Welcome to the virtual site of the Department of Community & Regional Planning.
I am often given a puzzled look when people learn that my family and I moved from Portland, Oregon to eastern Pennsylvania. Portland is considered to be a beautiful city within a region and state that are internationally renowned for cutting edge growth management and land use innovations.
As a former county planner from New York, I was in awe of Oregon's planning history with its demonstrable success in preserving farmland. It was a personal and professional joy to live in a city that actively promoted mixed use developments and alternatives to the car, affordable housing and emergency shelters, green roofs and bioswales, along with regional food systems and regional trails.
The public understanding of planning issues was remarkably deep, cultivated in no small way by a supportive newspaper editorial board, a cadre of reporters who focused on planning topics, and a pervasive public commitment to citizen involvement.
So here I am in Pennsylvania. I can't tell you where to recycle batteries. I can't access an elaborate GIS database for any address from any PC. It is not yet clear how one finds out about local planning issues - the media doesn't seem to think that it is a high priority. The roads are barely wide enough for the traffic let alone providing room for bicyclists and pedestrians. It seems like the engineers purposively time the stoplights so you can catch as many red lights as possible.
But, I couldn't feel more at home.
I came here to take a position as Professor and Chair of the Department of Community and Regional Planning (CRP) at Temple University, Ambler College. As an educator and professional planner, I love working with highly talented and committed people in both CRP and Temple's Center of Sustainable Communities.
These people live and breathe planning - their on-going professional work and research is directed at addressing significant community challenges such as the flooding of the Fort Washington Industrial Park, managing the Pennypack Creek Watershed and assisting Philabundance determine the best locations for their food pantries. We have a cadre of outstanding adjuncts supporting us in offering both undergraduate and graduate planning courses. Word is getting out about our programs
But there is more. Dr. James W. Hilty, Acting Dean of Ambler College and Professor of History and Community Planning, is providing essential leadership and support in developing sustainability as the focus for the Ambler campus. He envisions this place as Temple University's "Green Campus," a place where environmentalism is a fundamental aspect of research and education, the built environment, and daily activities.
Of course the Department of Community and Regional Planning has much to contribute to the concept of sustainability and we anticipate being a big player in this vision.
Another draw is the Pennsylvania Planning Association. It was their tireless efforts to expand planning education that led to the creation of CRP at Temple and the development of the undergraduate and graduate planning programs. Our ability to offer courses at the Harrisburg campus through video conferencing is in furtherance of PPA's goals to meet the needs of planners across the state.
I have delighted in the beauty of Pennsylvania. The stone walls and historic houses provide tangible evidence of American history - a rich context for daily life especially when raising young children.
It was challenging to decide where to live - the wide range of wonderful communities and housing alternatives is overwhelming. My family was seeking diversity in the schools and neighborhoods and we ultimately found what we were looking for in an inner-ring suburb of Philadelphia.
So in reality, the emphasis for me is not the rationale for leaving Portland, but the extraordinary possibilities in life as a Pennsylvanian. I am here because I am passionate about planning and am thrilled with the opportunity to develop Temple University's capacity to contribute to the field of community and regional planning.
Deborah Howe, Ph.D., FAICP
Professor of Planning
Chair of the Department of Community & Regional Planning