I am sad to be missing the 2013 Placemaking Conference hosted by the OU Institute for Quality Communities. Not only are the speakers a hit list of big-name placemaking voices, but it also would have been a great opportunity to see friends and acquaintances that are all interested in this area. Sadly, other work calls and I cannot be there.
I actually feel more unfortunate about missing friends and acquaintances than I do missing the speakers. I’ve been studying and living this information for more than 10 years. It started in 2001 when I went to the Netherlands with my main civil engineer professor and geography professor. They still do this, by the way. I continued right after undergrad at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. I studied for 2 years under some fantastic minds in the realm of urban theory, planning theory and history, and environmental planning. The things people are listening to today were already coming to the surface in 2003-2005. And, since I’m so inherently interested in these topics, I’ve tried to stay as up-to-date as possible with them. Therefore, I think today is more important for other people than it is for me. Kudos to Blair and others for putting this together. I hope people realize how good they’ve got it today.
When I moved to Oklahoma City in 2005, the lack of knowledge about placemaking was astonishing. Some planners knew about it, but I probably couldn’t name a single engineer that knew about it. Unfortunately, I would be hard pressed to mention an engineer yet today that knew how he or she impacts placemaking. I wonder if any local engineers are in attendance today… Engineers are the people that currently drive much of placemaking in Oklahoma City today, whether they know it or not. They design the streets, neighborhoods, and developments that shape the way people live. They need to be in tune with what people want.
I hope today’s conference energizes people to get more involved. I really hope it moves people to get involved in backing planokc, the process for a new comprehensive plan for Oklahoma City. If you want change, you have to be the change. This plan will shape the next 20 to 30 years for Oklahoma City. Who will it be designed for? You have a say.