All too often when I tell people I am studying urban planning, my statement is met by a blank stare. Some will mumble something about a city they’ve been to, or admit they don’t know much about it.
Urban planning’s lack of visibility extends to the web, where there is a depressing lack of good websites and blogs about the field. To a certain extent this should not be surprising, since the field is dominated by government officials generally limited to addressing local issues, and university professors who are either unable or uninterested in communicating to a wider public. However, I think the profession is more important than ever in today’s troubled and highly urbanized world, and writers like Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford have shown there exists a huge audience of people interested in building better cities.
Given that context, I have long been a fan of the website Planetizen. One of the web’s best websites on urban planning and development issues, their discussion forums, job listings, news features, and other sections provide an essential resource for the profession. Today they launched their newest feature — a new blog called Interchange, whose contributors include some of the the field’s best-known thinkers and writers. The list includes University of Pennsylvania Professor Eugenie Birch, Next American City editor-in-chief Adam Gordon, innovative scholar Joel Kotkin, and many others. They hope the blog will help provide exposure to new ideas and create discussions that bridge disciplines.
I’ve also been invited to participate. My first post was on the Washington, D.C. library system: “Public Library in Limbo in Washington, D.C.”
> Check out Planetizen Interchange