Infuriating? Hilarious? Not a single bit of Strong Town’s “Urban Planner’s Oath” applies to what Jeff Gahan and his minions are doing in New Albany.

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The Urban Planner’s Oath? Like kryptonite, dude.  

It has been Jane Jacobs week at Strong Towns.

JANE JACOBS IS A POWERFUL SYMBOL FOR PRESENT-DAY URBANIST MOVEMENTS, BUT HER WORK IS ABOUT FAR MORE THAN JUST BUILDING WALKABLE PLACES.

From May 2-6, in honor of the 100th anniversary of her birth, Strong Towns will explore the hard-hitting realities of Jane Jacobs’ activism: the need for financial solvency in American towns, her insistence on local decision-making instead of top-down proclamations and her “chaotic but smart” approach to improving cities.”

For me, the culmination of Jane Jacobs week is this Urban Planner’s Oath.

In honor of Jane Jacobs week, we are seeking to fill an intellectual void by providing an oath for urban planners. While the American Institute of Certified Planners has a code of ethics with some statements of aspiration, they are not well aligned with a Jane Jacobs way of thinking. It is precisely that — a way of thinking and not a set of outcomes — that we are seeking to inspire. Please share this oath (created with input from Strong Towns members) and discuss it with the planners in your community.

Of the nine urban planner’s bullet points, none apply to New Albany, where in reality, Jeff Gahan is the city’s chief (sub)urban planner.

In fact, none of these points come even close to describing the way we do things here. Perhaps that’s because Strong Towns openly uses a five-syllable word that sends local officials fleeing in all directions: Intellectual.

Talk about the kiss of death. Consider these three examples.

  • I will not impose my vision but will seek to use my expertise to co-create the vision of those I serve,
  • I will advocate for approaches that are within our grasp and will not assume that future generations will be able to bear burdens which we cannot bear today,
  • If a monument is to be built in honor of the things we have accomplished today, I will insist that it be built by a subsequent generation as only they are capable of fully discerning our worthiness of such an honor.

Amazing, isn’t it? You can’t even imagine a New Albany mayor or city planner embracing these ideas, can you?

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