Urban planning community

Poll results: Do we do enough public relations as a profession?

Voters
11. You may not vote on this poll
  • I'm spreading the gospel of planning every chance I get.

    4 36.36%
  • I should do more, but I'm more active than most.

    5 45.45%
  • Not my problem. Who cares what the public thinks.

    1 9.09%
  • I think we should operate in the background of public life.

    0 0%
  • I fear public contact.

    1 9.09%
  • None of the above.

    0 0%
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Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Proselytizing

  1. #1
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
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    Proselytizing

    How many of you make a concerted effort to get out among the masses and spread the gospel of planning? Do you go to the local Lions/Optimists/Rotary/Booster… Club meeting and give presentations about your chosen profession? Do you write columns for the local newspaper? Do you jump at a chance to comment for the local television or radio reporter?

    My observation is, that as a profession, we generally tend to hide. As one Midwestern planner once told me; “nothing good can come of their (the public) knowing we exist.”

    Well, what is your observation? I’m too busy is not an acceptable answer.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,954
    I'm too busy.

  3. #3
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Middle of a Dusty Street
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    6,379

    Don't ask an easy question, do ya?

    What a difficult question you pose, Jefe... And, to answer, I'll toss in a few factors that really have a bearing on how I would answer the question.

    1) Do the people above you want you to be in the public eye?

    While in Arkansas, I was on the militia's most hated list. You cannot... ever... convince some people that you are doing good and legal things for the public at large. Many of the "property rights" people simply have it wrong, and trying to explain is futile at best, and dangerous in the extreme. I once answered some questions on a talk radio program... and all the callers told me they wished me dead. My boss didn't like it, and the head of the county didn't like it. Nor did they appreciate a certain letter to the editor I wrote. So, that is a consideration.

    2) Will being vocal help or hurt your cause?

    Your planner in the midwest might be right... In some areas, being wide open just causes more naysayers, and makes the job more difficult. I'm on my way to Oregon, and hope that "the public" will be so very different, their input will assist me in my job, and not be a hindrance.

    3) Can you educate about planning without the "devil in the details" pitchforking you in the butt?

    Writing a column might be easy, speaking to a group might as well... but what about a Q&A session? If these are all people of the community, they will tend to ask pointed questions on not only your opinion on specific projects, but your intentions! You just might rouse a rabble against you. Remember, they will know where to find you.

    4) Are you fighting a battle that can't be won?

    I'm happy to educate those who wish to be educated. Many will listen, and envision you with a hammer and sicle hanging behind you. I suppose I'm a bit jaded, but that'd be my answer...

    Educate the students, but not the masses.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935

    GET OUT THERE!

    As the Department Director, I speak at tthe Mayor's side every year for our Chamber of Commerce "State of the City" Luncheon. I do other speaking engagements as requested, but avoid the Rotary and Lions memberships, as they tend to be "smokers clubs". We have a small business community, so I tend to rub elbows with the players even without those meetings.

    As a matter of policy (and a matter of performance evaluation!) my Assistant Director does outreach to grade schools and high schools alike. My GIS Coordinator does GIS Day sessions with the local 5th graders. My Conservation Coordinator does "Floating Classrooms" on our local lakes, with high schoolers, and does rotating conservation sessions with area grade schoolers. Some of our activities will fall on weekends too, but no one on staff has ever complained about it. All of my staff attend functions as requested to promote and educate about their niche in the planning field.

    You know what? We still have our detractors. But by-and-large my staff is known to the commmunity on a first name basis, actively promotes thier reason for being, and as a result can capably defend our department's actions.

  5. #5
    maudit anglais
    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Odd-a-wah
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    6,586
    I think in general, planning is more accepted north of the border - so I don't really have to worry about getting put on any 'hit lists'. Most employers up here would discourage any independent "spreading of the gospel" through the media. Media contact is handled most delicately - you can't just shoot off yer mouth when asked. Most of the time, any enquiries are referred to the level above. I stick to talking to friends/acquaintences, etc. Most people tend to always have something to say when they find out what I do...

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,596
    As part of my job as a municipal planner: Yes...I can definitely do more and should.

    As an officer of the state planners association (I was public information officer) I think I helped push planning into the spotlight a bit more (increased internet presence, press releases, awards programs, distribution of planning videos to public access cable stations).

    In general...we're not nearly as active as we should be. Mastiff has highlighted some of the reasons better than I could have (it seems especially that parts of the midwest and west can get you into real problems)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Oct 2001
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    Samsara
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    Mike - I know better

    Mike,
    Don't make me come out there!
    Your Amego,
    El Guapo

  8. #8
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,521
    I'm like Mike---to busy for that nonsense.

  9. #9

    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    somewhere cold
    Posts
    201
    I volunteer every summer at a popular summer fair for
    Box City, a sort of kids activity center that teached them planning and urban design skills and lets them share their vision of what a city should look like. I think that this is a popular program, and I have heard that it happend in other places.

    Not much, but that is all I do to 'get out there'.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,954
    We must get the word out. We must get feed back. Planning is all about the "public interest", and we don't have a clue of what that is without outreach. If your landscaping provisions are in jeopardy of repeal due to one complainer, it is time to do lunch with the garden clubs. You cannot ascertain all the truths of the public interest from your bosses or number-crunching survey statistics. Having a beer or coffee with the fire chief will tell you much more than all the survey data.

    I don't do as much as I should...there are so many meetings. But I am always willing to talk shop (until the person becomes irrational). One technique that works pretty well in my community is that I create a different citizen committee to review various code revisions. Not just the planning commissioners. For the most recent work on a housing code I got a mortgage broker, planning commissioner, rental housing owner, housing authority board member, a couple of contractors and a social services worker. It helps when you go before the governing body with that support, and you learn a few things along the way.

    Mastiff, I have been there too. After one public meeting on proposed county subdivision regulations, I was asked: 'what gov'mint program paid your highfalootin college edjucation to push this commie thing on us?' --you just memorize a few pat replys, leave gracefully, and back into his car on the way out.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
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    Samsara
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    5,075

    Order of Lenin

    Comrade Gurnee,
    You were a Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Scholar? Me too. Remember when Castro gave our orientation? I think he was drunk. Who would have though that we would have advanced the International Communist Conspiracy (ICC) so well with just land use planning. The people in codes enforcement deserve most of the credit. Their work with removing junk cars from the land of capitalist swine deserves much praise from the international brotherhood of workers. All in all, I think we can expect the UN troop occupations any day now. I hope we get Mongolian troops billeted in my home. They Bar-B-Que like nobody’s business!

    Your Brother in Planning
    Comrade El Guapo

    The photo is of my Grandfather and a college buddy at University of Kentucky, 1911.

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