It's a unique time to be joining the staff of Planetizen as managing editor. The world seems to be awakening for the first time to all of the issues we deal with everyday, whether we work in urban and regional planning, environmental preservation, architecture and placemaking, landscape architecture or transportation. Suddenly, everyone understands that these niches are, in fact, interconnected, and that "place" as a general concept affects everything we do. Unfortunately, it took $4.85 gasoline and a mortgage crisis that is sinking our economy, but at least people are thinking!
My interest in these issues developed along a circuitous route. I began in broadcasting and public radio, wound through years in media production, and finally took a left turn into planning through a timely read of Home from Nowhere
. I received my masters in Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P. -- could there be an uglier acronym?) from San José State, then spent some time in the trenches with Reconnecting America explaining TOD to the world. I've been lucky enough to work with some very talented individuals working in the field like Peter Calthorpe
, Rex Burkholder
, James Corless
, Dena Belzer, Laura Hall,
and many others.
One thing I've learned about the world of planning is that while we're all generalists, everyone's holding on to their own particularly fascinating piece of the puzzle. Jeff Wood
, for instance, is the only person I know who really, truly understands when an aerial tram is the right solution for a city's transportation needs. Pat Flynn
, an amazing real estate consultant in LA, explained to me the issues of on-street retail in the clearest way I've ever heard. And I'll never forget reading Jan Gehl
's observation that people prefer small, square tables to large, round ones.
That's why Planetizen is such a great resource, and an exciting place to be. Eight years ago, Chris Steins and Abhijeet Chavan created a space that was more than just a listserv -- it's a hub for a community, and a resource to spark ideas. When you dig deeper into the layers of our site, there's a ton of great information, opinion and a record of our changing world. Where else could you chew on Samuel Staley's contrarian views on public transit
, read about innovative funding for small groceries to guarantee fresh produce to poor communities
, and learn how GIS is solving crimes
Hats off to outgoing editor Christian Peralta. His two years here were clearly well-spent, and everyone I meet in the Planetizen orbit has good things to say about him. Christian is going back to school to get his masters in public policy. We wish him well, and I humbly request that he stay within email's reach 24/7. At least for now. Maybe a couple of years. Luckily, our capable assistant editor Nate Berg is here holding down the fort.
In the next couple of months, we're going to launch a redesign of the site, bringing a little more visual interest and multimedia to the site without tinkering with the great framework of usability that has always been a Planetizen hallmark. Along with the redesign, we're setting a new goal of bringing you more original content. In particular, we want to feature YOU. We want to tell your story on Planetizen, and get your secret knowledge heard. So don't be a stranger, let us know what you're up to.
And really, hats off to all of you for paying attention and plugging away at the issues that matter most.