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Thread: What do you enjoy most about planning?

  1. #1
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    What do you enjoy most about planning?

    I'm entering grad school for planning in the fall, and I have a question for all of you out there in the field: What are the moments/achievements/perks/etc. that make you happy that you chose this career? I know that as a student I run the risk of being too optimistic and idealistic about what I'll be doing in the future, but I need to know that there are times when you say to yourself, "Damn, I'm glad to be a planner." Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I'm a nerd, I suppose, but I really, really enjoy the code creation process, whether it's amending current ordinances, going through the whole RFP process for outside assistance, or in-house code creation. Zoning, subdivision, historic preservation, design guidelines, various building codes, process/charter amendments, etc. Yeah. Code review and code creation. Kick ace. Especially the first time you see something in it implemented.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Policy making, code generation, and (yes I am a geek) I love delving into numbers on various phenomenon concerning population change and growth. Planning is a rewarding career that provides you with a decent income, incredible opportunities (top 25 future career for job prospects for the 2nd year in a row in the US News and World Report survey), influence, and it is one of the few careers that no one at a cocktail party will ever understand what you do!
    Satellite City Enabler

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    good question

    being in local government planning, my favorite thing about it is that I feel like I am part of the heart and soul of democracy - property rights are one of the primary tenets of what this country was founded upon so even though I may be pond scum in the food chain of life, what I do is not - it's nice to be part of something bigger than me but yet I am the mover of it all at the same time

  5. #5
    Building consensus among disparate groups with multiple agendas (sometimes hidden agendas).

    Construction didn't used to float my boat, but our Greenway is so transformative and high quality, I'm pretty proud of the role I've played in helping bring it about.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Despite the negatives that get brought up so often about the profession....it's the people in the community that truly appreciate that we assist in making the community a better place to live and work that keep me going. Thankfully, there are enough of those type of people around to keep me from getting burned out.
    "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

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Being able to shape and foster our community and be an integral part of its future. It allows for good ideas to surface from many differnt angles/points of view and giving an idea of what could be built or preserved.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    When you can actually convince people to step away from the status-quo, and maybe start to address some things differently in their ordinances, especially when it deals with environmentally protection.

    And, little things feel good, like explaining to somebody what they need to do if they want to run a beauty salon out of their home, and if it actually gets approved they are so grateful to you for helping them make their dreams come true. Some dreams are a bit cooler than others. One woman had a dream to run an Equine Assisted Therapy center from her farm. We helped her through the Special Use Permit process she needed, and it was a very fulfulling experience. Looks like her endeavor is going strong... Horse of Teneker

  9. #9
    Cyburbian D/M's avatar
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    This is the reason that I'm so drawn to the profession. I like the idea of helping people come together to make their community their own. I grew up in an area where you almost never heard of public involvement in land use policy and if you did, it was mostly about how the city and large developers were going to do what they wanted to anyway, so why try? It was very marginalizing on the whole. It's just so refreshing when you see people's faces light up as if to say 'Wow, I can actually have some part in this!'
    It's the suede and denim secret police
    They've come for your uncool niece!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I like working with small business and help them in the community.

    Also, I like shaping the future so to speak from a design perspective. While I am young and have yet to see some of my work be established, I am excite for the future.

    And helping the Humane Society annex land for a new facility made me feel good too.
    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

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    I like helping the "normal" people who aren't planners, developers, etc., but who are interested in their communities. I had an architect who was building a house for his wife and grandkids with a big pool out front under a shade tree (because the grandkids love shady pools)...they don't all have that much money, but to be a part of someone doing something nice for their family, whatever it is, is a good feeling.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    My joy is working on the private is being able to point out to friends and family projects i have helped design through subdivision layout, policies, land uses, etc. There is not a better feeling in the world when someone gives a compliment on a certain neighborhood, and then i can turn around and say "i helped design that."
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    The opportunity to provoke stakeholders into seriously questioning planning assumptions and rocking the boat enough to get bureaucrats and politicians thinking differently. I love the participatory parts of the process...if they're done the right way.

