I am now sat in a rather shabby looking Louis Armstrong Airport. For the first time since last Thursday there are a few clouds over New Orleans, the weather and timing could not have been better with the French Quarter Festival giving the city a real party atmosphere over the past week.
New Orleans has to be one of the most fun, laid back, but inspirational places I have ever been. I have met a lot of amazing planners who are keen, dedicated and love their jobs. I don’t think I met a single planner out here who wasn’t enthusiastic about their work which is a refreshing change to many planners in the UK (although thankfully the real cynics are in the minority). And it is not like US planners are without their problems or cause for cynicism or complaint. Like us, they have seen significant redundancies in the planning sector; with many consultants are on short-time working, and cutbacks in the public sector (although the stimulus package is starting to reverse this).
I am very sad to leave, but at the same time looking forward to coming back to the UK and sharing some of the great ideas and knowledge that I have picked up over here. In particular the feeling that planning is a collective movement, a force for good, and a force for change. This is definitely something that we in the UK should embrace a lot more, especially when times are so tough and the future of the profession is being challenged more so than ever. That said, there are many young planners that I know in the UK who passionately believe this ethos, but I hope that this message can be spread to all corners of the profession, public and private, young and old.