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Thread: Am I a planner?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Am I a planner?

    Following this quote in another thread: "As a side note, many urban planners or urban designers started out in life anticipating something different. This is a field where it is perfectly okay to not have a Bachelor's in planning or urban studies or design/architecture because each background coming into the field only makes it stronger through the diversity it brings to the field."

    I'm asking myself again and again if I am a planner... I have a BS In Public Admin, and minors in Bio and Poli Sci. I am the "Planning Coordinator" for a municipality. As such, I process the paperwork for plans that come through, look at how they apply to the local and regional plans, point out any conflicts arising from such, send the plans to the engineer for zoning and subdivision ordinance reviews and once in awhile step out on a limb regarding design, open space set asides, etc.
    I also coordinate the local Open Space Committee and am helping them prioritize their goals, find a direction and accomplish something.
    I represent the township at county executive meetings and local land use planning groups, as well as at the Environmental Advisory Council.
    My background is two years as an intern at an agency that does economic development/heritage tourism/regional economic development planning.

    I'm pursuing my masters in Public Admin at the advice of my planning mentor who said I'm better off with that masters than one in Planning.... but the classes at Temple are tempting. Let's face it, I can't tell someone how to do a good design for a residential development...yet.

    Am I a planner? Or am I an administrator? Both?

    How do I get to the point where I can comfortably tell people the best practices for design of these developments and be taken seriously?

    Thanks.....

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    you might want to ask the mods to move this to the career section

    I think you are a planner - I have good friends that are planning directors without a planning degree but have an MPA - what you might want to think about is directing your coursework in planning as well as the MPA core - even pick a thesis that folds the planning function into administration

    also, and I will get flamed for this, but take the AICP exam as soon as you qualify -

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Planning is a very diverse field and many schools try and divide their emphases into different categories to capture this. Here at UNM, you can concentrate in Natural Resources (watershed management, parks and rec type work, trails, greenways, etc.), Community Development (housing, economic development, the kind of work often done by Community Development Corporations), or Physical Planning (principles of planning the built environments - what makes a place walkable, principles of Transit Oriented Development, how to design lively places, public space design). Other schools divide it differently.

    The important thing to ask yourself is what KIND of planner you desire to be. Are you interested in the administrative level, being an analyst, facilitating work with communities, etc.? Whether you are mobilizing impoverished communities to be empowered to devise solutions to the problems they face, devising management plans for open space, or writing zoning to ensure pedestrian-oriented design, its all planning.

    I guess the common thread (supposedly) is promoting the "health, safety and welfare of the public." Something which can be achieved in many ways.

    If you can get these skills in your current line of study, go for it. If you want to acquire additional skills, you can change programs, or take some select courses and leave it at that.

    I also think going for AICP certification is a good idea. Its jumping through some hoops and perhaps espousing views you may not entirely agree with for the exam, but 1) your pay will be higher (potentially - see the recent report on the APA site about planning employment), 2) you will be better able to convince others that you know about planning (even if you don't have the degree), and 3) you know what the current standard line of thinking is on different topics. Even if you don't agree with the status quo, it is good to be able to articulate why and pose a different type of solution. IMHO...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Depends.....

    Do you want to be a "planner?" ....if yes, then you are a planner.....if not, then your something else.....it's that easy to decide
    Skilled Adoxographer

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    It's that easy? lol Yes, I want to be a planner! I'd like to try to effect some beneficial changes for the environment... and it seems that working at the local government level in PA is on eof the better ways to actually get this done. I enjoy working with citizen groups and getting them on their way towards projects, applying for grants, etc. There is the prospect coming up to do an adaptive reuse for a local elementary school and I'm jumping at that chance. Of course, there's educating the local officials on needed zoning and SALDO rewrites as well.... The subdivision plans I don't enjoy as much, except when I can point out a connection to a park or a site design element that I can grasp at this point.
    Thanks for all the info. My local mentor and planning guru is an awesome woman doing some great things for the environment, so I'm proud to be considered a planner also!

  6. #6
    You are a Planner!!! So if you want to call yourself a Planner - go right ahead. Planners have many different backgrounds and diverse job specifications. I think you fit right in. You are coordinating decisions, looking out for the public interest, and recognizing the consequences of certain actions and decisions. Good for you!

    [

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mawmaw5108's avatar
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    I would say you are a planner. There are all kinds of planners. You are asking if you are a planner. I am asking the same question but I am on the opposite way: Am I a planner or a designer? I have a master's degree in planning but most of the time I do design on AutuCAD or put my nose on drafting table smelling ink pens and markers. It would be difficult for me to take AICP in the future.... I think.
    Work hard, play hard.
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