Juxtaposition of cables, wires, church steeple, and moon in the morning sky

Consulting in Lancaster City

Not to begin yet another blog post with an apology, but I truly am sorry for not posting more often!

Since graduating with my Master’s in City and Regional Planning, I’ve been working as a planner for the Baltimore-based landscape architecture firm, Mahan Rykiel Associates. In addition, my husband and I are looking at a house down the street from my new office. Should all go as planned (there have been a few hiccups), we’ll be in there next month! In short, life has been great!

Although I don’t have much planning content at the moment—especially not written—I would like to share some of the work I’m doing with Mahan Rykiel.

One of the main projects that I’m working on is an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Lancaster, PA. You can read about the project on the website of our client, the Lancaster City Alliance. In case you haven’t been to Lancaster, or haven’t been in some years (as was the case with myself), I highly recommend a visit soon! The city is in such a great place that this plan, being produced more than 15 years after their previous Economic Development Strategy (1998), is being shaped from a “position of advantage.” Believe me, that’s not just some cheesy line, this city is really something to see! Rather than a reactive, symptom-based plan, this will be a proactive, asset-based strategy that builds on existing strengths in the city!

One of the things that I find most refreshing about Lancaster is the lack of chain stores. Though it does, at times, limit the ability of local residents to meet their daily needs (where to buy underwear!?), it provides visitors and residents alike with unique products and experiences. Furthermore, it enhances the city’s identity as an authentic place, built from diverse backgrounds and a rich heritage.

I credit this success to the strong, energetic spirit of Lancaster’s creatives, young professionals, investors, and business entrepreneurs. There are some terrific dialogues taking place, center on great ideas and inspiring collaboration.

I just got back from my third trip up there; and am still feeling enthusiastic after our Thursday evening public meeting! As a planner, I have never been in a public meeting where the tone remained almost completely positive throughout, where there appeared to be total agreement on many of the points brought up, and where the community truly saw and embraced the potential. I was able to visit a few of our study areas during this most recent trip. Below are some of the (many) photos that I took while up there! Enjoy!

Juxtaposition of cables, wires, church steeple, and moon in the morning sky

Juxtaposition of cables, wires, church steeple, and moon in the morning sky

The Southern Market Center building, Queen Street

The Southern Market Center building, Queen Street

Green window boxes along Queen Street

Green window boxes along Queen Street

Wayfinding signs become attractive from the back with the imposed City logo design

Wayfinding signs become attractive from the back with the imposed City logo design

Commissioned Sculpture outside of the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (PCAD)

Commissioned Sculpture outside of the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (PCAD)

A neighborhood park in Lancaster, PA

A neighborhood park in Lancaster, PA

Curved alleys are scatter throughout Oldtown in Lancaster, PA

Curved alleys are scatter throughout Oldtown in Lancaster, PA

The Cork Factory Hotel, Urban Place along New Holland Avenue/Pike

The Cork Factory Hotel, Urban Place along New Holland Avenue/Pike

Economic Development Strategic Plan Public Meeting, mapping activity

Economic Development Strategic Plan Public Meeting, mapping activity

Economic Development Strategic Plan Public Meeting, mapping activity

Economic Development Strategic Plan Public Meeting, mapping activity

El Jardin, Florist along East King Street in Lancaster City

El Jardin, Florist along East King Street in Lancaster City

Street in Lancaster, PA

Street in Lancaster, PA

Pub facade in Lancaster City

Pub facade in Lancaster City

Downtown Lancaster, Duke Street

Downtown Lancaster, Duke Street

Green window on Duke Street in Lancaster City

Green window on Duke Street in Lancaster City

An arts initiative places painted pianos throughout the City of Lancaster

An arts initiative places painted pianos throughout the City of Lancaster

Lancaster City Central Market Day

Lancaster City Central Market Day

The project is looking at some of the major commercial corridors in the city—Prince and Queen Streets, New Holland Avenue, Harrisburg Avenue, South Duke Street, East King Street, Manor Street and West King Street, and the downtown area. The photos above are limited, mostly, to the corridors we visited this past week (New Holland Avenue and East King Street) and to the downtown area simply because that’s where I went walking yesterday morning!

While this project is still in the early stages, I encourage people to follow along! Search twitter and other sites for #BuildingOnStrength to see what’s happening!

Also, if you happen to be from Lancaster, please take a moment to complete this survey (there is a version en Español).

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DEEP ECOLOGICAL URBANISM

DEEP ECOLOGICAL URBANISM: A framework for integrating science and ethics into the planning and design of human-dominated ecosystems

Here is a copy of my finished capstone project:

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I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Assistance requested for professional project:

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Background: I’m an urban and regional planning student considering a new framework for planning and designing our cities….

I’ve broken human communities into 4 layers:

  1. Habitat
  2. Biota
  3. Society
  4. Cycles

Each layer has 2 sectors:

Habitat describes all physical things that are either (1) built or (2) natural
Biota includes (1) wildlife (e.g. flora, fauna, microbes, fungi, etc.) and (2) humankind
Society is made up of our (1) communities and (2) institutions (i.e. social norms)
BUT….

