After the Planners by Robert Goodman

By Robert Goodman

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It would not, after all, be a new role for radicals if they became the gatekeepers or 'softcops’ for the system. The import­ ant thing is to learn, test, and if necessary, help to dis­ mantle and start again. In taking the decision not to go along with the offered myths of freedom and affluence. radicals are unlikely at first to make major changes in Establishm ent control, but can do something to lay the foundations of a new reality. Goodman’s book may not take us far along the paths of necessary change, but he shows in which directions those paths will lie.

In the case of the people with the “TO HELL w i t h u r b a n r e n e w a l ” sign, the last remaining holdouts were led from their homes by sheriff’s deputies and tactical police in late 1969. After being told earlier that they would be able to stay, they were forced to leave for a “compromise” plan of middle-income housing that was to include a token number of apartments for low-income people. As for the Cambridge highway protest, the road is stalled, at least until the next election. Meanwhile, many of the original group of pro­ testers have been forced out by rising rents caused by a severe housing shortage in the area.

Most practitioners in the planning field in the inter-war and immediate post-war years were technical professionals, relying on such skills as surveying, building, civil and public-health engineering and law in contributing, to the planning of cities, and therefore ill-equipped professionally to question the nature of their political role. The only wider perspectives, in a professional sense, were brought by the architects who entered planning at the same time. W hatever the standard of their art they were subject to the prevailing belief-systems, building monuments to corporate or civic pride, or functional environments with high social purpose.

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