FILE NOTES: Partnerships in Planning


World Town Planning Day on November 8th is dedicated to recognizing the role that planning plays in shaping livable + lovable + lasting communities. 

I count myself lucky to have the good fortune of working and learning side-by-side with planning enthusiasts, many of whom have affected me with their deep, genuine desire to create a better world. The ‘pragmatic-idealist’ is a familiar descriptor often applied to the planner—it suggests a capacity to exercise possibilities-thinking, that is, to explore all forms of favourable outcomes vis-à-vis strategic objectives and present-day constraints. 

In our current moment (coronavirus pandemic, climate change, global inequality, supply chain disruptions, data ethics, food insecurity, social injustices), planners are faced with unprecedented pressures to not only think outside-the-box but also to translate sound ideas into responsive action with speed and agility. In this context, the work of planning is as important and urgent today than ever before. 

All the more, I’m inspired by peers who are committed to planning better for a brighter tomorrow through creativity + compassion + collaboration—it gives me great hope for the future.

The work of planning, however, is multifaceted and the good outcomes that emerge are almost always the result of partnerships with many city-builders, placemakers, and community catalysts. An increasingly diverse and civic-minded ‘stakeholder society’ has generated a loud call for effective participatory approaches toward strengthening trust and leveraging synergies. To that end, strong partnership networks can be helpful in opening dialogue, bridging divides, and co-ordinating action. 

Planning is a collective endeavour shared by many actors. A celebration of World Town Planning Day would be incomplete without acknowledging essential partners in planning.

To all planning practitioners, planning researchers, planning educators, planning students: On this day, let’s open the arena and share the stage with our amazing collaborators.