11 March 2010

And so it begins...

Image: Michael Spry, all rights reserved

I have been effectively cajoled into starting a blog, wherein I shall regale you all with my views on all the things that I hold dear. These will include, but will not be limited to, urban planning, transit issues, community development, cartography and the like. I shall do my best to keep things on topic, but please do not be surprised when I go off into long, rambling tangents on soccer, soul 45s, vintage airline ephemera or the Portland Trailblazers

About the name of this blog...it is a reference to a song from the Jam's 1982 album, "The Gift" titled "The Planner's Dream Goes Wrong" (you can watch a fan-made video for it
here). So often, those in the planning profession presume to know what is best for society, since after all, we are the ones who have devoted our lives to learning the ins-and-outs of building codes and land-use ordinances.

In the 1960s, the wave of urban renewal hit the United Kingdom, moving tens of thousands of working class Britons out of 2-up-2-down rowhouses into brutalist,
Corbusier-inspired tower estates. The country suffered a severe recession in the 1970s, leading to government cutbacks on maintenance and security. By the end of that decade they had become rather dreary places to live, leading the Jam's Paul Weller to write, "
They were gonna build communities-it was going to be pie in the sky; But the piss stenched hallways and broken down lifts say the planner's dream went wrong".

It is easy for us to assume what people need, because all too often we are not the ones who need to live with the results. I firmly believe that planners can play an important, beneficial role, but only if they are able to put aside their preconceptions and listen to the community. And so I have given a blog which will generally have an optimistic tone a pretty grim name...to remind us that what may seem like a great idea today may have unforeseen consequences.

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