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Thread: Is planning a 'sociable' profession

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Is planning a 'sociable' profession

    I know this may sound like an odd, and some might think stupid question,
    but do you all feel that the profession provides opportunities for planners to interact with one another , and other professionals or citizens, on both an official and social level?

    The reason I ask is b/c I have been in a field where I have essentially been locked in an office or cubicle to work on things for weeks and even months at a time, only to come up for air from time to time to interact on a very dry level with others for official, as opposed to social reasons.


    In relative terms, does planning provide opportunities to mingle more with interesting colleagues...beyond cyberspace of course. Do you actually have planning friends, or at least friends that you have met through your work in planning, that you enjoy hanging out with, perhaps even outside of the confines of work? What areas or aspect of planning afford such opportunities to meet and interact with interesting people? Thanks!

    As a follow up, what have your experiences been in terms of social interaction and what area do you work in? What areas, endeavours, jobs etc might one avoid in order to avoid becoming socially isolated? Thanks again!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    It all depends on the demographics of your office. My office is tiny, with just myself, my boss (the director), and the clerk. We aren't that collegial here - the three of us just do our own thing for lunch and we don't hang out outside of the office. I do have colleagues that work for larger departments in other communities that go out for lunches together, happy hours after work, etc. You need an office with a critical mass of people without kids in order for this to happen. I do have at least one colleague from another community that I met through work that has become a good friend of mine, because we were both transplants who grew up in the same area and work in similar communities.

    Hanging out with citizens and board members generally does not ever happen as that would be unwise for professional planning staff. You may find that you don't want to even live in the community that you plan for do to the intrusions it can cause into your personal life. I experienced this first hand and now live in another community.

    If this is something you prioritize, you'll be happier in a larger department. Then again, you'll need to take whatever you can get in this economy.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    I agree. There's nothing inherently social or anti-social (no pun intended) about planners or planning. I think I get what you're saying about being "locked away" and I don't think that's typical for planners. Interaction - at least professionally - is part of the gig. I've worked in offices where I had nothing to do with anybody outside work, and worked in offices where I still keep up with some co-workers. I also worked in two other very "social" professions and maintain no friendships or contacts from those jobs.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
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    In my office it is very socialable, very nice climate to work in.
    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)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I haven't found municipal Planning to be very sociable but I've never worked in a large department. I've interviewed with private firms which seemed to have lots of younger people and seemed more social.

  6. #6
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    In my office we go to lunch once a month, and we are very sociable. I think that the profession in general are more of people person's than other professions. We deal with the community on a regular basis, whether that is good or bad social interactions....

    It really depends on the dynamics of your office though as to how much or how little time you spend outside of your office.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Stop socializing on here and GET BACK TO #$%^& WORK!!!!
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  8. #8
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    I'm not sure if you watch Community, but the Planner is kind of the cool guy of the bunch...a ladies man. The main character is always try to fit into the Planner crowd when they have beers after work...amusing

    I think it really depends on the age of the folks...but I have noticed at several places that I've work that there are quite a few socially awkward Planners...the ones that aren't move up to manager a lot quicker.
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    when i worked in Massachusetts, I was very active in the planner chapter groups and 2 of my very best friends are planners as a result - one of them I used to work for!

    and i have made some pretty awesome cyber-friends from here too

    given my husband is a landscape architect, many of our friends are related to our respective work, except for neighbor friends or friends from church

    so like with most things, it's as social as you make it

  10. #10
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Food for thought....

    Planners are mostly sociable, but 90% are also geeks and/or nerds* that some of us want to keep an arms distance from.




    *Present company excepted, of course.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  11. #11
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well...

    Not only do I live in the desert, this part of the world is a social desert too
    Skilled Adoxographer

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus
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    The Stanfest and Laefast are good examples of how socialable some planners have been.
    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)

  13. #13
    It will depend on your work environment. It could vary entirely upon the size of your agency or company and the particular type of planning you are doing. There is nothing about planning itself, however, that is inherently "sociable" or "non-sociable."

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Planners are mostly sociable, but 90% are also geeks and/or nerds* that some of us want to keep an arms distance from.


    I couldn't agree more with this. I've been a planner for over 30 years out in the west and it never ceases to amaze me how the urban planning industry attracts so many geeks and nerds, including myself. I've never been able to pin down exactly what the cause is so if you have an opinion I would be interested if you would share it.

    The principal reason I attend various professional conferences is to see friends and socialize. However, due to the geeks and nerds factors, I have never found conferences to be very "social". I've been to conferences in other organizations such as ULI, NAHB and Pacific Coast Builders Conference and they are very social with a lot of meetings and dinners that are purely social in nature. I have a group of long time professional friends that I usually socialize with at conferences and we often find that we are some of the only planners who venture out into the restaurants and events that usual surround most conferences.

    By the way, if you want to see an even more geek and nerd group, not counting the civil engineers of course, attend a few ASLA events. Planners are party animals compared to the landscape architects.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    So true.....

    Quote Originally posted by smccutchan1 View post
    [I][I]

    By the way, if you want to see an even more geek and nerd group, not counting the civil engineers of course, attend a few ASLA events. Planners are party animals compared to the landscape architects.
    That's because most of their best friends are PLANTS
    Skilled Adoxographer

  16. #16
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    My first job was in a small private firm. The only socialization was via forced company holiday lunches, etc. It was miserable - as I am a social person by nature. Then, I went and worked for a large county planning dept. and it was like joining a (co-ed) fraternity – we all went to lunch together almost every day, hung out at night, went to community events (minor league baseball games, etc.), everyone even had nicknames. It was the most fun and social environment I have ever experienced. I then left for academia, were I am today. Most people here tend to be social folk. Later, at one point though I ended up back at another small private firm part-time, and we hosted all kinds of social events for the planning community in the region. It was a nice group. I have simply concluded that the first firm I worked for was simply a terrible, terrible environment. Being my first job in the field, it almost made me quite planning. Luckily instead, I just found a different planning job. A few months after I left the first, there was apparently a huge fight between the owners – the firm no longer exists. Everyone is better off for that.

    As a side note, I joined Cyburbia while working at the first firm. This was my only saving grace for socializing with other planners. So thank you (more than you know!).

    FREE ADVICE: If you don’t enjoy were you work – get out while you can – for your health!
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  17. #17
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    At the county job I'm at now, they really focused on hiring someone with the right personality because they wanted to maintain a "family" type feel in the office...especially since it's so small. They eliminated arrogant or timid candidates. It makes a huge difference in your quality of life when you actually like the people you depend on. Most people in my office have been here for 1yr or less...so we're all learning...even those who've been planners for 20+ years.
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

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