Planners Connect Communities and Can Help Elevate Voices

Planners are on the frontline of change. Every day, planners find solutions to the problems that communities face and help them thrive by creating communities of lasting value. Planners are the dot connectors and the keepers of the vision. We also have the capability, and the duty, to educate residents of our histories and cultures that are deeply rooted in the core of what gives our communities a sense of place and belonging for everyone.

The recent violent and bigoted events across Florida are unsettling. We encourage our members to act during this crucial time to create a narrative and develop tools that elevate the voices of all residents. Options include revisiting zoning practices, land development codes, and historic preservation efforts to ensure the voices of forgotten residents left out of past decisions are folded into the planning and placekeeping efforts of today.

The AICP Code of Ethics calls on all planners to “[e]xamine our own cultures, practices, values, and professional positions in an effort to reveal and understand our conscious and unconscious biases and privileges as an essential first step so we can better serve a truly inclusive public interest promoting a sense of belonging.”

We can start by implementing the following:

  • Cultivating safe and healing spaces in our work for each other. We are often the tools in our work, so how do we make the time and hold space for each other’s journeys and learn from each other? How do we heal?
  • Centering and championing youth within the urban planning process and community engagement efforts. Our members should consider the need to prioritize making information or strategies interesting and engaging for youth.
  • Adopting an approach that leans first on effective listening and creating a welcoming and safe environment for people to feel comfortable discussing their families, neighborhoods, cities, and the future.

Statement from the APA Florida Executive Committee