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Thread: Required reading for those considering a career in planning

  1. #1
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
    Nov 2005
    New Hampshire Seacoast

    Required reading for those considering a career in planning

    For those considering the career of planning, I'd encourage a reading of the following link. This is a very frank article by one of the planning faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill. I find his description of the shift in the role of planners to be quite accurate.

    Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning - A Must Read for Those Considering Planning

    Mods: Maybe we should make a sticky of "useful readings for potential planners"? Just a thought. It really seems like interest in the industry's uncertainties is on the rise.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Aug 2005
    in a meeting
    I went to college with the author and he was my housemate in the late 80's

    i agree with Tom, but I think he has to understand the political landscape of local government too - Tom is truly brilliant, a great writer, and does great research but I always kidded him about never working a day in his life

    i do think the article is thought provoking and should be discussed in the profession - one of the comments picks at his arguments well, can't remember the name of the person that dissected his reasoning but that should be read as well...

  3. #3
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
    Jun 2005
    NYC area
    That IS a great piece and it needs to be read by everyone who works in this field. Wow.

  4. #4
    "One way was to disgorge itself of the muscular physical-interventionist focus that had long been planning’s métier. King Laius was thus slain by Oedipus, in love with "Mother Jacobs," as Mumford derisively called her. [5]"

    Practitioners talk like this all the time ...
    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

  5. #5
    Great article, and I agree with a lot of what it says. But I don't really agree that this can all be traced back to Jane Jacobs. That's a false interpretation of what she was doing.

    The big issue I have with the article though, is the rather lame conclusion. The conclusion advocates that planners need to have a "wide angle zoom lense" to stay relevant, but it's simply impossible: What do we expect ourselves to be both generalists AND specialists in, well, pretty much everything? To stay current on all fronts? to have expertise in virtually every area of planning? I'm sure there are plenty of out of work planners who are marketing themselves like that on Linked In, but it's simply not a realistic expectation.

    My opinion: The only way to survive in the long run is to be a specialist. Yes, you compartmentalize yourself from the mainstream of what was once the "planning profession." But the generalists, the last ones clinging to their municipal planning desks, become, essentially, clerks.

    So two choices: do you become a specialist, or do you become a clerk?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Jul 2009
    Colo Front Range
    tl, tj; dr.

    If that's required reading, IMHO, that'll keep a lot of people away from the profession. Comments more useful in my view.


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