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Recent Episodes

People Behind the Plans: Mark de la Vergne

What is mobility? It’s simply the ability to get somewhere, says Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the Mayor’s Office in Detroit. But when it manifests in the real world, this essential facet inevitably presents challenges for all types of municipalities, from New York to Austin to Seattle. In Detroit’s case, those challenges have been built up over years of policy decisions, but Mark’s job is to alleviate pain points by bringing in new technologies and services. In the last year, the city has embarked on a series of innovative pilot projects revolving around transportation solutions, such as bringing more car-share vehicles to Detroit's neighborhoods so residents living beyond the city's core have alternatives to car ownership. His big-vision goals include improving existing and adding new connected technologies to the city's infrastructure — not to drum up hype but to actually address safety and operational issues. Mark names empathy as a crucial aspect of his work, because knowing what kinds of frictions exist for different people around the city is key to serving all Detroiters.

People Behind the Plans: Taryn Sabia

Resilience, civic infrastructure, participatory design — these topics and more play important roles in Taryn Sabia's work. Taryn is the director of the Florida Center for Community Design and Research at the University of South Florida's School of Architecture and Community Design, where she's also a research associate professor. In a wide-ranging conversation with host Courtney Kashima, AICP, she talks about why planners must encourage the development of a civic infrastructure in their communities — and how they can do that. Taryn discusses the Mayors' Institute on City Design, which she hosted in 2014 and 2017 and gives city officials the opportunity to work with planners, architects, and designers on tough development challenges in their cities. In reflecting on the interdisciplinary nature of her work, she underscores the need for allied professions to come together on resiliency issues — such as building erosion due to saltwater inundation — as many Florida communities grapple with these realities on a daily basis.

People Behind the Plans: Bob Becker, FAICP

New Orleans’s City Park claims some impressive titles: At 1,300 acres, it’s the largest regional park in Louisiana, and it ranks as the most visited park in the state at nearly 15 million visits per year. But that wasn’t the case 13 years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, 2005, and devastated the city — including that well-loved civic space.

For this special episode of People Behind the Plans, recorded in New Orleans at the National Planning Conference earlier this year, Courtney hears from Bob Becker, FAICP, CEO of City Park and an adjunct professor at the University of New Orleans. During the first half of the episode, Courtney and Bob look back on the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the park — every building damaged, 2,000 trees destroyed, and 90 percent of its funding gone overnight. Just five months before the storm hit, the organization finished devising a new master plan for the space, and Bob stresses how important that document was for charting a course forward during the recovery effort. (In fact, their work was recognized with a 2010 National Planning Excellence Award for a Hard-Won Victory.) During the second half of the episode, Bob talks about his career trajectory, including how he ended up doing planning work in Kuala Kencana, a company town in Papua, Indonesia, and how he finished a PhD program at a later-than-typical point in his career.

Planning the Autonomous Future: Episode 5, featuring Lisa Nisenson

In this episode, Jennifer and Kelley pick Lisa Nisenson’s brain to find out why the founder of the startup Greater Places and advisor to Alta Planning + Design thinks scenario planning is crucial to designing the autonomous future. Nisenson explains what scenario planning actually is, how it became an essential part of a planner’s toolbox, and how it really works in the context of automation. She mentions notable people working in the field and the tools they’re developing (but she also argues for putting the tools away so as to not limit our thinking). Throughout the conversation, Nisenson makes the case for integrating this framework into planning for the autonomous future.

For more on scenario planning, check out APA's member-only Research KnowledgeBase collection.

People Behind the Plans: Kate Hartley

Kate Hartley laughs when talking about what could have been if she had chased a career in legal history, the academic path she started on while in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. But after taking a couple urban planning classes on a whim, she never looked back. Nowadays, Kate focuses on all things housing as the director of the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) in San Francisco. She and Courtney discuss how the Affordable Housing Bonus Program leverages incentives to create affordable housing and why it's so difficult to deliver units for middle-income households in the city. Kate praises the Mission Action Plan 2020, which focuses on decelerating the rate of eviction and displacement in the famed neighborhood. She talks about the challenges inherent in her work but also projects from other cities that inspire her, such as Vancouver's investment in modular housing for homeless households.

People Behind the Plans: Greg Lindsay

Courtney welcomes to the podcast Greg Lindsay, who visited Chicago in March for the 2018 National Shared Mobility Summit, and the two grapple with how developments in technology are radically changing cities and affecting the work planners do across the country. As a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker, Greg thinks constantly about cities, and he argues that we've chosen to make living in the dense urban core a luxury good. Greg is also a senior fellow at NewCities and the director of strategy of its offshoot LA CoMotion — an annual urban mobility festival in the Arts District of Los Angeles — as well as the coauthor of the book Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next, which Courtney and Greg discuss. The phenomenon of co-working and co-living spaces, tactical urbanism, and the equity implications of certain technologies also make their way into this dynamic conversation.

