It’s hard to believe that six months have gone by since I was hired here at The Grid. At the time of my interview in June 2013, I was working as a limited-term employee at the Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in Santa Rosa, CA and was bogged down in climate policy analysis and alternative transportation studies. I was taking my work one day at a time, so six months seemed liked a world away.
Initially, I felt that a blogging internship would be something I could easily handle on the side, and would serve as an opportunity to improve my writing style. Contrary to this, I had a difficult time balancing my workload at RCPA with the deadlines given to me by The Grid, in addition to the looming thought of my impending termination at the beginning of September. So, while I significantly refined by prose, I also learned a great deal about myself as a person in terms of organizational skills, time management, and communication with my editor Elizabeth Bastian.
I had actually considered applying to The Grid at the end of 2012, having found a job announcement for a blogging position on Planetizen.com with Global Site Plans (GSP). I was unemployed at that time, and was weighing my options between applying for graduate school and continuing my uphill battle towards finding a job in urban planning. Did I mention I was flat broke? So, having had no blogging experience and wary of taking on such a daunting task without pay, I decided against applying with GSP. But I kept reading The Grid, and one day decided to start my own casual blog while sending out more job applications before I landed my gig with RCPA.
My personal blog inevitably fell by the wayside once I began working, but I did not waver in my resolve to become an urban planner. While my obsession with cities and human geography had begun during my junior year of college at California State University-Chico, it did not fully develop until after I had moved home to Santa Rosa; and even then, it was still amorphous. But by the time I was halfway through my GSP internship, I realized that I had become a planning geek in my own right, and I was happy with that.
My favorite piece by far was the analysis of Petaluma’s form-based code and specific plan, two concepts that I had wanted to write about since the beginning of my internship. I had recently finished reading Jeff Speck’s Walkable City, and used his opinions on traditional zoning ordinances as the basis for my research. After posting the blog to LinkedIn and Facebook, I received considerable praise from professionals in the field, which boosted my confidence as a writer and a novice planner.
I would highly recommend this position to nascent planners who are trying to brand themselves, get out of their comfort zones, and learn more about their locale. The skills I have gained in WordPress are refined to the point where I can start-up my old blog again, and my knowledge of urban and environmental planning has skyrocketed. I want to thank Renee van Staveren for extending to me this opportunity to provide content for The Grid, and again to my editor Elizabeth for giving feedback on my blogs.
Credits: Images by Nick Danty and Michael Danty. Data linked to sources.