Urban planning is one of those things people don't realize they can relate to. Everybody understands cities, so why can't they understand how they are planned? Well, there's really no reason. Urban planners -- steeped in the inner workings of the urban world -- probably aren't the best to try to communicate this idea. So bring in the artists.
Getting people to understand the intricacies of planning can be a challenge. The modern-day emphasis on public participation is an effort to get people involved, but it's frankly not too appealing for most people to attend public hearings about zoning amendments and setback changes. But those zoning amendments and setback changes could be pretty important. Planners need to try harder to connect with the people their work affects to explain its importance. It's time to break from convention. One possible way is dancing.
What do planners do? Last month I highlighted the findingsof several surveys of planners aiming to identify core skills for theworkplace. They highlight the importance of skills in communication,information analysis and synthesis, political savvy, and basic workplacecompetencies and attitudes. In all these surveys, however, the ability to writewell is at or near the top.