How to become an effective urban planner

Urban planning or for that matter physical planning is an art and a science of creating better things out of disorder. A planner must have an open mind ready to explore but with insatiable need to come up with beautiful things. If you have a wild mind you are likely to be a better urban planner. However you must not stop at only possessing a wild mind. You must have the passion, a great desire to create better impressions.  Physical planners think creatively. They have a desire to make things better than they find them. They want to make available resources better while not affecting the environment negatively.

The unspoken goal of an urban planner is to protect and preserve the environment while using the same to make a good life for the people. An inspired urban planner wants the best for the community while influencing the environment in such a way that the people get the best from where they live without compromising the quality of nature. At the core of urban planning therefore is nature preservation. More to that, a planner should hold very long term perspective with imagination of how a certain place should look like in future while taking care of people’s needs. Physical planning also takes care of the needs of the population both today, tomorrow and in very distant future.  In brief a physical/urban planner should possess the following characteristics;

1. Interest in nature and its preservation

2. Open and innovative mind

3. Long term thinking and perspective

4. Interest in learning new ideas

5. Wild imagination

6. Working in teams

7. Listening to different ideas and opinions

8. Persuasive and able to explain and convince others

9. Ready to use what is available

10. Calculative and shrewd

These are some of the key soft skills every good physical planner must possess. It should be noted that physical planners interrelate with the community on one side and policy makers and politicians on the other. Each of these have their own interests which often are as divergent as arrows moving in contrasting directions. The planner must try to marry the views of these while imperceptibly introducing their imaginations into the blend. Recall that the planner as an obligation at all times must act in the best interest of the people then again bearing in mind to create the best for the common good of the majority. Furthermore the planner should have, at the back of their mind the goal of promoting community development. Whatever the intention of the planner, if an intervention doesn’t lead to the development or furtherance of the community either in the short or long term, then the planner should rethink their idea. It’s not worth implementing a program or project which is going to have a negative bearing on the lives of the people today and tomorrow. Sometimes urban planers think far ahead of the community for who they are planning.

 It’s imperative that the planner takes time to persuade the people to buy into their idea and influence them about the need of such a project at that particular time. People may fail to get convinced about an idea even when the disposition is fantastic. In this case the person explaining the idea doesn’t posses the capability of worthy explanation or the idea too is alien and not compatible with their needs and aspirations.

Urban planning would only be easy when people had the same rationality and interests. Unfortunately this is never the case. The way someone interprets the situation is different from others because of many factors including their background, level of education etc. Nonetheless the constant fact remains that human being love development wherever they are. The only contradiction is that they often or always want development for themselves first before thinking about other people. It’s hence the role of a planner to explain in simple terms what development means to different people. It’s from this discussion that people should be able to appreciate the type of development that best suits them. Physical planning is easy to achieve when individual interests are subdued in favor of community interests. Even then, community interests must be well-defined and achievable in a specific time frame.

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