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We looked at groups like 1% for Design and Architecture for Humanity, and wondered how a similar model could work for planners.

It’s clear that street design or data mapping skills can be applied in relatively unknown situations, but that’s not true of the ‘softer’ skills planners are good at.

At the time I was asking a lot of questions about the pace of planning – feeling that people come bursting out of grad school and get tangled up in institutions and the slower pace of change on the outside, despite the urgency of the challenges we face.

Setting up Planning Corps gave us a way to try out a different model of engagement ourselves, and see what does and doesn’t work.

The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) implemented some safety improvements over the last ten years, but there was growing widespread sentiment that they weren’t enough.

How useful can your contribution be if you know nothing about the local context and your involvement is over at the end of the evening?

You should explain the Queens Boulevard collaboration; it demonstrates this perfectly.

A little background for those who aren’t familiar with NYC: Queens Boulevard is a major east west arterial corridor in the Borough of Queens.

Can organizations really benefit from working with Planning Corps, given the briefness of involvement and the unpredictability of volunteer planners who attend?

We’re still trying to work some of these questions out, but we were very lucky with the first few sessions.

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