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Why are you a "planner"?

Messages
7,649
Points
29
Speaking of my house in Manhattan, Kansas:

Owning that house was a life-changing event for me. I had never "succeeded" at any of the traditionally female hands-on kind of work that other relatives of mine do: I can't sew like my mom, I can't knit and crochet like my aunt, I can't quilt like my sister. I was generally always viewed as "all thumbs" and not good for anything "practical". Then I bought a fixer-upper. And I can re-do closets. I can paint. I can hang wallpaper. I can remove rotting fence posts. I can replace falling-off doorknobs. It turns out that while I can't sew, having grown up around a seamstress, I really enjoy re-upholstering furniture. A staple gun is more my style than a sewing machine but shopping for upholstery material is a sort of nostalgic experience. And I also turned out to be really good at the financing end of real estate as well. I finally discovered that while I am not a great "housekeeper", I am an awesome "Homemaker": I "build" them better than I clean them. :-D

So, when I was deciding What I Want To Be When I Grow Up, my decision to pursue a degree dealing with the built environment was rooted in my experiences owning that house, fixing it up, becoming a landlord, etc. If we hadn't owned that house, I might not be planning to get a degree in planning.

Why are you in this field?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Becasue I suck at math and couldn't be an architect. ;)


Seriously.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
ditto, Chet, in the early years. But I really like what I do, making better communities happen.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
25,810
Points
61
No simple answer, but just way things worked out through numorous twists and turns.

Chet Inspired -
Becasue I sucked at Plant Materials and couldn't be an Landscape Architect.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,491
Points
41
Why indeed

I was a mere 17 years old and got a letter from my college of choice asking me to declare a major. (43 year self old talking to 17-year old self: DON'T answer that question!!) After being honest with myself that my rather uninspiring grades in biology did not bode well toward a career in zoology, I checked "history" and set in motion what has been a 26-year oddysey.

The college was a screwy place on the verge of bankruptcy and I transferred after my freshman year. (It did, in fact go bankrupt between what would have been my sophomore and junior years.)

I thought I wanted to teach, but decided against it and ended up with a BA degree in history just as desktop computers were landing in offices around the country (before many of you were born, to be blunt) . Because I had a great geography professor, I managed to minor in that subject.

AHH, those days. It didn't matter what degree you had, employers just wanted to know if you could work these little magic boxes that they had spent all this cash for -- the birth of IT and I was there without knowing it ;-) . Alas, honestly, I said I was as bewildered as they were. And so I humped furniture for a national moving and storage company. Made a pile of money but worked my @$$ of to do it.

Believing there actually was a better way, I applied to grad schools (sweated the GRE) and earned an assistantship at Ball State where I completed my MSHP with a minor in Urban Planning. (Francis Parker, I thank you for your sound advice about a cognate in Urban Planning, sir. You are truly a Sagamore of the Wabash if ever there was one.)

This job came open as I was completing my thesis and I was encouraged to apply for it but I knew that if I took a job at that time, I probably would have difficulty finishing the thesis,so I passed. Turns out the guy they offered the job to took a job up east and they had to re-advertise. I was finished with the thesis by then so I applied and -- well the rest is history...

For the most part it has been a good experience. I didn't expect to fall in love and marry a local girl -- meet my mortgage and my heirs while I was here. I thought I would be "punching my ticket" and heading out to somewhere in the northwest. But the job is generalist, so I don't do the same thing day after day and I take great satisfaction in making this historic little city a pretty good place to raise a family.

I apologize for being a little wordy with this, but it is Friday and I'm a dad and the kids are being really good, Ms G is watching "Oh, Brother Wherefor Art Thou?" on cable, so .....
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I majored in Geography (yes, one of those 9 year old kids who guided the family around the US for 6 weeks with a AAA triptik and a suitcase full of Bobbsey Twins books) and got a job as a Water Resource Analyst with a water management district. From there, it was just a short step up to land use planner, moved to county government, and continued on.

