What Is Planning?

Planning Provides a Vision For the Community Today — And In the Future

The goal of planning is to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people living in our communities. This involves thinking about how we can move around our community, how we can attract and retain thriving businesses, where we want to live, and opportunities for recreation. Planning helps create communities of lasting value.

While architects often focus on a single building, a planner's job is to work with residents and elected officials to guide the layout of an entire community or region. Planners take a broad view and look at how the pieces of a community — buildings, roads, and parks — fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Planners then make recommendations on how the community should proceed. One of the greatest challenges for planners is to imagine what can and should happen to a community: how it should grow and change, and what it should offer residents 10, 15, or even 20 years into the future.

How You Can Participate

Planning is successful when it is inclusive and reflects the comprehensive values of the entire community. How can you get involved? Becoming a planner is one option.

Another option is to provide your input to help guide your community forward. Often planners will hold open houses or community sessions to gather resident input, ask questions and help prioritize community initiatives. Keep on eye on your planning department's website or even Facebook page for updates and notices.

If you'd like to take an even more active role, you can consider volunteering to serve on your community's planning commission.

Planning in America

American Planning History Since 1900

Check out APA's interactive timeline of American planning history. Follow the evolution of U.S. planning since 1900 and discover how practice has both influenced and responded to changes in American society.

Teaching Young People About Planning

Encourage a future generation of planners and inspire civic engagement.

Materials are available for teachers, parents and community leaders. Host a scavenger hunt, meet planners and learn about the areas of specialization within the profession from transportation to environmental planning.

Toolkit, Curriculum, and Activity