  14. #14
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    Thank you everyone for your insightful replies. I'm really looking forward to being in a position to positively impact the lives of average folks through design and policy... maybe I'll even develop an unexpected love of code-writing!

  15. #15
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    We're in the process of updating our comprehensive plan. The result will have far-reaching impacts on how this county will look in the future. It's an exciting time here.


    Oh, and all the money and babes.
    I think that one of the great signs of security is the ability to just walk away.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I must have missed them memo on the babes part. Unless you count APA conference social gatherings where all inhibitions are lost after a few drinks.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    what is the most "rewarding" aspect of your job

    Besides the fact that I have always been interested in land, land development, urban policies and maps; I got into planning to try to help people and make a difference(generic overall goal).

    And yet I sometimes feel like us "Planners" are more of the land development/ property rights tyrants then the urban and environmental saviors. When we do get to make a recommendation we think could help the community, environment, or economy it is often changed or rejected by elected officials.

    Although constant frustration I still find it "rewarding" on some aspects but not as much as I pictured I would as a student.

    Do you find your job rewarding? Or is it just the Paycheck and Free Coffee & Doughnuts that has you coming back day after day..?

  18. #18
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    free coffee?....where?...

    I just think the overall work of public service is why I stay doing this - and yeah, the regulatory part of it can wear on you but the connections with the people make it worth it

    but I may negotiate for free coffee...

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    job

    After reviewing a particularly ugly subdivision plan I told the developer "My greatest job satisfaction comes from stopping plans like this from happening." (My name scratched off one more Christmas list.)
    WALSTIB

  20. #20
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Good question.
    I enjoy most is making a positive impact on the community visually, culturally and environmentally. I like the graphic end of my job most.

    But... when I grow up...I would rather do something else, but this pays the bills.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Back when I was actually doing planning, I really enjoyed going out with other planners, drinking a lot of beer, and complaining about how the politicians screwed up everything we tried to do. Now I do the same thing but except that I complain about how planners and politicians have screwed up everything.

    Actually the most enjoyable thing about planning for me now is going back to my first community and seeing that many of the parks and programs that I proposed in the county's first recreation and open space plan have actually been implemented.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    I have a great deal of freedom. It is a beautiful morning and instead of shipping our historic walking tour maps to the State welcome center about 15 miles up river, I drove them out there myself, then got out and checked out the street scape work in a small town, took a few pictures, watched the eagles start to make their way back north.

    Back in the office, crank the XM a little bit, and get caught up on paperwork.

    Maybe do a little RJ this afternoon. . . .

  23. #23
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Building consensus among disparate groups with multiple agendas (sometimes hidden agendas).
    That's probably the closest to what I enjoy most. Getting people that otherwise wouldn't talk to each other to work together toward a common goal. I love it when you see a group like this have an "aha" moment when they realize they really aren't so different. I'm sure Gedunker will agree that there are few things more satisfying than getting groups to be honest with one another and revealing those hidden agendas.

    I love knowing that my efforts will affect the quality of life of each community I work in for years to come. I guess its the principle of leaving a place better than you found it. Even if its something small, like helping a future small business owner navigate through the required permits in the City, or helping to develop a small pocket park in a neighborhood. It may not seem like a big deal to a planner when you do it, but that small business owner or neighborhood group will appreciate you for years to come for your help.

    I also really, really love planning-related analysis, whether that's demographics, policy assessment/development or land analysis. I'm kind of a numbers guy.

    "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)

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    What is this 'planning' you speak of?
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  25. #25
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    When working with clients there is a moment where they just get it. They understand what policy changes need to be created or implemented for them to begin working towards their ideal community. Before that moment, there is there is a confusion that fills the room but that is ignited into an enthusiasm. Suddenly they are excited about the possibilities of what could be.

    There is also the design aspect of it. If I had not been an planner, I would have wanted to be an architect. I don’t get to do as much design right now as I would like, but I hope that will change in the next few years.

    Finally, there is the review. Looking back after a few years on a project can be very rewarding or very educational depending on the success of the project. I was able to look back on a project from my first job, and while the City has not change, the neighborhood that I worked with now is vibrant, interactive, and is thriving.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

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