Reason.tv has launched a multipart series of videos on how the city of Cleveland can turn itself around using free-market approaches and limited government reforms.
As planners, one of our roles is to help stretch the scope of what is considered possible. For example, between 1950 and 2000 most development was highly automobile-dependent, based on the assumption that almost all travel would be by personal automobile and other modes were relatively unimportant. This pattern is so well established that many people have difficulty imagining anything different. It is useful to help people understand the full range of options available, from automobile dependency to carfree communities.
It has been two months since I completed my first year of the Master of City Planning at MIT. Returning home to Baltimore, I felt exhausted from the rigors of the program, accomplished because of the mere fact that I completed a year of said program, and enlightened by the many class discussions, projects and experiences that I enjoyed – and not enjoyed – during the school year. I also returned to Baltimore excited about the project that I would work on as a Mayoral Fellow in the Department of Transportation.
On a recent business trip to Australia, I had the opportunity to visit with an interesting group of social planners called The Hornery Institute. Specifically, their charter is “to assist communities in becoming better places to live, learn, work and play.” The Hornery Institute was established in November 2000, in recognition of Lend Lease’s Chairman, Stuart Hornery and his commitment to community and people. To mark his retirement, the shareholders and employees of this great company formed a not-for-profit organization that allowed Hornery and his dedicated, hand-picked staff to continue working on independent projects to make communities more fulfilling.
I am enjoying the last day of my Independent Activities Period (IAP) – the period after winter break in which all students at MIT can take one of many non-credit or for-credit course offerings at MIT, set up a winter externship, or just do nothing. This amounts to six weeks of bliss!
“Did you know that there is a special rule from City Hall to make sure each house has plenty of light and air, Mickey?” the wise frog asked.
“No, I haven’t heard about that.”
“Well, there is. Blue Nose told me about it,” answered Flap Foot, hopping about to limber up his stiffened legs. “It’s is called zoning. It is a good rule, like brushing your teeth, only this rule is for people who build buildings.”
One of the most interesting things that I have learned in school thus far is the history of the urban renewal program. As a budding urban planner, I have often used the term “urban renewal” interchangeably with “urban revitalization” to describe the process of neighborhood improvement via economic and housing development. Regardless of the term I used, I was very clear that revitalization – or renewal – was a catch-22. The implementation of business and housing developments would jumpstart a neighborhood deemed blighted and consequently, only affluent residents could afford to enjoy the amenities of the revitalized neighborhood.
Lastmonth’s blog outlined how to find books recommended by many planners—important,classic, or accessible.
However,summer is also a time to push your viewpoint a bit further. For those wantingreadings that might push you tothink differently about planning, the following lists are useful startingpoints. (And a note to planners—we need more of these lists reflecting different placesand people and issues!)