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Thread: Required reading for those considering a career in planning

  1. #1
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    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
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    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
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    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 ...
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  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
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    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.

    .02

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