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Northern Voice 2010 Panel Preview — From Tweets to Plans: Online Conversation for Urban Planning

I’m happy to have the opportunity to moderate a panel bridging two worlds of practice that I think are going to be increasingly interested in each other: urban planning and online publishing.

The organizers for Northern Voice, Vancouver’s annual blogging conference have switched things up this year, opting for two full conference days rather than their usual one day each unconference-programmed session combination, and I’m grateful to them for accepting my session, titled “From Tweets to Plans: Online Conversation for Urban Planning.

The vision for this panel had its origins in the panel I had the chance to participate in with Nancy Pepper, Vanessa Kay and Frances Bula at the SCARP Symposium on Resilience back in March. Northern Voice’s audience means that, instead of talking blogging at a planning conference, this time we are talking planning at a blogging conference.

Like last time, the temptation is always there to trot out the examples of neat web apps that show how things are not being done business as usual. At the SCARP Symposium I started with the big ideas and moved to the examples, and I got some feedback that this may have been better reversed. I think this will also be helpful as a narrative mirroring my own story of how I got interested in planning, even as I too am chipping away at the ideas to get at the heart of what planning actually is.

While professions such as public relations and marketing have been very directly impacted by the increasing numbers of people blogging and tweeting, the connection to urban planning isn’t perhaps as obvious — people talking online doesn’t seem like it’s going to change the way we pour concrete or make decisions on where and how we work with space. But it changes the way people interact with each other around the things they want from life — and at the bottom of it is, this what cities are for. I’m glad to get have three people on this panel with different perspectives and areas of experience:

I’ve been wowed by each of these panelists in my work and interactions with them, and am looking forward to hearing their stories of how blogging can or already is shifting how we make ideas reality in our cities, and how we negotiate what’s in our plans versus what hits the ground. In fact, I can anticipate that the challenge of this panel will be to keep it on a single topic — there’s so much to be said on this topic really, from work on open government, social networking, and online organizing around causes, to hyperlocal blogging and the use of blogging in/for politics and advocacy work. At the same time, City Hall — what we typically associate with ‘planning activity’ — generally remains, for most part, an impassable black box.

That said, a huge part of this panel, of course, is YOU — whether you are going to make it to Northern Voice here in Vancouver or not. Do you have any stories to share about how the public, planning professionals and others involved in the planning process are can use blogging to get things done in different ways? Is there anything you’d be curious to learn or hear about?

(I can’t promise to squish everything into 30 minutes, but do leave a comment if you have a thought, and we can try and continue the conversation online!)

One Comment

  1. Hey, I’m going to Northern Voice this year! I’ll make sure to be at your panel—sounds very interesting!

    Posted April 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

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