What does a Planner do? Last week I gave a presentation (next blog post) and at the beginning I was curious of what my other classmates, future planners, think honestly of what a planner is or what they actually do. I thought it would be great to see it in a collage form in real time, so I decided to use Wordle.net. Despite some technological challenges, I now have the Wordle and have had some time to soak in what ideas and words came to people’s minds when asked to only give one word. I wonder how the results would have differed if I increased more words, or allowed the students to write sentences. What would happen if I filled a room with non-planners, like community members and stakeholders, and asked them the same question- how would their word answers differ?
When I look at this word collage, I see words that could be synonymous with each other such as: mediates, facilitates, liaison, and organize. Though all of these words have their own unique meaning, I see how they all work together especially in the role of the planner. A liaison often interacts with the public and private institutions to organize and facilitate events and people to come together. A planner also mediates between stakeholders and community members, as well as between public and private organizations- or even within them!
Words like complexity, integrate, and multidisciplinary encompass the everyday planner because so many tasks are given to us in hopes that we can make sense of all of the pieces and put them (or most of them) neatly together in a nicely presentable plan. Planners are having to listen to a myriad of ideas from all backgrounds, and often try to incorporate them into a crafted plan, especially if public participation is prioritized as part of the planning process. A surprising word, choreography, though striking at first, reminds me of Jane Jacob’s street performance and ballet of the sidewalk. Planners must remember the unique interactions that occur in their own niches and locations, and how there is no “cure-all” plan that can be adapted to any city or neighborhood. Each plan needs to remember the individual dances and social interactions that occur, and how they come together to present a beautiful collective ballet. Here is a great site of her many famous quotes for reference! https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/17285.Jane_Jacobs
Equity stands out to me personally because I believe that many planners throughout history have advised groups not for the benefit of the whole, but of the planner’s individual interests and benefit. So many initiatives and plans have been proposed but often failed because they did not consider the people they would impact and the people that were in charge of implementing the plan. Often planners forget just who they are planning for, and for what? The context of the situations and justices (or injustices) at play must be considered, especially when people are entrusting you with advising their decisions for a better present and future. Though we do not always succeed in this, planners should strive to be fair, listen to all sides, and make judgement calls or plans with equity as the foundation.
So readers, what do you think a planner does? Give me anything that comes to mind! And then feel free to comment on what should a planner do? I think this is a very insightful conversation that needs to be had more often, especially to bridge the gap between the people of the public and the planner.