Sustainability often has complemented my primary major, community and environmental planning, quite well. The two majors often share several themes from different perspectives; this provided a fuller academic understanding for me. One theme that is apparent in both is collaboration. In sustainability, coproduction of knowledge in transdisciplinary research is one topic of that has been fundamental to the sustainability courses. This means that people from different expertise and nonscientists come together to share knowledge, information and data to form a sustainable solution. In planning, public participation is an essential part to the planning process. Citizens work together with a community’s planning board and planners to help identify problems, vision the future, brainstorm ideas, and implement solutions. Comparing the theme of collaboration in the context of the two majors, the experts act like the planning board and planners, and the nonscientists act as the community members and vice versa.
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In the future, I would like to have a career in transportation planning. After taking a course that was all about transportation planning, I knew that this sector of planning was the one that was most interesting to me. The course went over everything from pedestrian traffic, to biking, to parking, to transportation of cargo, to public transportation. From the lessons, I found that I had a large interest in learning more about rail based transportation, whether that be light rail, mass rapid transit, or heavy rail. Going into a career in transportation is ideal, yet I want to make sure that the work that I do is sustainable.
One of the planning theories that I would like to apply in my career is transit oriented development. Transit oriented development is one sustainable way to seamlessly integrate in transportation, housing, commercial activity, recreation and community. To do this, a train station is often the center of a town; the station is surrounded by open space where people in the community can congregate. Surrounding the open space is mixed use development, or buildings with retail and offices on the lower levels of the building and residential units on the upper levels. Feeder bus lines will then connect the outer parts of the community in towards the central train station. The overall community is compact, has the essential businesses and housing nearby, and has a transit system that is inclusive to the inner city and accessible to other cities.
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Allowing a community to develop this way takes knowledge of planning but also sustainability science. As I mentioned earlier, collaboration will be a theme that will be important to the success of any project I do. My role will be both an expert in planning; I will likely be hired by a town to provide planning knowledge to the planning board and to the people in the community. I will need to facilitate with other experts (like engineers, developers, policy makers, community economists) to provide a richer scope to the development. I would then need to engage the nonscientist, in this case the community members. These people have stake in the community, have knowledge that experts may not know, and can provide creative ideas that are unique. Collaborating together, the planning board, experts, community and myself, will set a vision and create a policy that will foster it to become a reality.