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Planners: please help us

Earl Finkler

Cyburbian
Messages
190
Points
7
Being planners, we have a strong tradition of public service. In this message, I want to broaden our concerns just a bit because I am truly concerned about our country.

The campaign for president and the goings on in Florida do not give me a lot of confidence. This country seems to be polarized right down the middle, and despite high tech communications media, many serious matters do not get discussed, and hard information is often lacking.

I've been thinking about this a lot the last few years and I'm worried that we may have lost our way in the 1960s, with the killings of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

I know none of them were saints and all had weaknesses.

but to me, these three had the best interest of the country and ALL of its people at heart. And they urged us not to just accumulate wealth, but to perform public service, ie in the Peace Corps, etc., and to develop ideals and follow those ideals no matter what the cost.

Now we have growing problems from global warming to continued poverty. Health concerns grow rapidly. And our population in aging. Also, the Third World wants a higher standard of living as well, not just dead-end low paying jobs, or less.

What can we in planning do? We do a great job technically keeping our cities and towns going, despite budget cuts. I'm sure if we speak more often from idealism and global concerns, we might not fare too well in employment.

As others on this message board can attest, getting and keeping a job today is often difficult.

But perhaps we can each consider various ways to help others and be aware of the needs of the poor, the hungry and the abused.

thanks for listening.

Earl Finkler
 

John Yoegel

Cyburbian
Messages
28
Points
2
Earl:

You never have to thank us for listening to you. Its always our pleasure.
As a fellow child of the 60's I share your concerns but hope that it may be the lengthening nights up there that are adding to your gloom, and that things will start to look brighter after the Winter Solstice.

The Florida Vote Mambo actually has confirmed for me the fact that our system of reason and laws does work. If this were some third world backwater, the army would have been in the streets weeks ago, led my some general would be dictator with an undersized mustache.

As far as the increasing polarity in our politics, as I think I've said before in this forum, I see fewer people really caring or feeling affected by the outcomes of our elections. (A bad thing). And the few people who do care including the politicians themselves seem to be getting less and less civil in their treatment of the each other. (Also a bad thing). Unfortunately the issues get lost in all the yelling.

As to the impact planners can have, I agree that we seem to lose most of our first amendment rights the minute we join a governmental planning department or a consulting firm. On the other hand I think planners have been there with the technical expertise to respond when a problem/disaster is recognized and the political will is brought to bear to deal with it. Unfortunately the Titanic had to sink before we made sure that all passenger liners had enough life boats. The last thirty years of planning, particularly with respect to environmental issues has been a series of responses to recognition of problems rather than avoiding them in the first place.

When I tell my family to pack a plastic garbage bag for the dirty laundry when we go on vacation they still look at me somewhat strangely. I simply shrug and usually say, "I'm a planner". It may be our peculiar fate as planners to be voices crying in the wilderness of the majority of folks who live their life a day at time, and for whom planning only extends as far as where to go to dinner Saturday night.

As to action, I think your last sentence and your use of the word "each" says it all. Ultimately its only what we can do as individuals. It may be to plant some extra trees on our own property, help out at a soup kitchen, mentor an inner city child, organize a local food bank, or wage a little guerilla warfare at our jobs, gradually getting our ideas across.

And I've already resolved that when I move on to whatever awaits us on the other side I will leave a list of things undone, probably including mowing the lawn that week. But I hope I will have done what I could while I was here. Others will pick up the ball (and mow the lawn)and we will make progress, slowly.

If anything I think our legacy as planners should be to impart the idea of that "peculiar fate" and sense of responsibility to the planners who follow us. From what I've seen so far among my younger colleagues, they know and understand.

With best wishes to you and all our friends in Perry's Cantina for a blessed and Happy Holiday Season and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

John
 

Earl Finkler

Cyburbian
Messages
190
Points
7
A very thoughtful and perceptive response John. Thank you.
And yes, Happy Holidays to Perry and his family and all those who read and contribute to this message board.

It is so nice to have a message board which is dominated by the voice of reason, even though we have different views on many issues I am sure. That is what is great about being a planner. Again, thanks. Even though we do not have the sun with us until late January, reading your message brightened my day, and I'm sure that of some others./

Earl
 

Perry Norton

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
89
Points
4
To Earl and John and Dan and all the good folks who come here with regularity to share thoughts and opinions, I send my greetings and best wishes. We have different opinions, but one thing binds us - we seek a better world.

There is another thing; we all think of that better world with a long-range perspective. And this may be the most important of all.
 

Jeffrey Scott

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Sorry to say that my own opinion is a re-inforcement of Earl's orginal and pessimistic comment. It is hard to look at today's crop of "leaders" and not be nostalgic for the days when we had governors like Tom McCall and senators like Bill Proxmire. I even miss the guys I didn't like at the time--Richard Nixon signed NEPA and appointed a damned good man to run the EPA. So what happened?

I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with money. You can't even run for the state legislature in most states without selling your soul to the money people. I think this has a lot to do with the apathy that many voters now feel. I started out thinking fairly well of Al Gore, but by the time he made all of the compromises that he had to make to be a viable candidate, I pretty much lost my enthusiasm.

Of course, sometimes people do grow into the office. Harry Truman started out as a small-time pol in a crooked Kansas City machine, but ended up as an effective leader. Think there's any chance that W. will suddenly acquire intelligence and foresight?
 
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