Ode to public sector planning

14 Feb 2023

Woe, the start of the new year - and in typical fashion, January brought us several opportunities to be reminded that these are testing times for planners. Samuel Stafford collected a second round of accounts of work in public authorities, the RTPI explored planners' well-being in Wales as part of the Big Conversation, the Local Government Association published a survey highlighting the difficulty councils face recruiting and retaining planners, and Urban Design London hosted its own discussions of morale among planning officers. A rare glint of positivity came from a meeting of planning directors for the American Planning Association (albeit in October).

Whatever the Valentine's Day equivalent of "bah humbug" is is what I say to all this! There are still seven, maybe eight, of us planners who harbour amorous feelings for the planning profession and need to express them on this, the most lovey-dovey of days. To help hasten the warmth and optimism of spring, I propose an Ode to Public Sector Planning to which I hope you will generously and genuinely contribute.

I'm starting us off. Poetically, I'm not at all sure what constitutes an ode, but these are words and they have been arranged, so here goes.

The personal investment
The civic pride
The people, the relationships, the authentic connections
The least expected
The most profound
Geeks, wonks, nerds, quirks abound
The integrity, the curiosity
The care

Oxfordshire, UK:
The frustrations and the laughs shared.
Knowing that for once, you might get it right,
and step by step we improve this world of ours.
Helping others and change their minds, one councillor at the time.

Maine, US:
Helping to facilitate the best buildings and public spaces, everywhere
The work is not for the faint of heart
But every vacant, underutilized lot deserves a fresh start
Late night meetings getting yelled at isn't easy
But sitting in a brand new pocket park you helped design, the air is light, and breezy

Add the next line(s)!

Fill in the form below and I will add your contribution to the ode above - dig deep, say it with feeling, let's woo the planning profession back after this harrowing break-up.