Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Connectedness Critique

I still love this post: The Connectedness Critique.

Largely because of this line: "This lumbering iteration is, I suspect, is the highest degree of intelligence that you can ever expect from a democratic process."

Elected officials have to come up with solutions to some pretty crazy problems. But problems tend to be raised and solved on an ad-hoc basis. In a way, the process of planning is the systemization of problem solving--an ongoing process of raising the issues, coming up with solutions and figuring out how to implement them.

This suggests that one of the most valuable parts of the planning process may be what is typically regarded as the most problematic: Whenever you start planning for anything, all sorts of related issues are raised. Which tend to confuse and muddle the process--the planning process becomes an open forum for airing grievances. In a weird way, the public planning process may be the most democratic aspect in modern America, although education runs a close second. (Worth noting that both are spatially based, with specific geographic areas of effect.)

I'm fine with lumbering, fine with disjointed incrementalism. But the above suggests that we should stop making plans that are 'finished', should acknowledge that the process of planning is ongoing, that issues were raised that need to be resolved in future plans.

This suggests a move away from all-at-once 'comprehensive planning', and towards a series of subject specific 'master' plans. I'm fine with lumbering, fine with disjointed incrementalism. As Mr. Walker suggests in his post above, it may be the best we can hope for.

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