Planning the Autonomous Future: Episode 4, featuring Rebecca Hunter and John Estrada

Jennifer and Kelley sit down with Rebecca Hunter of Crown Castle and John Estrada of eTrans Systems to break down exactly how infrastructure relates to autonomous vehicles. Rebecca explains why connectivity requires a wireless and wired network, how densification of infrastructure will affect traffic safety, and why the comprehensive plan should address these issues. John delves in to the various technologies being used in the field, like LiDAR (which stands for "Light, Detection, and Ranging”) and haptic systems, and which cities around the U.S. are seeing some of these tools in action.

People Behind the Plans: Mitchell Silver, FAICP

Mitchell Silver, FAICP, thinks parks are more than just islands of green spaces — much, much more. As Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Mitch makes it his mission to understand how people use these critical urban spaces, and he aims to ensure that children, adults, seniors, and everyone in between have access to a quality 21st-century park system.

Courtney caught up with Mitch during the 2018 National Planning Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the two discussed not only how he was shaped by a childhood spent blocks away from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, but also how seriously he takes public engagement when working with residents on park projects. He touches on some of the initiatives under way in his department and highlights a few of the less well-known examples of park success stories in New York City, including St. Mary's Park in the Bronx and Highbridge Park, home to the city’s oldest standing bridge. Mitch reflects on his time in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he served as Chief Planning & Development Officer and Planning Director and sought to encourage growth in a community once hesitant to change. He also shares his views on equity, which he defines simply as fairness, in a bid to eliminate the jargon planners can sometimes employ when discussing the subject.

People Behind the Plans: Kristin Saunders

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Courtney talks with Kristin Saunders, principal transportation planner with the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility & Infrastructure. They discuss the new department’s five ambitious goals relating to safety, access, reliability, affordability, and engagement. They cover Kristin’s work on the city’s bike plan and the City Steps Assessment, which aims to understand how each one of Pittsburgh’s 800 public staircases fit into the pedestrian network. The two even tackle the commotion surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers’ player JuJu Smith-Schuster and his stolen bicycle, which saw the city come together in support of finding the athlete's primary mode of transportation.

Planning the Autonomous Future: Episode 3, featuring Jeff Tumlin

In the third episode of the APA Podcast series Planning the Autonomous Future, hosts Jennifer Henaghan and Kelley Coyner take stock of multiple autonomous-vehicle-focused sessions from the 2018 National Shared Mobility Summit, which took place March 12–14 in Chicago. Later on in the episode, they welcome Jeff Tumlin, principal and director of strategy at ‎Nelson\Nygaard, to the table. Jeff moderated the summit plenary session called "The (Shared) Road Ahead: An Electrified, Connected, Autonomous, and Accessible Vision of Transit," and he discussed the topic with Jennifer and Kelley, touching on what could happen if autonomous vehicles aren't shared, why we need to prioritize space-efficient modes of transportation for AVs to work, and why planners need to take sprawl seriously when planning for automated vehicles.

People Behind the Plans: Jarrett Walker

In the ninth episode of the People Behind the Plans series, transit planner and author Jarrett Walker offers up his thoughts and musings on all things transit. Jarrett reflects on growing up in Portland in the 1970s, a revolutionary period in the city's history. He describes how his firm, Jarrett Walker + Associates, helps cities and regions think about public transit (hint: they aim not to make recommendations but to help each client clarify their own values and priorities). Courtney and Jarrett discuss his book, Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives, and they delve into the role of the private sector in transit operations. They close out their conversation with a discussion of elite projection, the idea that what a wealthy person might want for his or her city might not be the best thing for the majority of its people.

Planning the Autonomous Future: Episode 2, Featuring Corey Clothier

In the second episode of the APA Podcast series Planning the Autonomous Future, hosts Jennifer Henaghan and Kelley Coyner hear about the ins and outs of conducting autonomous vehicle pilot projects from Corey Clothier, AV technology development and deployment strategist at Mobility e3. Corey talks about his involvement in the first automated vehicle (AV) pilot in the United States — a project called Applied Robotics for Installations and Base Operations (ARIBO), which changed the way that soldiers involved with Wounded Warriors at North Carolina's Fort Bragg Army Base traveled to their medical appointments. Corey also discusses the quickly changing landscape of AV pilots across the country and divulges what steps communities should follow when considering an autonomous vehicle pilot. Later on in the episode, the three talk autonomous vehicle design and what types of eye-catching looks vehicle makers are coming up with.

People Behind the Plans: Doug Farr

Series host Courtney Kashima, AICP, sits down with Doug Farr, a founding principle and president of Farr Associates and the author of Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future. He and Courtney discuss the book's unique approach to defining and improving neighborhoods. They also consider how Doug's hometown of Detroit influenced him in his career trajectory, why equity is crucial in the planning process, and how planners use language in crafting plans and defining outcomes.

