Why plan for an uncertain future? Our world is changing in ways that we can hardly comprehend. The planning we have been engaged in over the last 100 years, is geared to a world with abundant energy, a stable climate, and a dwindling natural resource endowment that is reliant on cheap energy for extraction. That world is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Oil price spikes due to supply/demand and geopolitical concerns, water shortages (Google Lake Mead, Central Valley, CA or the Ogallala Aquifer for details), and soil depletion are just a few of the problems we face. As we move forward, the notion that we can continue with business as usual (BAU) is not going to sustain us.
Thinking creatively and making difficult decisions will test our abilities, push our cultural boundaries and hopefully shape a world where these uncomfortable realities can be dealt with in an equitable and meaningful manner. I write about things I see, think, and work on as I transition from being a planning student into the world of planning. I am neither a technological optimist, thinking we can invent our way out of all our problems, nor a doomer, believing in returning to a world much like pre-industrial times. I believe that our creativity combined with the lessons from the past will be instrumental tools for laying the foundation for the path forward. Some of my ideas may seem radical, others are just based on common sense and keen observations.
Do interstates through cities cheapen our cities? I-295 in Portland could/should be a candidate for a tear-down. Good question to ask is how would traffic be impacted by turning this into a boulevard? Since I-295 isn’t tolled, is it too convenient? Lots of questions that I am sure will be frowned upon by planners, engineers, and citizens alike. Perhaps when we realize how much it will cost to rebuild and what the lost opportunity cost is, will we maybe think a bit more about radically changing our landscape for the better. The Original Green lays out why highways in cities are a tax revenue looser for cities and the quality of life for those who live there.