My graduate school education left me with a lot of general ideas and a handful of specific ones. One that stuck with me is a concept from landscape architecture: the desire path. Technically, the term means a path where there isn't supposed to be one, a trail of wear and tear that wasn't planned.
In his annual tour-de-force presentation on the state of Vancouver's housing market recently, marketing guru Bob Rennie (referred to often as Canada's "condo king", and thus often accused of having a vested interest in a continued strong market for condos here in Vancouver) had some new, controversial points that are still being debated locally. Perhaps the most provocative was his call to action for the development industry to get back into building housing that is more affordable to ordinary Vancouverites (as opposed to being geared to the international market - his comment was that we know how to serve that world market, now we need to show that we can serve the local market better, or words to that effect). Given that he included details like "capping developer profit at 10%", I found his comments pretty brave in front of an audience of 700+ developers and clients.
I believe it's very likely that within a few years, planning departments will be using blogs, and perhaps other social networking site options, as approaches to public input on planning policy or development applications.
Perhaps some are doing it already?
One of the many signs that green development and design is reaching a tipping point toward becoming business-as-usual, is the quantity of articles and writings on the subject in what might be considered "mainstream" land development publications. Case-in-point is the current Issue of Urban Land, the Green issue. This attention is a good thing, despite the growing need to ensure that developments that play the green card, truly do walk the talk.