I posted this to the professional urbanist listserv, but since my posts get less attention on there than when Andres Duany's pocket emails:
I dunno. Perhaps they don't care to have their profession criticized/critiqued. Maybe it is just another case of generations and their particular outlook bumping into each other. But, I think it's worth posting here as I think it encapsulates much of the cynicism that bubbles up in any of the non-cheerleading message boards towards anything and everything design related. Particularly towards the fees paid by cities across the country and what are they really buying.
All too often it is just another set of plans on the shelves. The citizenry is tired of these plans. They're tired of seeing $10 million for redesign "cuz the city does it big!" True, we do some things big. The inconsequential. Gussying up mistakes. Et cetera. They're tired of "xyz consulting firm is flew in from Boston and boy are their arms tired." They want less plans and more actions. Except, the only way to get those actions was to do it themselves. Vigilante-style.
Slowly but surely we seem to be getting it. Don't bother reading all of Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative class, because Maaann is it dry. Instead focus on the point, the first chapter, which illuminates that the future of innovation, and of cities, will be unleashing the creative power of ALL of us. And the future of planning has to empower people to help guide their neighborhoods. With that said, it also has to maintain a measure of top down. But not to impose things, but to remove impositions, ie the over-reliance and over-spending on cars and highways, which stifle connectivity more than they create or allow it.
We're already creative. Perhaps we don't know it. We design our lives each day. We decorate our homes, our offices, our desks, everything around us. As we externalize some of our private lives outward, to be shared amongst the community; as our living room becomes our neighborhood; and as our dining room becomes the restaurants of our neighborhoods, and we no longer need three extra guest rooms, a study, 4 1/2 baths, a game room, a great room, a home theater, etc., we can begin designing that world too. With our neighbors, with our friends, and with our soon-to-be friends.
Keep in mind that I wasn't addressing this to Dallas so much, but everybody else. The response was triggered by a city council person from Albuquerque (I believe) that expressed his exasperation at another new focus of planning. My retort: