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The Future of Planning

Authors: Areti Athanasopoulos*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Careers and professional development, Land Use
Keywords: planning, professional practice, place making, conflict, participation
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


From the piece “Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning” in the journal Places, author Thomas Campanella writes that the planning profession today may be “trivial.” So much of planning today is about acquiescing to the loudest voices, and upsetting the fewest number of people, actively avoiding conflict. It is caught up in bureaucratic rule-making and paper-pushing instead of shaping the places in which people live. At the same time, Campanella writes that “Postwar urban planners abetted some of the most egregious acts of urban vandalism in American history” (Campanella, 2) with urban renewal. Planning has a dark history of causing conflict, of forcing displacement, of redlining, and of discriminatory practices against minority populations. This demonstrates that planning is perhaps not at all “trivial,” but rather a very powerful and, in many ways, dangerous tool. This leads one to ask, how can planners harness conflict and use it as a driving force for the creation of a more pluralistic society, instead of hiding from it or avoiding it? How can the planning profession really encourage participation in the making of place today and also reckon with the destruction of place it was responsible for in the past?

Thomas Campanella, “Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning,” Places Journal, April 2011. Accessed 20 October 2019. https://doi.org/10.22269/110425.

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