A Planner's Prayer

Michael Lewyn's picture
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A PLANNER'S PRAYER

Next week, Jews around the world (including myself) will spend the day in synagogue for Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.  On that day, we will pray for forgiveness for our sins.  One Yom Kippur prayer, the Al Chet (Hebrew for "for the sin") lists a variety of sins, requesting Divine forgiveness for each. (One English translation can be found at www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/6577/jewish/Text-... )

It occurred to me this week that given the problems of America's built environment, those of us involved in some way with planning may need our own special Al Chet, specifying sins most likely to be committed by planners, zoning lawyers, transportation engineers, and others involved in regulating our built environment - regardless of their religion.  So here's a few prayers to get started:

For the sins we have committed through overdevelopment;
And for the sins we have committed by failing to develop;

For the sins we have committed under duress from politicians and neighborhoods;
And for the sins we have committed through stubbornness;

For the sins we have committed by ignoring the middle class;
And for the sins we have committed by ignoring the poor;

For the sins we have committed through exclusion;
And for the sins we have committed in the name of diversity;

For the sins we have committed with roads;
And for the sins we have committed with buses and trains;

For the sins we have committed by turning our cities into wastelands filled with parking lots;
And for the sins we have committed by pretending cars don't exist;

For the sins we have committed by segregating compatible land uses;
And for the sins we have committed by mixing incompatible uses;

For the sins we have committed that made housing expensive;
And for the sins we have committed that caused imploding housing values;

For the sins we have committed through regulation;
And for the sins we have committed through deregulation;

For the sins we have committed through disrespect for the environment;
And for the sins we have committed through environmentalist hysteria;

For the sins we have committed through overspending;
And for the sins we have committed through penny-pinching;

For the sins we have committed from the Left;
And for the sins we have committed from the Right;

For the sins we have committed to become popular;
And for the sins for which we incur the hatred of the majority;

For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

(PS Feel free to add additional verses in your own prayers!)
Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.

Comments

Comments

The Planner's Prayer

God Almighty, hear my plea.
Guide me in planning a better city:

a city where open spaces abound,
and many a farmer's market are found;

where water, and air, and soil are clean;
where people drive less and walk to stay lean;

where mass transit journeys are fast,
and infrastructure is built to last;

where our citizens all have health,
and our local businesses, wealth;

where food is locally grown,
and all can afford a home.

When our governments sit on the fence,
God bless them with common sense.

Please work through my voice, and arms, and hands,
to preserve and protect our natural lands.

Guide me through public consultations;
help me to answer to local frustrations.

God bless me, a planner, in every way,
to bring about positive change today.

Myron Belej
www.cityplanner.ca

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