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Gumbo vs. a Salad: Multi-Disciplinary vs. Inter-Disciplinary Neighborhood Planning
Maybe its the creative placemaking project I'm working on in Baton Rouge. Maybe I'm just hungry.
But a food comparison came to me when I was thinking about why some urban regeneration plans become dusty reports on a shelf whereas others are implemented and revitalize a neighborhood:
It's the difference between gumbo and a salad.
Let's start with the humble salad first.
Just like salads, however, these disciplines spend most of their time during the planning process like the ingredients in a salad, in separate places until they end up in the same bowl, touching but not really mixing. Are there internal team meetings? Sure. But most of the analysis and thinking is done separately.
Public meetings end up being similar to the moment when all of the salad's ingredients are put in the same bowl. Just before the public meeting all of the various siloed disciplines pigeonhole their separately-created thoughts into a public PowerPoint presentation.
|There are 320 slides because the answers come from 320 different silos...|
What I'm advocating for is a more gumbo-like approach to neighborhood revitalization:
Gumbo is INTER-disciplinary. And so should be your urban revitalization efforts.
Your communities and their challenges require integrated thinking from the top, at the beginning and as part of every solution in the end. For example, the obstacles you face bringing vibrant retail to your commercial corridor need integrated thinking. The transportation and traffic issues are NOT separate from the small business retail issues, which are not separate from the poor pedestrian experience.
The retail underperforms on your urban corridor because of an integrated set of issues.
New housing isn't being built because of an integrated set of challenges.
The catalyst for the regeneration of your urban neighborhood will be inter-disciplinary not multi-disciplinary.
Are you hiring a Team with a Salad approach to solve a Gumbo Problem?
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