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  • Jena Skinner, AICP

Separation of Planning- err, Planners

I am often reminded that planners in the private world are quietly overlooked and excluded from the vital role they play in our field. For instance, our governing organizations are out there trying to secure federal monies to help support local governments. This is a great thing, as you can't escape the role of government in planning; however, it is being done in a way that separates "us" from "them." Let me explain...


On the American Planning Association website, there is an article entitled:

"Planners Demand Emergency Funding for State, Local Governments"

Ok. Planning is an essential tool, and I am a big supporter. I support you, planners! It then goes on to discuss this:


"The past several months of the COVID-19 pandemic have pulled financial limitations into sharp focus for many state and local governments. While communities are forced to weigh budget-saving measures for the new fiscal year, planners are fighting to keep their jobs."


Ok, again, my government planning friends - I support you! And here's where I say BUT: As an independent, one-person planning firm (self-employed), I have felt very overlooked in this whole pandemic because I don't qualify for grants as I have no employees; I am working, so no unemployment for me- oh and I don't qualify anyway; and; aren't I part of the community? Question: will this money be granted to protect government planning jobs also be available for non-government persons in a crunch as we are also an integral part of the planning process? I mean, who do they think are working so very hard to bring them planning applications? *sigh* It goes on to say:


"Yet planners and planning-supported services are increasingly being terminated due to lack of funding. This leaves communities without the expertise and resources to continue long-awaited community projects, to plan for the present and future of residents in an equitable way, or even to maintain the struggling local economies during this pandemic."


I get what they are saying- hey, I am involved in community projects, am a resident, AND part of the local economy. (Another but), it leaves this minority planner starving for the same love and recognition from the same organization that public and private planners pay the same dues to (correction, many government employers pay their dues/conferences/training. I pay everything under the sun out of my own pocket, and I make a whole-ton less than when I worked in government).


My point in this post is that you need to be careful in only marketing towards the majority of a professional group as government employees, "accidentally" excluding the minority of private or independent planners. This little guy is important to my community and often overlooked in big professional organizations. HOWEVER, if that's the way you think, then I'd be HAPPY to take a discount when my dues are to be paid in December. Oh, by the way, APA, the dues are based on a minimum salary of $50,000. Yeah, um...about that...


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