Cycles describes “things” that are moving, and the act of moving them. BUT I’M NOT SURE HOW TO BREAK DOWN “CYCLES” INTO TWO COMPONENT SECTORS…

I’ve had a couple ideas in the past……

  • A. Networks 
  • B. Metabolisms
  • A. Networks
  • B. Commerce
  • A. Infrastructure (essentially the same thing as networks but new name)
  • B. Stocks + Flows

or something else? I’m having a super hard time and would really appreciate any input!

Essentially, it would need to cover resources as commodities (when left alone, a resource would be a part of habitat, only when it’s harvested would it be a part of cycles); energy; waste; water; trade; industry; economic activity (“economy” used to be a part of cycles, where industry and jobs would be categorized; although I currently have “economy” as a part of institutions…)

No harm in a little self-pride?

I apologize if this comes off in poor taste, but I absolutely must recognize what I’ve accomplished in less than a year. I am often the humble type, but right now, I have no shame!

Not only did I accept the challenge of managing a student organization for my graduate, but I opted to take that opportunity to launch a full-fledged APA-certified Planning Student Organization. With a simple yet clever name, I gave the new Morgan Association of Planning Students (MAPS) a brand [logo, color scheme, graphic style, etc.]; using a pre-existing social media account on Facebook, launched a WordPress website, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account, and a Google+ account with support from my colleague and the Director of Social Media and Communications, Michael Burton; I’ve distributed (semi)regular newsletters and campaigns to our membership; organized two fall events [Park(ing) Day and a presentation from a U.S. Census Bureau individual]; and managed to pull off a largely successful Professional Development Institute (PDI), from which I’ve just come home.

Still riding the high from this morning’s event, it’s difficult to play down how great I feel! The turn out may not have been overwhelming, but our program, after all, only has a graduating 2014 class of 3 students (including myself)!! You can learn more about the event by taking a visit to the MAPS blog. [Take a look at the MAPS 2014 PDI program!] Below is a photo of me (right) with my aunt Cindy Foster, a career adviser and founder of the B’More Hireable, a career club for women. Cindy presented two (out of nine) sessions at this morning’s event.

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Not only am I proud, however, but I also feel enriched. In addition to the great company I kept this morning, I was energized from hearing an accomplished alumni remind me why I’ve chosen this profession; I had discussed with a planning consultant how I to prepare now for my interest in eventually consulting; I spoke with a career adviser about optimizing my resume; I listened to the principal at a leading local landscape architecture firm talk about using my skills as a planner to fit in wherever I can find an opening; I received pointers for acing the interview process; I probed recent graduates about life after grad school; and I had a blast networking with my peers and with local professionals….all before 1:00 p.m.!!

I’m hoping to get some of the presentations uploaded to our website (with permission from the speakers). But in the mean time, here are a few more photos!

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See my short MAPS Blog post about the event!

Planners’ Opinion Survey : ECOLOGY + PLANNING

Planners’ Opinion Survey : ECOLOGY + PLANNING

This is a call to all professional planners out there! It’s professional project crunch time and there’s work to be done. If you can spare 10 minutes, I’d like to request that you take a moment to visit and complete my Planners’ Opinion Survey: ECOLOGY + PLANNING. Let me tell you why it’s worth your time!

If you follow my blog, you may already be aware. I am a May 2014 graduation candidate and the recipient of the 2013/14 Fellowship of APA’s Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Division. The ENRE Fellowship is supporting the research of my professional project which investigates the potential of a new planning approach, called Deep Ecological Urbanism, for improving urban development through the understanding and integration of natural sciences and environmental ethics into urban and regional planning processes.

As a component of my research, I am identifying current practices and opinions about sustainability, resiliency, and ecology issues to understand, support, and identify the potential need for a new planning approach that is focused on ecology, and to identify how cities are currently addressing sustainable development with an emphasis on ecological health.

It is my hope to develop a vigorous knowledge of current practices, progressive planning approaches, innovative policies, and emerging priorities, as well as any challenges and limitations to the implementation of planning projects.The information I will collect through this survey will help me to understand what tools planners need most, and how to best provide these resources.

Results from this survey are crucial to my studies. In addition to identifying areas for further research, this results will help to shape the recommendations that I put forth. Furthermore, I would like note that I will be presenting the findings of my research at the upcoming American Planning Association 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta, GA, at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, April 28th.

So please, take a moment (about 10 minutes) to complete this survey and share the link with your colleagues! Your help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

P.S. The recent lack of posts on this blog is by no means an indication of my laziness! Quite the contrary, I simply don’t have the time to post! However, when I’m finished my professional project (in about 80 days), I will share the results of my research and make it a point to post more frequently. Until then, I will do my best to post more often!

How to deal with all that CSA food?

I had 4 beets, 4 radishes, 6 kale leaves, spinach, lettuce and salad greens, garlic scapes, strawberries, and Swiss chard, and cilantro- here are some of my dishes from week 1!
I also made:
rainbow quinoa with Swiss chard and butternut squash,
Black beans with tofu, corn, cilantro, and garlic scapes
Lots of salads
Pasta with spinach and lemon juice

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The 2012 Annual Sustainability Report is available online!

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The above link takes you to the Baltimore Office of Sustainability’s 2012 Annual Report file, released on April 23, 2013.

I was involved with this report through my position as an annual report intern (alongside Austin Green) with the Office of Sustainability.

Steps You Can Take poster, created for the 2012 Annual Sustainability Report

Steps You Can Take poster, created for the 2012 Annual Sustainability Report