Pushing Ahead with Inclusive Planning in North Carolina; A Toolbox for Local Governments to Address Inequality

Author: Nate Baker, AICP, Associate at Clarion Associates Conversations about equity dominated the American Planning Association National Conference held in New Orleans in April. Inequality has risen to the forefront of policy discussions, spinning off debates around the usual suspects: access to opportunity, gentrification and displacement, affordable housing, transit, economic justice, and other issues that affect vulnerable communities. Equity even influences other aspects of the human condition, such as isolation and despair. Inequality is not a new topic for planners, but the modern challenge of inequality as it relates to race, wealth, and income – is a unique one for planners. Unlike many previous urban crises like urban renewal, sprawl, and exclusionary zoning practices, the origins, scope, and perpetuation of 21st century inequality extend beyond the power of the planner, the borders of the planner’s jurisdiction, and the powers of local government. This leaves planners and policymakers scrambling to assemble tools that help alleviate inequality’s symptoms without addressing the origins of the crisis.  Luckily, there are ways North Carolina planners can help local governments alleviate disparities and promote fairer cities that serve everyone. Planners’ understanding of the interrelationships between complex issues and their context-sensitive solutions makes them uniquely qualified to play a key role in this process. Inclusive planning at the local level is a powerful tool for dealing with the symptoms of inequality and more communities are taking steps to diagnose the problem and find solutions. Their concerns about inequality are not misplaced; many communities we’ve worked in have seen median wages stagnate, and commute times and costs of necessities increase. Increasingly, planners and officials are recognizing and identifying the challenges facing their cities as...

Great Places 2018 Announced

Professional’s Category: Great Main Street Main Street, Sylva Main Street in Sylva blends the town’s rich cultural history with a vibrant downtown atmosphere and the surrounding beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Main Street is anchored by the Jackson County historic courthouse, the most photographed courthouse in North Carolina. From its perch 107 steps above Main Street, this Nationally Registered Historic site houses the County library, the Genealogical Society, the Historical Society, and provides community meeting space. Sweeping down the hill from the Courthouse, locals and visitors alike are treated to an eclectic blend of retail shops, restaurants, breweries, cocktail bars, book stores, and residential apartments all located within buildings that are a part of Sylva’s Nationally Registered Historic District. Main Street also serves as the epicenter for Sylva’s annual festivals, parades, and community events. The one of a kind appeal of Main Street Sylva is undeniable, even in Hollywood. Main Street was cast as Ebbing, Missouri in the 2017 Golden Globe and Oscar winning movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. Although Ebbing is a fictional town, Main Street is very real and continues to be the cultural center of Sylva’s vibrant downtown. Main Street, Waxhaw Downtown Waxhaw has thrived throughout the years by its ability to evolve. Waxhaw started as a mill town, then reinvented itself as a destination for antiques, and is now becoming Union County’s hub for diverse retail shops, award-winning eating and drinking establishments, local artisans, and cultural events. The downtown is split by the railroad track with Main Street on each side. An overhead pedestrian bridge joins the two, and when trains roll through...

Sign up for the Mentor-Match Program

Author: Nate Baker, Co-chair, Young Planners Group The Young Planners Group is hosting the Mentor-Match program again this year and we need your help in making this important opportunity possible. The program allows young planners or planning students (mentees) to match up with experienced planners or planners who have been in the profession for over two years (mentors). YPG will then continue to facilitate communication through social events and web-based communication. Guidance may include: Professional development, job hunting, learning about career paths, involvement in APA Conference session recommendations, professional networking Learning more about the planning the profession You will have a chance to meet your mentor/mentee face-to-face on Wednesday, September 27th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm during the APA-NC Welcome Reception and on Thursday September 28th at the Membership and Diversity Mixer starting at 6:30pm. We will provide some basic guidance to kick things off and you can also connect at other times for lunch, other sessions, or events. In addition to other social events, YPG will host a March Mentor Meetup in the spring. Please see below for instructions and more details. Mentors Are you a seasoned professional who can provide career advice to the next generation of planners? Do you have advice to share about planning in North Carolina? Are you a veteran of the APA NC Conference and willing to share your expertise and tips? As a mentor you will be matched up with an emerging professional who is attending the conference and has signed up for the program. If you would like to be a mentor apply here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TQYYTGV Mentees Are you new to planning in North...
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