Dreamers and planners

“You do all these inspiring things,” she said. “I’m just a planner.”

I thought for a minute.

One of the things I love about A Peace of My Mind is that it lets me drop into different communities and spark interesting conversations. I meet new people and I see the creative ways that people work toward positive change in the world.

One of the challenges is that I don’t get to stay. Before we get too far into the conversation, I am off to the next place.

“But you get to stay and do the real work,” I said.

Urban planning. That’s the work she does. She helps make the decisions about where the sidewalks will go…to make sure that people have a safe path to walk from affordable housing to grocery stores….to decide whether an intersection needs a stop sign or a yield sign to reduce accidents…to craft a balance of residential and commercial that helps a community thrive.

The world needs both things. The person who can move from place to place and see trends and connections between them, and the person who stays rooted in a place and does the hard work of moving it forward through long-term relationships.

I mourn a little bit the fact that I can’t do both right now. But this is my season to travel. The point is, to learn how to make an impact in the season you are in. There is plenty of work to go around.

I’ll be honest and tell you that when I first got the call to speak at the Upstate New York Chapter of the American Planning Association, I didn’t immediately see the connection. (actually, at first I imagined it was event planners) But the more we talked and the more I understood their mission,  the more clear the connections became to me.

The work of planning has the ability to shape communities. It can impact the large and small things that make our cities more vibrant and accessible for all citizens. It took a few tries to get our question just right, but at the conference we asked, “How do you work to inspire just and effective communities?”

In the end, we can all find ways to make a difference. Right where we are.

What will you do?

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