I really think I have an aptitude for analysis and analytical writing, research, etc., and would love to have a land use/zoning job that just involved the research side. But, alas, I have Trail Nazi's ideal job (at least formerly), schmoozing (I am not a people person) and planning trails.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Zoning Goddess said:
I really think I have an aptitude for analysis and analytical writing, research, etc., and would love to have a land use/zoning job that just involved the research side. But, alas, I have Trail Nazi's ideal job (at least formerly), schmoozing (I am not a people person) and planning trails.
I am great at research but I think "schmoozing" is one of my many middle names. Now all I need...

er, anyway. I am trying to figure out how to package my background for a part-time schmoozing job I tripped across last night. I know I can do it. I just don't know if I can convince the contracting agency that I can. Can you see my resume: Homemaker who never leaves the house wants to schmooze. I think I iz good at it. Thank-ee. 8-! :-c
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
I became a planner because I grew up in Detroit in the '70s. I saw a city being deserted by its residents, and wanted to be in a profession that sought to improve cities.

True story. There was a Career Day when I was in the 7th grade in 1975. Until then, I wanted to be an architect or a roller coaster designer. An architect spoke to my class, and could not have made the profession look worse -- "lots of school with lots of math, low pay unless you are really good and sell out to clients,..." I thought then that there was no way I'd be an architect. Then, a planner from the City of Detroit spoke to us, and I finally heard from someone who was actually doing something to improve the city. I've pretty much wanted to be a planner ever since.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
In the days before planners were so plentiful, there was a job on the college job board for a planning draftsman. (Also before gender correctness turned that into a draftsperson or draftsbeing.) It paid more than the others, so I applied. "Do you know what a planning department does?" they asked. "Yes," I lied.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,313
Points
44
When I started college, I wanted to be a civil engineer but realized very quickly that I would never be able to pull it off with all the math requirements. At the same time, I was in a lower division class that involved environmental studies. It got me pointed in that direction and I majored in environmental studies and planning at a small public university in California where I got my degree.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
because I grew up in Hotlanta, saw what was happening to it and thought there had to be a better way to develop so I went back to school to get my planning learn on :)
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
I went into planning for all of the money and women. ;-)


I had always loved maps, cities and urbanism in general, but growing up in the country in one of the "red states" I had no idea that city planning was even an occupation. I went to college as an environmental geology major and an anthropology minor, but after taking a course in urban anthropology my sophmore year I immediately changed my major and decided that I was going to be a planner. Was that the right decision? Who knows... but I am enjoying myself.
 

AubieTurtle

Cyburbian
Messages
894
Points
21
H said:
because I grew up in Hotlanta, saw what was happening to it and thought there had to be a better way to develop so I went back to school to get my planning learn on :)
Seeing the insanity that is metro Atlanta, inspired me too... though I'm not a planner, I'm just one of those annoying people who comes to evening meetings and asks really tough questions and second guesses everything. You know, the guy most planners wish they could lock outside in the rain. ;)
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,491
Points
41
AubieTurtle said:
.... I'm just one of those annoying people who comes to evening meetings and asks really tough questions and second guesses everything. You know, the guy most planners wish they could lock outside in the rain. ;)
I don't know of a single planner that objects to honest and thoughtful citizen input -- even when it takes a position that runs contrary to that of the staff.

There are, however, those who attend meetings who debate for the sake of debate and add nothing to the discourse. And worse, those who are outright dishonest. I don't wish to see these last people locked out in the rain, but rather, I wish I could leave when I see them coming.
 
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7,649
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29
Gedunker said:
I don't know of a single planner that objects to honest and thoughtful citizen input -- even when it takes a position that runs contrary to that of the staff.

There are, however, those who attend meetings who debate for the sake of debate and add nothing to the discourse. And worse, those who are outright dishonest. I don't wish to see these last people locked out in the rain, but rather, I wish I could leave when I see them coming.
And then there are those who are simply Clueless, and it is really frustrating.

