The conference bags handed out to the attendees of the 2007 National Planning conference in Philadelphia had four words printed on one side: value, choice, engagement, community. The words echo the long mission statement of the American Planning Association, evidence of what I described last year as the pragmatic position of the profession that refrains from making a larger argument about the form of the city. Here's a taste:
"Our collaborative efforts will continue to result in great success for APA and the vital communities we strive to support, and APA members will continue to help create communities of lasting value. We value choice and community engagement, diversity, inclusion and social equity."
Since then, a new program from the organization and other evidence may suggest a subtle shift in professional values now underway.
We’ve all been subject to them – the endless powerpoint presentations that extol the worst aspects of animated text and mind-numbing bullet points. While Edward Tufte has written about the horrors of powerpoint, I see it as just a tool and like any tool it can be used wisely or poorly. After all, David Byrne, the former Talking Heads front man, makes art with powerpoint so it can’t be all bad. But one thing struck me at the American Planning Association’s (APA) conference two weeks ago: some sessions would have been much better if the powerpoint presentation (or abuse thereof) didn’t get in the way. In actuality, some of the best presentations I attended didn’t use powerpoint at all.
Green is everywhere these days – from Vanity Fair to the Wall Street Journal. The decades long debate about the validity of climate change appears to be over – as the discussion seems to be quickly shifting to either: a) how do we make it less dramatic, or b) how we prepare for the inevitable.