Exclusive: Urban Planning Reaches Out to "Dummies"
The release last month of the digital version of Urban Planning For Dummies, and its impending release in paperback next month, is a sure sign that planning is entering the mainstream consciousness. And for author Jordan Yin, currently a faculty member of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, the appearance of the book is a direct response to "rising consumer demand for planning."
Dr. Yin, who has worked throughout the Rust Belt in the areas of community development, affordable housing, and environmental conservation, approached the book with the hope of reaching out to a general audience who might be interested in the topic, and who "is at the door, and has maybe decided to ring the doorbell...we want to welcome them in."
According to Dr. Yin, a resulting challenge in writing the guide was to explain the often complex issues and terms that planners deal with "in words that are going to reach as many people as possible without making it so simplistic that it's no longer useful."
Fitting with the For Dummies "how-to" ethos, Dr. Yin intends the book to serve as both an introduction to the field and as a guide for those wanting to get involved in planning processes in their communities. In providing a broad based overview of the field and real-world examples, Dr. Yin's goal is to "deliver an understanding that is practical, that can be applied, and generates interest," with the intention of inspiring the novice reader that, "if you took every best practice in the book and applied it to your town, you would have the coolest city ever."
Efforts over the past several decades to open planning processes to increasing public participation have created an ensuing need for more informed participants, and Urban Planning for Dummies certainly helps to meet this need. For Dr. Yin, the overarching theme of the book is "'come join us' and 'you can do it.' And, on one hand that fits with the kind of book that it is, but it also fits with Planning."