At one of the Smart Growth workshops I attended, there were a couple of really old ladies -- I am sure one was in her 70's -- talking about wanting to limit the ability of young women to have babies as part of their personal smart growth "plan" -- mostly, ETHNIC women, who were also likely to be poor (you know: those trashy Hispanic farm hands who have 4 kids -- god knows they aren't entitled to have any kind of life and should just limit themselves to working the fields for next to nothing and NEVER have sex: Only wealthy people are entitled to such pleasures). The people in charge had to politely inform them that "too many" births was not The Problem -- that birth rates were declining and had been for a long time. The Problem is that old people (like themselves) were rudely living longer.

People like that always make me want to say "Yeah, you could volunteer to solve our problem of overpopulation by kindly dropping dead." They already had all the kids they wanted and now THEY are causing overpopulation by continuing to draw breathe and, on top of that, they want to preserve their own quality of life by denying everyone younger than them the most basic human rights. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,918
Points
57
I got introduced to the MUP program at UM through the History Dept., which was my undergrad major.

It was an open house for the MUP program and I thoguht it was a good professional degree because it dealt with the built environment and creating places (not that I used these terms then :p) Plus, having a History BA with mediocre grades wasn't going to get me a job of naything worth.

I have always have been clued into the built environment and have always loved architecture, so this is a good place for me.

Now, I need to get get a little more experience, payoff school debts and start building my development company.
 

sisterceleste

Cyburbian
Messages
1,519
Points
22
Zoning Goddess said:
Uh...try to remember that TN said both of us scared her to death for a long time...
must have been the ability to say a$$hole without moving my lips that scared her.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,415
Points
34
My screen name pretty much speaks for why I became a planner. I've had the opportunity to live in a historic district in an old chemical plant town, a typical "suburb" and a house in the country. It was the suburb and country experience that made me become a planner. Living in a suburban neighborhood and then out in the country really influenced my path. I was absolutely miserable in the suburb neighborhood and got to watch suburbanization approach where we were living in the country, taking what was beautiful hill country land turning it into those suburban tract house neighborhoods that I hated so much. It wasn't the growth that bothered me; it was the form. I wanted to see neighborhoods more like the historic one I grew up in. I talked with one of my high school teachers and decided that urban planning was my opportunity to make a difference (yeah, I was a little naive at the time). My goal is to change the direction of development in central Texas, whether it be as a city planner helping officials formulate and emforce new regulations or as a developer leading by example. Whether that goal is achievable is a whole other story!
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
I kinda fell into it...If I was to start all over again.. I think I would be something in a much more creative arena. I do enjoy the tourism planning end I work in and making presentations etc, etc. I do get some creative outlet,, as I am allowed to do my own desktop publishing...despite having specific staff here that do it.

I like the job security... because left to my devices... I probably wouldn't be taking care of things like a retirement pension, etc. etc.....
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
I got into it because I got sick of everybody complaining about this city. Either your part of the problem or your part of the solution. Still who knows where I'll end up. I kind of want to start my own business.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,711
Points
71
Because Bill Clinton suggested I should.....Really.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
Like Chet....thought I'd be an architect, couldn't draw, sucked at building models.....was fortunate that Ball State's first year program exposed me to Planning and Landscape Architecture as well, declared Planning for my major and haven't looked back since.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
I grew up in a town that gave away too much for too little in return, didn't understand the value of it's resources, couldn't see potential where it was and still is completly mis-directed in trying to improve itself.

Yes, little town, keep looking for the manufacturing plant that will be your savior.
 
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5,352
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31
Because I really didn't want to go to law school after all and needed something to do to keep Sallie Mae off my back.

If I had the chance to do it all over again, I'm not sure if I'd still be in Planning. I certainly would have researched the grad schools and the profession in general a lot more before jumping into it.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I thought planning would be exciting and interesting. My current position is neither. I thought I would be doing all kinds of projects that utilized everything I learned in grad school, I am not. Basically all of the reasons that I wanted to become a planner have eluded me at my current position!

I thought I wanted to go to Law School, but i wasn't sure that my college grades were good enough and I didn't have the money. The more I thought about it, I decided I wanted a regular job where I wasn't working 60 plus hours a week, so I opted for Planning instead of Law.
 

