The In Between
The biggest challenge facing the planning industry is the lack of attention to the “in between”.
Planners create plans and have tools that allows them to see the arterials, the train tracks, the residential areas, the industrial areas, etc. They know at a very surface level where everything belongs. And they continue to create tools that reinforce this practice.
Planners also know how the citizens (residents) of an area looks like. They all know what a human looks like, an old person, young person, hipster, etc. which is possible thanks to our loud policy wonks who claim to have an innate understanding of demographics, employment figures thru BLS surveys, etc. Even though they go to less than a dozen community meetings a year.
And accordingly urban planners make products that are easily and readily created from these surface level tools. Soulless master plans, asinine long range plans, Hispanic programs in low income areas (I know its racist but it’s sadly true), bike plans that create more conflict with cars, studies that reinforce false stereotypes or out of date laws, etc.
What planners don’t have access too or are empowered to seek is what lies in between. How citizens commute, what they’re eating, who lends money to who, how big ones family is, where kids go to school, what time people wake up.
The dynamics of a community.
The important stuff, the stuff that people live and go thru when they have to deal with the shortcomings of planning. And that’s why most of America is tired and sick of government and the so called experts. Because they get so many of the little things wrong.
So instead of making master plans or long range plans that actually benefit the residents of a community, planners instead continue to use out of date techniques and inadequate tools to create products that create or reinforce the long term problems instead of solving them.
The problem is that most working planners know this, most just don’t do anything about it.