What I learned, putting together Why This Work Matters

I was thinking earlier today about how much I learned in the process of putting together Why This Work Matters — both in general, and in terms of the authors.  Some of the authors I’ve known for decades, others I’ve never met in person.  But they took up  my challenge to write in their own, personal voice — not their professional-report-writing, explain-the-zoning-code-or-the-CDBG-regs-voice — in  way that makes their personalities and their character (with a capital C)  jump off the page.

Here’s a few of the tidbits I particularly liked.  I’ll share more in the weeks to come.

Downtown Mansfield Executive Director Jennifer Kime on her sense of “community” during her formative years:

I was raised at the mall. Seriously. My mom would drop me off with my friends and we would hang out all day at Little Caesars, the record shop and the Limited.  Those stores were our gathering place…..

We didn’t know who owned or even managed the Little Caesars, even though we spent an embarrassingly large portion of our time there.  We were friends with the breadstick boy, but that was just good sense.

Piqua Community Development wizard Bill Lutz on his first realization of the power of local government, at about age 10:

It was amazing because I could see how decisions were made, right in front of me.  In fifth grade, we learned about government.  We all knew about the President and Congress and even talked a little bit about the Governor.  But, it was hard to relate to that information.

The school films that taught us about government showed us white men in suits working in big buildings.  City hall had none of that; there were only a few people in suits, there were no big buildings.  There were just people I knew making decisions that would impact the place I live.

Kimberly Miller of Allen Engineering & Science on being a planner in New York in the aftermath of 911:

The community of professional planners in New York demonstrated its resilience after the terrorist attacks of September 11 by directly engaging in the process of recovery.  My husband and I were among the league of hollow-eyed, silent survivors, descending into the subways for work while fires still smoldered overhead.  Surviving family members posted picture of their loved ones, and waited days, weeks, months for news.

Unable to lift those beams ourselves, we planners learned that at least we could point others in the right direction.  Many of us worked nights as map-makers for search and rescue missions at the Hudson River Pier command center.  New York Fire and Police rescue teams desperately needed maps of the World Trade Center complex as they combed through the wreckage for survivors.

To read more, check out options for getting the book here.

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