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Questions on "Advocacy Planning"


What is, if any, the role of "advocacy" planning in the "greater scheme of things"?

Isn't it the implicit duty for planners to initiate the adoption of sound planning practices where none exist? Isn't it unreasonable to exclude planners from doing so (or at least, frown upon planners that do) when they, being trained in the field, being uniquely qualified to fill the role as concerned citizen initiating action?



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GeekyBoy said:
What is, if any, the role of "advocacy" planning in the "greater scheme of things"?

You should read about the work of Norman Krumholz in Cleveland. Amazing stuff, an amazing man!

An Advocacy Plannner takes on issues or fights for a disenfranchised group. Sometimes grants are available to hire folks at non-profits to take on this role. At the Southwest Detroit Business Association, they have an Advocacy Planner on staff, however, I think officially her title is Community Planner. She works to fight against the proposed expansion of an intermodal frieght terminal, right in the middle of the part of Detroit that actually saw a population growth from 1990 to 2000. Go to http://www.southwestdetroit.com/community/ for more information, look at the "Junction Yard Redevelopment" section and follow the "Communities for a Better Rail Alternative" link.


How far can a planner, working for a municipality, go in advocating for disenfranchised groups?

From my perspective, I answer to my employer. They decide whether I get a paycheck or not.

I can point out problems with the way things are being done.

I can write up proposals on how to make things better.

But if I go out into the streets and try to generate a groundswell of public support for my ideas, I've crossed the line.

To me, the public needs to set the agenda for its political leaders. The problem is that the public often fails to do this.

The planner's job is to anticipate the needs of the community and to encourage the political leadership to proactively address those needs. Promoting sound planning isn't implicitly our job, it is the whole and entire point of our job. We have to "take the horse to water" whenever we can, but it is the elected political leaders who have to decide whether the community will embrace the ideas we put forward or not.