Author Archives: Christian Lamker

Ann Arbor, MI

Planners for Future – or: how should we (re-)act?

The new decade starts in 2020 with intensified talks about environmental change, climate change and a global crisis. These challenges do not only excel the global dimension of human activity. They also exhibit the emergence and growth of strong social movements like ‘Fridays for Future’, ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and many more.

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New decade – new roles in planning (?)

This decade starts after much turbulence towards the end of the last one. Which roles should planners develop and take in a world of change, populism, ecological crisis, social polarization and a feeling of uncertainty? In my view, there are clear signs of hope: much protests and conflicts circle around our responsibility and the need to change our goals, our thoughts, our actions – and thereby our roles – as planners. The challenge is not to adjust some instruments or to find better ways of communication. The necessities go deeper, are more demanding and harder to imagine.

My own work has developed around the theme of roles in planning. From using roles to describe statutory planning processes working through uncertainty in my PhD in 2016 to analyzing leadership roles in local land-use planning and changing roles of planners in transformation in 2019 (see publications). This coincides with growing discussions on prospects beyond growth in planning (post-growth planning, see also www.postgrowthplanning.com). To add, there is another concern that can connect or destroy our joint efforts: the digital transformation of society, economy and planning. Some of this was seen as counter-force to growth-oriented strategies, but the sharing economy and large tech giants have developed in diverse directions. In the same vein as the traditional economy, digital is not better or worse. Planners are yet puzzled how to best deal with platforms for short-term rental services, e-scooters, ride sharing and alike as well as how to integrate augmented and virtual realities and digital social media channels of communication into their daily work.

This means planners are even more in need of strong roles to explore, to navigate and to lead the transformation in a digital world that loosens or loses its orientation towards growth. How do we (as planners) navigate and lead this transformation? How do we develop our roles as explorer, motivator and inspirator for collective action? The new decade starts with a strong ‘turn to action’ in planning discourse and needs much effort to update planning to today’s needs and to ensure that we all use our tools to collectively design spaces we desire.

A new decade – what opportunity could be better for a fresh re-start of thoughts and actions? My best wishes to everyone who reads this for a decade that can (and hopefully will) entail the change we all make together.

Unsicherheit und Komplexität in Planungsprozessen

Unsicherheit und Komplexität in Planungsprozessen

Der Abschluss meiner Dissertation an der TU Dortmund ist schon fast drei Jahre her. Seit wenigen Tagen ist die Arbeit ” Unsicherheit und Komplexität in Planungsprozessen: Planungstheoretische Perspektiven auf Regionalplanung und Klimaanpassung” jetzt auch digital als PDF verfügbar. Text und Seitenzahlen stimmen mit der Veröffentlichung im Rohn-Verlag aus Oktober 2016 überein (ISBN: 978-3-946319-07-8).

My PhD Thesis (book pubslished in late 2016) from TU Dortmund University is now available as PDF in its full text version. Translated title: “Uncertainty and Complexity in Planning Processes: Theoretical Perspectives on Regional Planning and Climate Adaptation”.

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Sechs Thesen einer Postwachstumsplanung

Die Diskussionen der letzten zwei Jahre und das Aufeinandertreffen von Postwachstum und Stadt-/Raumplanung haben wir im Frühjahr 2019 in sechs Thesen zusammenfassen können. Im April 2017 ist mir auf einer Zugfahrt im Münsterland bei der Vorbereitung unserer ersten Diskussionsreihe zu Räumen, Akteuren und Prozessen in einer Postwachstumssgesellschaft der Begriff “Postwachstumsplanung” eingefallen. Seitdem haben wir ihn im Kollektiv ausgebaut über viele Formate, unsere Facebook-Seite, eine eigene Domain und zuletzt Anfängen eines YouTube-Kanals.

Diese “Sechs Thesen einer Postwachstumsplanung” von mir und Viola Schulze Dieckhoff wurden in der vorliegenden Form am 29. Juni 2019 auf dem ARL-Kongress „Postwachstum und Transformation: Planen – Steuern – Wirtschaften“ mit einem Sonderpreis des Förderkreises für Raum- und Umweltforschung e. V. (FRU) und der Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung (ARL) ausgezeichnet.

