Many thanks to Gretchen Goldman the Union of Concerned Scientists for their support. This kind of speaking up is important, not just for me, but for the benefit of anyone who has a viewpoint contrary to their own industry's standard practice.


Last week, Minnesota engineer and planner Charles Marohn received a letter notifying him of a complaint of misconduct filed against his professional engineering license. Was Mr. Marohn accused of a misstep in his professional engineering practices? No. Rather, the complaint concerned Marohn’s writings on his website, Strong Towns.

I’ve talked here before about the rights (and the responsibility) of scientists’ engaging in the public dialogue around science-based decisions.  Whether or not you agree, I think none of us would expect to have our professional credentials questioned simply for speaking out for reform in the area we work.

Attacks on an engineer’s credentials for simply advocating change

Minnesota engineer and planner Charles Marohn was notified that a complaint had been filed against his engineering license for misconduct. The board determined no violation had occurred, but attacks like these have a chilling effect on experts. Photo: Courtesy of Charles Marohn

Marohn started a blog in 2008 that evolved to a nonprofit called Strong Towns. Marohn and the group raise issues and discuss solutions to why American cities and towns are going broke.  Utilizing their engineering and city planning expertise, they work to address what they see as unsustainable development patterns in the U.S. that damage the safety and wealth of communities. Instead, they argue, we should re-think the way we fund and build urban infrastructure to be more safe and productive for all. 

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