Was a big success, and we were at the Fortress of Planning (pictured above) so late they turned off the lights and kicked us out. Special thanks go to my fellow panelists - Eric from Thayer Avenue, Cindy at Rockville Central, David at Greater Greater Washington, and Barnaby from the Friends of White Flint blog - and of course everyone at the Planning Department who put this together, including Rina Brulé who put it together, moderator Fred Boyd, and department director Rollin Stanley, who I still have a bit of a "planner-crush" on.
Not surprisingly, the Planning Department's own blog The Straight Line has a nice re-cap of last night's event:
Two ideas in the discussion struck me. The first was Dan Reed’s passion for his community and the sense of justice that prompted him to start blogging. He recounted some success in connecting the Silver Spring skater kids to the planning process through his blog. This is the kind of outreach planners know that must do to create a valid plan, but don’t always achieve.
Connecting to a larger community through blogs may be one way to get beyond the “white, middle-class, retired” people who Reed sees as making decisions for communities they may not be part of.
(I think this is giving me a little too much credit. I've written a lot about skaters in Silver Spring, but I don't think I've directly influenced the planning process other than making non-skaters aware of the issues at hand.)
Either way, if you haven't seen the blog before, definitely check it out. It's really exciting to see what planners do for a living, and what inspires them. Hopefully, that kind of transparency will make the general public more interested, or at least more trusting, of those who make the decisions that affect their lives and communities.
Next week, the Rethink Montgomery speaker series continues with a discussion on "Infrastructure," with panelists Casey Anderson of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (and a Woodside resident) and planning consultant Richard Layman, who writes Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space. The event's next Thursday, April 15 at 7:30pm at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Downtown Silver Spring.