Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The view from the other side of the desk

One-time planner, now professor, Patrick Condon writes in his new book Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities:
The author once served as director of community development and planning for the small city of Westfield, Massachusetts. I clearly remember looking at the telephone on my desk and hoping it wouldn't ring. In my experience, the phone rang only when someone out there beyond my office walls was angry and had enlisted a city councillor, or maybe the mayor, to bring their dissatisfaction to my attention. I remember thinking it ironic that I was so clearly being rewarded for doing nothing. When I did nothing, the phone stayed silent. It rang only when I actually did my job -- angry phone calls came in only when I actually did some planning. This insight is crucial: the extremely stressful context within which senior city staff must survive is a huge impediment to change. Any model for advancing sustainability in North America must...develop processes that do not exacerbate those stresses. {25}

No comments: