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Planning for the complexities of the human spirit

A friend shared this link with me and it got the wheels turning in my head about something I find particularly interesting. Do we over-emphasize things in our society that should really be shaped by the people who use and occupy them instead of shaping the people who use them?

In an earlier entry I wrote about our emphasis on planning for the inanimate objects in our society (i.e. buildings and infrastructure) and leaving the living things to figure it out once everything else is in its place. In my mind this is a backwards way to plan for a society of people and living things.

An obvious example of this, to me, would be our modern day zoning codes. These well-intentioned codes were developed to help keep the public safe and healthy from the harms of the built environment. What it has also accomplished is an extreme segregation of uses and building types. This seems to be something that is counter-intuitive to the human mind and how people actually function with their surroundings.

Human beings don’t inherently look at communicating, interacting, dining, shopping, playing, working and living as being mutually exclusive. Often times these things blur together as you might play where you live, you might shop where you dine, you may work where you live, and you certainly communicate and interact with other people while you do all of these things. So it begs the question – why are we not planning our communities in such a way?

It is a bold complex proposition to plan in such a way as it attempts to plan for the limitless possibilities and extreme complexities of the human mind. It is a planning technique that would celebrate the very things that make humans so special and unique. And I believe that it is something that can be achieved through the great imagination and thoughtfulness of only the human mind.

Photo from Jayson Gomes – CincyImages

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.