Friday, October 7, 2011

What's that P in APA? Hint: Not 'process'

Journalists and planners share many interests – community wellbeing, policymaking and government, for instance – but here's one thing they don't share: A fascination with process. Most journalists I know get twitchy whenever people start talking about "the process" or about "creating a framework."

Maybe we shouldn't, because after all, the democratic process is just that. But truth is, process is tedious and all too often, an excuse for avoiding difficult or controversial decisions. Plus, it makes for boring coverage.

So it was music to the ears today to hear the national president of the American Planning Association, Raleigh's Planning Director Mitchell Silver, tell the state planning conference of the N.C. chapter of the APA that the P in APA should not stand for Process. "Very often people find comfort in process, not planning," he said.

His Friday morning talk, "The value of planning in the 21st century," was a rousing pep talk aimed at inspiring planners to start planning with a capital P, using plans to express their vision and values. "Sustainability," as a term, he said, has a shelf life, but its intent to support the economy, the environment and equity will live on because they've always been at the heart of the goals of planning. But planning evolves.

Fall back in love with planning, he urged the group. "This is the most exciting time to be in this profession."

I covered his talk via Twitter. (Silver is on Twitter as well, at @Mitchell_Silver.) So rather than blather on, I'll just offer up my Tweeting stream:

– APA Prez + RA Planning Director Mitchell Silver: The P in APA should not stand for Process.

– @Mitchell_Silver To NC planners: Fall back in love with planning. Take your comp plan out for a romantic dinner.

– This one I didn't Tweet because I got behind. But I would have said: People who say no to density are saying we don't want creative workers.

– China is graduating 20K planners a year.

– By 2030 NC will see 124% increase in people over 65.

– By 2015 in US 15.5 million 15.5 percent of those 65+ will live in poor transit  areas. (Corrected, via later information from Silver.)

– By 2030 US will have 22M excess single-family homes. (I.e. built but no buyers.)

– Do we still want to build "Polaroid" communities (suburban subdivisions) for a digital generation?

– If you want Gens Y and Z at your public meetings, gotta use social media.

– Wachovia Center in dntwn Raleigh = 90 times the tax value/acre of the average suburban subdivision.


Anonymous said...

Just curious where the "22 million excess single family homes by 2030" data comes from. Seems like that would be rather difficult to predict. Thanks.

Mary Newsom said...

I'm not sure where the "22 million excess single family homes" but 2030 comes from, but I'll ask Silver. He noted the sources for a lot of his data but I didn't have time to take notes on all of it.

Mary Newsom said...

Silver (reached on Twitter @Mitchell_Silver) says the data comes from Arthur C. "Chris" Nelson and an article in the Journal of the American Planning Association. This link takes you to a 2010 piece in The Atlantic citing Nelson's work. And here's a blog I did about Nelson's talk in Charlotte last February:

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