As a member of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association, I was sent an invitation to take part in an online survey. I'm sure my responses will be puzzling as I was neither overly critical nor supportive of much Mn/APA is doing (blah, blah, blah is how to read my answers). When asked what I thought of their legislative initiatives, I referred them to my article on the pending variance legislation (Coding for Planner Gods - March 2, 2011) and when given a chance at the end of the survey to express any additional thoughts, I added the following:
It is my belief that the current incarnation of the planning profession, which is primarily a zoning profession, is becoming increasingly irrelevant. For quite a while now we've talked an anti-sprawl talk and walked a pro-sprawl walk. Now that the sprawl beast has been slain, we are having trouble finding both a voice and a gait. With most of our practitioners being employees of governments, the era of government austerity we are entering into is not likely to be kind to planners unless we evolve as a profession. We need a new philosophical outlook along with a new generation of tools if we are to have any relevance in the coming decades. My wish for Mn/APA is that they would focus on that monumental issue - the role of the planning profession in addressing prior malinvestment during an age of contraction - and less on maintaining the post- Urban Renewal role of the planning profession.
I submitted three speaker proposals for the upcoming Mn/APA conference, one with Strong Towns and two solo (if I remember correctly). In past years there has been no interest in our contrarian voice, but with our growing readership and the increasingly desperate state of the profession, maybe that wall of exclusion will drop a little. Time will tell.
Come on, planners.....tell me where I'm wrong. Seriously, I think we should have a thorough discussion on this issue and this is as good a place to start as any. The comment link below will allow you to weigh in. Where do we go from here?