In honor of Jane Jacobs week, we are seeking to fill an intellectual void by providing an oath for urban planners. While the American Institute of Certified Planners has a code of ethics with some statements of aspiration, they are not well aligned with a Jane Jacobs way of thinking. It is precisely that -- a way of thinking and not a set of outcomes -- that we are seeking to inspire. Please share this oath (created with input from Strong Towns members) and discuss it with the planners in your community.


The Urban Planner’s Oath

I honor the wisdom of those who came before me. With humility, I stand on that which they have built.

I serve those who live here today. Their actions shape my actions. My vision must dance with theirs.

We work for those who come tomorrow. May we deserve their admiration and inspire the best within them.


In honor of this oath, in my role as an urban planner,

  • I will respect the collective wisdom embedded in thousands of years of urban development and will search within traditional frameworks for inspiration when addressing the challenges of today,
  • I will recognize the inherent complexity of urban spaces and resist the urge to impose on them a rigid order, the impact of which I am not capable of fully understanding,
  • I will not seek grand solutions to complex urban problems but instead probe uncertainty incrementally, learning from success and failure as part of each iteration,
  • I will seek out approaches that allow flexibility, provide for adaptation over time and incorporate feedback signals, both affirming and not,
  • I will seek to more deeply understand those I serve by experiencing life in a way as similar to theirs as possible,
  • I will not impose my vision but will seek to use my expertise to co-create the vision of those I serve,
  • I will advocate for approaches that are within our grasp and will not assume that future generations will be able to bear burdens which we cannot bear today, 
  • When making improvements that I expect to outlive me, I will show preference for forms and styles that are timeless and universal, and 
  • If a monument is to be built in honor of the things we have accomplished today, I will insist that it be built by a subsequent generation as only they are capable of fully discerning our worthiness of such an honor.

(Top photo by #WOCinTechChat)

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