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March 19, 2005


A Planning Model and a Planning System
John Rupe

When the new planning rule was in it's early stages of development, I was in a small group of planners who got together to figure out and prototype what a Forest Plan should look like.  This is what eventually evolved into a couple of "concept books" about a three-part articulated (and integrated) plan and some adaptive principals about planning.  You can find them at this link:

http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/model.html

Although our group of planners weren't researchers, we tried to review how planning is done in large organizations, as well as how the profession of land planning is used in other contexts such as county planning, urban planning, and community planning.  We found several themes that seemed to be repeated.  Plus, I keep coming across this stuff in many different places over and over.

For instance, we looked at some of the work of Michael Chandler, who is retired from Virginia Tech, about community planning.  He said that instead of beginning a planning process with a listing of issues, you should begin with a visioning exercise to craft a picture or image of what the community intends to make of itself.  This vision then becomes a rallying point or goal to be achieved.

The idea of an articulated plan matches the urban planning model, that starts with a comprehensive master plan, follows with a zoning plan (although recent models tend to be less precise with their mapping), and finally with specific plans such as historical preservation, parks and open space planning, building codes, etc.

The nice thing about this model is you start to think about "levels" of plans that have different purposes, different shelf lives, and different approaches in how they can be developed collaboratively. In application to forest planning, it provides accessibility to different audiences, and may help situations where we've got some people in the room wanting to draw maps where the campground should be while others are debating whether camping should even be a permitted use in the particular forest, while others want to talk about what color to paint the outhouses. 

Finally, the entire system is intended to be flexible and adaptable, which is another important theme in this model.

Posted by John Rupe on March 19, 2005 at 09:49 AM | Permalink

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