Sunday, April 19, 2015

City Planner Visit

After being city planners for the last two months themselves, students welcomed a professional urban planner/architect to school! From our visitor, students learned about how one becomes a city planner, the years of schooling - the many disciplines that need to be studied, the apprenticeship process, and most importantly the collaborative skills that are necessary for working with lots of other people. These skills are very familiar to us now after needing to negotiate several key issues along our city model project!

Our guest lead us through a scenario of an empty city block (vacant lot) located across the street from a school. We learned that before any construction can begin, the soil conditions must be determined. Soil samples would be sent to scientists for analysis. Even if the land looks unused or empty, he explained, you can't be sure of the contaminants or quality of the soil until it is fully analyzed by researchers. We learned that just because the lot is empty and may seem neglected, many people in the community may have strong feelings about what it should be used for. The people in the neighborhood will attend public meetings with the city officials and with city planners to discuss and debate the possible plans for the property. The city planning team might hear many different suggestions from the neighborhood community members and the planners would need to be responsive to lots of different perspectives. We understand now from our guest that there are meetings, meetings, and more meetings involved in city planning! From proposal project meetings, finance meetings, meetings with the city mayors office, meetings with the engineers, meetings with landscape architects, construction team meetings, and meetings with developers. Wow, sounds exhausting! When asked by a fourth grader, "What is your favorite part of city planning?" our visitor responded, "After the project is complete; seeing the people using the space or site that I helped to develop, that is my favorite part!"

Work in Progress
We too had lots of "meetings" and debates as our model city came together. Although we worked in separate teams within our neighborhoods: The City Park/Zoo Team, The Mountain Team, The Marine Nature Center Team, The Resort Team, The Airport Team, The Farm Team, and The Green Power Team, students also met up for several city-wide discussions. The entire group periodically came together and collaborated on carefully and accurately connecting each of the separate poster board neighborhoods. During one of our city-wide meetings, students agreed that an important detail was that they wanted our roads to sometimes be different widths within each of the neighborhoods but then to become the same width where the roads connected across neighborhoods! 

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