Teaching the old guard some new tricks


I don’t know if this scenario applies universally, but in some places there is an unfortunate problem of the old guard of the planning and economic development hierarchy literally standing in the way of innovative ideas and programs. It may be employing alternative energy (solar, wind, or biomass); it may be pushing for more active transportation options (cycling, complete streets, and walking); it may be promoting rail and mass transit; or it may be as simple as offering carrots instead of sticks in the zoning code.

All too often, the old guard maintains its rigid sense of consistency and continuity with past processes, whether or not it means moving forward.  While this may have worked in the suit and tie era, the 21st century planning and economic development paradigm will not just sit still and wait for a slow boat to China to actually turn around. Instead, today’s entrepreneurs and innovators will make haste towards the nimble and open seas of new ideas and cutting-edge efforts.

No one is saying we should not respect and admire the long-term efforts of our predecessors, nor should we ever consider circumventing them or the zoning code. Instead, we must educate them about the new paradigm and how hopping on-board will be beneficial to both them and their community/business/organization.  If this means letting the old guard think that they thought of the idea first, so be it. As professional planners, we should not be working to garner praise and adulation. We are here to get things done and improve our respective communities. Hopefully, as time passes the old guard will embrace the new paradigm and all of us will be working together from the same page.

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This entry was posted in Active transportation, Administration, architecture, Bicycling, cities, civics, civility, Communications, culture, entrepreneurship, environment, government, history, humanity, land use, planning, politics, urban planning, zoning and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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