Let's Just Call Ourselves City Planners

We seem to be reluctant to identify our profession in clear, recognizable language, writes Eugenie Birch, FAICP, chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania.
September 4, 2006, 7am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"Outside observers give us a name: "city planners" or "urban planners." But we simply call ourselves "planners," thinking that everyone knows what this label means. But they don't. We have to stop to explain. A typical conversation goes this way:

"What do you do?"

"I am a planner."

"What do you plan? Parties? Corporate strategies?"

Finally, with a straightforward reply of "city planner" or "urban planner," we get a nod of recognition and a battery of questions. "So what do you think is the best planned city in the world?" "What is going on with eminent domain?" "Can't you do something about all this traffic?"

Why the reluctance to say who we are? Are we afraid of the questions that will follow? Is it that we don't want to exclude anyone? That's a worthy goal, but it does not help us to establish ourselves as a profession with a long tradition. We have all the requirements of a profession (expertise and the means to transfer it, a code of ethics, an interest in the public good). What we don't have is instant name recognition..."

[Editor's note: The full text of this article is available only to APA members.]

Thanks to Julie McWilliams

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Published on Friday, September 15, 2006 in Planning Magazine
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