Big Easy King

Cyburbian
Messages
1,361
Points
23
I wasn't satisfied with law school, so I jumped ship. At that point, I wanted a career that was more meaningful to quality of life, so the one thing that kept crossing my mind was the daily traffic nightmare that occurs in New Orleans. I started contemplating ways to improve traffic circulation, which led me on the road to planning...improving various aspects of quality of life.
 

Trail Nazi

Cyburbian
Messages
2,779
Points
24
sisterceleste said:
must have been the ability to say a$$hole without moving my lips that scared her.
You could say that was one of the reasons. I look up to you guys as planning and zoning goddesses, you hold great power over the masses and are all knowing.

Probably one of the real reasons why I chose planning was because I was tired of people moving to my state and ruining it. Plus, I hate it when people say "well back in whatever place is from up north (that they came from), we didn't do it this way and our way was so much better." I think it may been my desire to find a way to drive them back north.

Another reason is that I love the built environment and how it effects us.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
Chet said:
Becasue I suck at math and couldn't be an architect. ;) Seriously.
Ditto. If I had been good at math, I would have been a hydrologist. After returning to college after years away I tried several majors - education (cuz my parents said they would pay the freight if I studied that or law), history (yeah, try to find a job in that which doesn't involve the words "Welcome to Starbucks . . ." biology (required calculus), and finally geography (which is sort of like a science). Finally I found out that people with planning degrees could actually get jobs, so I studied that. So here I am.
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
I was a generalisrt from the beginning.
My father , my brother and me were quite exceptional when it came to quiz competitions and talkking on wide ranging subjects.Always winning contests( if not organising them) and awards.
I tried to become a Doctor but never studied hard to get through the entrance examinations.
But the day I gave the entrance exam to the Planning course in New Delhi I knew that this course was for me.
I got through and have been completely at home with the subjects and now the practice of Planning.

AFter the tough college years ( 6 years) and first few years of practice now that I am able to make a decent living out of it even though I practice in my hometown, some people are convinced that yes Planning is a profession.
But believe me its getting more and more exciting with me. The ups and downsa are there but its OK...
 

hindered

Member
Messages
22
Points
2
Another planner that 'fell into' the field here.

Went to school to be an engineer. Had the aptitude, but not the attitude. Found planning throug a required planning course my landscape architect sweetie had at the time I was spent in engineering. It had the right mix of 'do-goodness', technical aspects, humanities influences...it appealled to me because it had/valued everything that interested me and that engineering placed no value on. Best decision I ever made.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
I'm a Planner because it runs in my family. There was nothing else I could really think about doing. I knew what I was getting into, but at the same time, I looked forward to it. If I had to do it all over again I'd be in the same field. I cannot imagine not doing this, unless of course, I can be the next Martha Stewart (minus the breaking the law bit), then it'd be adios planning!
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
I tip-toed around the edges of planning and design for a while, until I fell in and got the degree. Now, I can't imagine doing anything else. But then I'm relatively new.... ;-)
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
I went to a university open day in my final year at school and found the School of Town Planning display in the Architecture Faculty (I had a faint interest in Architecture as I have a cousin who is an Architect). I always liked Geography, had a leaning towards humanities and liked being a bit different. Town Planning fitted.

I applied to do a BTP not yet committed as I was also interested in journalism. I missed out on a journalism cadetship with a respected newspaper I had been working for for 2 years (as a copy boy) so decided if they didn't want me I didn't want them. Had been accepted into the BTP course by then so I enrolled and apart from the first lecture (it was a welcome and introduction from the head of school - I didn't understand a word he said after 'Good Morning') haven't looked back. Town Planning has been very good to me and I'm thankful for stumbling upon it at that university open day.
 

plankton

Cyburbian
Messages
750
Points
21
I owe it all to that episode of Seinfeld where George (aka Art Van de Lay, architect extraordinaire) interviews kids to get a scholarship and his candidate says, "architect, architect,....why settle to be an architect when you can become a city planner and design entire cities, not just single buildings."