The discussion of more than two years to bring post-growth research and spatial organisation and planning together is condensed into six propositions, awarded with a special award for spatial and environmental research in 2019.

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Raum und Würde

Raum und Würde | Spaces of Dignity

Mit Veröffentlichungen und Veranstaltungen ist die Arbeitsgruppe “Spaces of Dignity” im Rahmen der Global Young Faculty (vorläufig) zu einem Abschluss gekommen. Ich bin froh, in den letzten 1,5 Jahren hier viel gelernt zu haben, mit vielen unterschiedlichen Menschen sprechen zu können und ein wichtiges Thema – die Zusammenhänge von Raum und Würde – über vielen disziplinäre Grenzen hinweg beleuchten zu können. Die Global Young Faculty wurde auf einer gemeinsamen Veranstaltung aller Arbeitsgruppen am 15. März 2019 auf der Zeche Zollverein abgeschlossen.

With publications and events, the working group “Spaces of Dignity” within the Global Young Faculty (preliminary) finished its work. I am happy and proud about the opportunity to learn much during the past 1.5 years, to speak with many diverse people on this important topic – the relations between dignity and space – beyond manifold disciplinary boundaries.

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Obama Town Hall Europe

On 6th April 2019, I was invited to be part of the 300 younger people invited to the Obama Town Hall Europe in Berlin. It was a great honour to take part in these inspiring discussions. Barack Obama covered a wide range of topics from democracy in general to leadership and to communication, problem-solving, hate and social media. He did not talk about cities in particular and not about spatial planning. However, much of his talk relates to ways how we live together and what we need to have in mind when deciding about organizing our urban and rural spaces.

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Endlich Wachstum! – und dann?

Am 10. Januar 2019 durfte ich im Leihladen Bochum zu Gast sein und mit ca. 25 Gästen über die Grundlagen einer Postwachstumsplanung diskutieren. Die Diskussion war Teil des Rahmenprogramms zur Ausstellung “Endlich Wachstum!“, die im Dezember 2018 und Januar 2019 in den Räumen des Leihladens Bochum gezeigt wurde (www.leihladen-bochum.de). Nach einer halben Stunde Vortrag war die Frage für kleine Diskussionsgruppen, was Kernelemente einer wachstumsunabhängigen Strategie zur Innenstadtentwicklung in Bochum sein können. Hier vollzieht sich einerseits eine große Dynamik auch durch die wachsende Ruhr-Universität. Andererseits bleiben aber Defizite im Hinblick auf die Innenstadt als guter Lebens- und Aufenthaltsort. Gibt es eine Perspektive, die ohne wirtschaftliches Wachstum auskommen kann? Eine Perspektive, die gewünschte Veränderung ermöglicht, ohne neue Flächen zu beanspruchen?

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Corktown, Detroit

Detroit: who leads?

Some weeks have passed since I left Detroit in mid-August. But the city has remained in my mind with deep impressions and thoughts on urban development, fast urban changes and the striking question: who leads? Many actors are involved in spatial changes in Detroit, in a diverse set of roles. From my impressions, it seems necessary to disaggregate leadership to different roles with associated actors. A diverse set of people pushes Detroit forward, but yet with limited integration. The following paragraphs outline exploratory and open thoughts from my German perspective.

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Midtown Detroit

Detroit: who plans?

Ten days in Detroit provided me with some more insights into how the city works and what lies behind recent changes. Many conversations yielded deep insights, but also puzzled me with further questions and issues around the role of planners in processes of urban change and renewal. Time to wrap up some still preliminary and unfinished ideas.

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Detroit

Detroit: first impressions

The last four days between Thursday and Monday provided many experiences and insights into different parts of Detroit, its ongoing changes and its people. Not enough for any concluding thoughts, but just enough for some ideas. The following paragraphs are therefore some unorganized impressions that are preliminary, might change during the next weeks and themselves include more questions than answers.

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