Planning the Autonomous Future: Episode 1

"Planning the Autonomous Future" is a new podcast series from APA. The series explores the many ways in which autonomous vehicle (AV) technology will impact cities and regions, mobility, and the planning profession. In this episode, host Jennifer Henaghan, AICP — APA's deputy research director and Green Communities Center manager — and cohost Kelley Coyner — CEO of Mobility e3, a transportation leadership firm that helps communities plan, pilot, and deploy AV fleets — provide an introduction to AVs and explain why every community needs to be paying attention to them.

People Behind the Plans: Joanna Trotter

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Courtney Kashima, AICP, interviews Joanna Trotter, Senior Program Officer for Economic and Community Development at the Chicago Community Trust. The conversation touches on the organization's work funding community initiatives, how that has shaped her view of the profession, the issues and challenges she believes face planners in the future, and more.

People Behind the Plans: Eugenie Birch, FAICP

Courtney Kashima, AICP, interviews Eugenie Birch, FAICP, in a special World Town Planning Day edition of the People Behind the Plans podcast series focusing on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda. Professor Birch is the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education at the University of Pennsylvania and serves as president of General Assembly of Partners (GAP), the engagement platform for the implementation of the UN's New Urban Agenda and associated global agreements.

People Behind the Plans: Lynn Ross, AICP

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Courtney Kashima, AICP, talks with Lynn Ross, AICP, founder of Spirit for Change Consulting. Lynn discusses how she discovered the field of urban planning, equity in the planning profession, her work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Knight Foundation, and much more.

People Behind the Plans: Bev Wilson, AICP

In this episode, Courtney Kashima, AICP, talks with Bev Wilson, AICP, associate professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Their wide-ranging conversation includes consideration of new frameworks for civic technology. They touch on how planners can think about extending the scope of tech tools to include planning issues such as equity, vulnerability, and the connection between rural and urban planning. Whether virtually or in person, planners have the tools to lead the collaboration for the public good.

Green Streets Health Impact Assessment

The Green Streets program is an initiative in Lawrence, Massachusetts with a goal of increasing vital tree cover throughout the community. Through collaboration between Groundwork Lawrence, APA's Sustainable Communities Division, and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Planning Association, the Green Streets program was the focus of a detailed and comprehensive Health Impact Assessment or HIA. In this episode, Jennifer Henaghan, AICP, Deputy Research Director and Manager of APA's Green Communities Center, interviews Angela Vincent, AICP, Economic Development Planner with the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, and member of APA's Sustainable Communities Division; Brad Buschur, Project Director with Groundwork Lawrence; and Neil Angus, AICP, CEP, Environmental Planner with Devons Enterprise Commission, and also a member of APA's Sustainable Communities Division.

People Behind the Plans: Scott Page

In this episode, Courtney Kashima, AICP, talks with Scott Page, founder of Interface Studio in Philadelphia, which is a leader in developing unique and innovative urban design ideas. The pair discusses who's driving the changes that are shaping cities, the influences of partnership, "unintended consequences," and the inspiration that comes from the conversation around public works.

People Behind the Plans: David Fields, AICP

Courtney Kashima, AICP, chats with David Fields, AICP, who shares stories on connecting with place in his 20 years of national and international experience focusing on transportation planning. David and Courtney discuss community engagement and share tips on how to keep planning conversations with citizens on point.

People Behind the Plans: Jamie Simone, AICP

People Behind the Plans is a new podcast series that explores the business of planning for the built environment. Hosted by Courtney Kashima, AICP, planner and small business owner of Muse Community + Design in Chicago, the series features conversations between planners on work, life, ideas, and problem-solving in a variety of communities. In this episode, Courtney has a conversation with Jamie Simone, AICP, on her role with the plan for The 606, an innovative public space and alternative transportation corridor in Chicago.

Disruptive Transportation Technologies: Interview with Andrew Salzberg from UBER

APA's Editor in Chief, Meghan Stromberg, interviews Andrew Salzberg, Head of Transportation Policy and Research for Uber. This interview is part of a series about disruptive technologies within the world of transportation featured in the April 2017 issue of Planning magazine.

Disruptive Transportation Technologies: Interview with Josh Westerhold from Nissan's Future Lab

APA's Editor in Chief, Meghan Stromberg, interviews Josh Westerhold, Senior Manager of Nissan's Future Lab. This interview is part of a series about disruptive technologies within the world of transportation featured in the April 2017 issue of Planning magazine.

Disruptive Transportation Technologies: Interview with Zagster's Jon Terbush

APA's Editor in Chief, Meghan Stromberg, interviews Jon Terbush, Communications Manager from bike share company, Zagster. This interview is part of a series about disruptive technologies within the world of transportation featured in the April 2017 issue of Planning magazine.


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