Planners Must Speak for the Disadvantaged
Dwight Merriam, a Connecticut land use attorney and planner and former president of the American Institute of Certified Planners, in a lecture at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ, emphasized that both social equity and the welfare of future generations must be at the core of planning practice.
The planner's clients, Merriam said, "are the poor, they are the disenfranchised, they are people who live far away but wish to be our neighbors, they are the old, they are the young, they are the people working two and three jobs who have no time to go to public hearings or run a blog, they are the people who need our help in processing and applying complex information, they are the generations not yet born, they are the people who will live on this earth 50 years and 100 years and 200 years and 500 years from now."
"When you save a sole-source aquifer," Merriam maintained, "when you preserve a critical habitat, when you make it possible for dense mixed-use development along public transit corridors that gets people out of their cars . . . and when you plan and regulate in a way that keeps our foundry worker's family from being destroyed and makes it possible for children [from low-income families] to live where they want to live and to get the education they so desperately seek and deserve, then, I say to you, you have begun to do your job as a planner."
The lecture is available as both a PDF and a podcast.
Thanks to Stuart Meck, FAICP/PP