Good stuff, Maynard.
 

Dragon

Cyburbian
Messages
750
Points
21
Interestingly enough, I took an aptitude test when I started college, and planning was one of the jobs in the top 5. 8-!

I went into college with an undecided major. I excelled in History and Math (I went through Cal III because it was challenging), but decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life either searching for a job, or crunching numbers (something I do now anyway :p ). As part of my basic courses I had to take Geography. I liked it, so I decided I’d take a few more. I later changed my major to Geography, and left the AFROTC because high frequencey hearing damage kept me from flying jets and they couldn’t guarantee the other job choice |-) . I started to run out of geography courses, and still needed a few hours to graduate, so I took 2 planning courses. I liked it so much, that I changed my major again, and after 2 semesters of full time senior level classes, I graduated with a BA Planning, and a minor in Geography.
 

PlannerByDay

Cyburbian
Messages
1,827
Points
24
Because that is where the money is...RIGHT??

No seriously, I'm very outdoorsy and I wanted to work outdoors or in a field that would "protect the environment" so I studied Environmental Resource Management in college, this was in the Geography Dept. Some of my electives were planning classes. At the time I didn't know a whole lot about planning, I just needed some more credits, I found it very interesting and thought If I can do anything in Environmental Resource Management, I could work with communities to develop and implement policies that would help protect the environment.

I went into planning and now write among other things Land Use Plans, Watershed Management Plans, do site plan review and other projects the help preserve, protect or limit the amount of impact to our environment.
 

Floridays

Cyburbian
Messages
769
Points
21
I was elected to the city council, and at that time, we were updating our comp plan. (Keep in mind that I had a BA in Journalism!) A master's degree was something I wanted to pursue but I wasn't sure which field was for me. Anyway, during the comp planning process, I was "hooked." Decided I'd rather be on the other side of the podium, rather than being a policy decision maker. Have never regretted it...love my job!
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
Dragon said:
Interestingly enough, I took an aptitude test when I started college, and planning was one of the jobs in the top 5. 8-!
you reminded me of mine.. it was all, architect, urban planner, sociologist..geographer...you know.. people, art, sciencey type things.
 

vaughan

Cyburbian
Messages
335
Points
11
I got into planning initially because of a reaction to my past life...

I got my bachelor's degree in anthropology/archaeology a few years back and immediately hit the road doing fieldwork. Archaeology is a lot like construction in that there are piles upon piles of jobs, but they all last for two months or one month or six months. And then you move on. Lived out of the back of my truck for a couple of years and saw most of the country as part of what amounted to a pretty fun paid vacation, but then after a while I decided that maybe a girlfiend would be fun. Or hey, even an apartment...

I went back to school and did one year in a master's Anthropology program, but simply wasn't that happy. I knew I didn't want to be a prof, and the field life had gotten old quickly. So I started making midnight perusals of geography department homepages around the country (I'd always liked maps, environmental issues, etc...), started sneaking off to various environmental presentations around campus without telling my anthro buddies, and began quietly reading community-oriented literature, all the while thinking that maybe there was another way after all...

It was at this crucial time that I saw Luther Propst of the Sonoran Institute speak at my University. Don't know how many of you have seen that man speak, or even heard of him or the organization, but i walked out of that presentation saying "I want that man to be my Dad". It was incredible. I never even realized that people DID that kind of work. I asked around, realized that planning was the discipline that would probably open the most doors for me, went back to school for a master's, and here I am. Incredibly happy.

Planning, for me, is the complete opposite of that old life- rather than living in a manner that necessitates a "if the contract got pulled by the time I get back from lunch, I better be ready to hit the road and head to the next state" kind of attitude, planning is about as "place-base" as you can get...
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,447
Points
27
Becuase I wanted a job were I could slack all day on websites like Cyburbia. No seriously. I am a planner because of my interest in geography and maps. When I was small and frail 10 year old, I had stack of old National Geographic maps and would look at them for hours. I did not have NG for the pictures of the naked natives, however.
 
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