A Planner’s Personal Statement

I believe every planner needs to periodically do self-assessments in regards to their approach and reasons for pursuing the profession.  As a “non-traditional” planner myself in the tech field, I find it ever important to ground and focus oneself in the tech industry’s sharknado of change.  I recently found my graduate school application essay buried in my document folders.

My pursuit (of planning)… critically addresses livability issues in the present and future and brings opportunities for creative solutions to society’s needs. Geography and civic-service have been essential qualities of mine since childhood.

– An idealistic me.

Pretty standard mission statement for a 20-something.  I’ve actually come to dislike the term “livability” because it has been rather abused by community development departments across the country.  Everything relates to making things livable–no need to point to it. Many livability issues are merely conflicts between opposing parties.  And with greater emphasis on climate change, the term now seems more equated with survivability than mere inconvenience.

I grew up on roads that were faux-rural but actually serving a suburban region of 350,000 people.

I grew up on roads that were faux-rural but actually serving a suburban region of 350,000 people.

I can’t put my finger on what I’d replace it with, maybe a general term like “urban issues.” What is still emphasized for me, is the who and when of planning.  Make it better for people now and for tomorrow.  How can I use my hands to fix those wicked problems.  The way I’ll go about it is to seek creative solutions.   Young planners constantly complain that the current bureaucracy of planning is not serving the people effectively nor timely.  We have to work around this, and be persistent about the changes we want to see.

The rest of my essay is pretty basic, but I noticed an interesting sentence that related to my high school years:

Concepts of human relationships with nature entered my ethos and the desire to address these relationships grew stronger.

I attended an environmental studies magnet school which drilled on the relationship between humans and their environment.  To me, the term nature relates to more than birds and bees, but to complicated ecosystems on our planet, which include our human inventions.   Our technology is creating new layers of movement and interaction in cities.  There’s hybridization, friction, and sometimes new seamlessness.  I think I can affirm that my personal statement is to continue helping humans cope and better utilize their surroundings.