sad how many of these kids are written off and forgotten about.. but thats another thread.

    Damn, did you read my post and plagarize? I can't believe we had such similar experiences that led to the same future for both of us.

    Why don't all Detroiters become planners?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    I grew up an Air Force brat and got to live and experience various countries and cities. When I was in my teens I began to feel a "sense of place" where ever I went. Some places I've become emotionally attacted to.

    After playing around in Europe for a year after HS, I came back to the states to study accounting. I quickly got bored with accounting and gravitated to a duel major in "things that interested me", which was good for my soul but didn't translate to segui into a career. My BA was in Economics and Geography. I had no luck finding gainful employment and had a new born son with my wife of 1 year. So I turned to grad school and Planning seemed to be a natural fit for my interests. So there you have it. Got the Masters Degree on my 4th (and hopefully last) job.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    I grew up in a suburb that transformed from a crossroads to a regional center by the time I graduated HS. Saw the good, the bad and the ugly of that. Plus my parents took me on a lot of car trips during which I gazed out the window at the variety of scenery that went by and I wondered how it got that way.

    When searching for a college major, I went back and forth between architecture and civil engineering. Once enrolled in an engineering program, I took an urban studies/planning course as an elective, and at the end of my freshman year changed majors (and no, not because it was too hard...I was on dean's list).

    I stuck with planning for grad school instead of maybe going the historic preservation route because I thought that there was more job opportunity---and also because planning included not just historic preservation but the opportunity to work with other issues that were interesting to me as well.

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