As I walk, I often think to myself about the world around me. Some of the things I see; I love. Some things annoy me. Some places are missing something, and other places are too full. Regardless, I develop a unique perspective and collection of insight, especially on paths that I walk daily.
Now consider that a city can have thousands or millions of citizens. Each with their own opinions about what they encounter. As they journey through their communities they also think to themselves. Sometimes they like the way a little park is laid out, other times they are frustrated by the lack of public washrooms, or are craving a type of food that is not sold in the area. Maybe they wish the street had a bike lane. Perhaps they have a suggestion about how to improve the downtown area, or a concerned mother about the street speed limit. Worldwide, there are billions of these thoughts on a monthly basis. Where do they all go?
The thing is, these thoughts stay trapped in people’s head, or at most shared only with friends and families. Even if thousands of people have the same thought or opinion; nothing is done. Those opinions are lost forever. There is no, community-wide daily conversation occurring about the places we live. In addition, due to life/work/family time constraints only a minority of citizens actually engage with municipal governments to help with planning and bettering their city. This has resulted with the entire role of city planning to be delegated to a select few including professional planners, construction developers and better-off people with more time on their hands. And while professional urban planners and government workers are absolutely needed, history has shown that without check and proper data they can make bad decisions; especially behind closed doors. A platform where all stakeholders can transparently voice their opinion and collaborate will make it harder for mistakes to be made, harder for voices to be silenced and allow continuous, incremental improvement.
The Way Forward
I think it’s pretty clear; we need to involve more voices and opinions in the growth and development of the places we live. We need to make collaboration with municipal government planners, administrators and maintenance workers easier. We need to foster more discussions about where our society is going. I am aware that the world has grown cynical towards Silicon Valley, but we could use a little bit of that culture of rapid iteration, innovation and idea sharing.
My Hope for Plan Together
Plan Together is my contribution towards reaching those goals. At its core it is a simple product; a way to talk about a given point on a map. But that already gets us 80% of the way there; to unleash those silent opinions and to get a discussion going. Plan Together will also allow municipalities to engage with their citizens; posting polls, asking questions, making announcements. My biggest hope for Plan Together is that it changes our relationship with our spatial world. Most people believe their voice and input end with their house or apartment; I want the scope of their belief to include their streets, parks, communities, cities and the whole world.
I’d like to invite you Join Plan Together. To make your silent opinions heard. To see the world around you as yours. To push our communities forward. I will be adding new areas every week, so please check in to see the unique voices around the world. I want urban planning to be a global, collaborative affair. If you would want your area to be open sooner please request it on the Contact Page; this will greatly speed up the process. And if you are a professional, municipal planner check out our Municipal Tools.
Let’s make a difference and plan together.