Affordable housing. Urban design. Disaster recovery and resilience. Economic development. Artificial intelligence. These are just some of the topics APA's podcast delves into with deep curiosity, expert analysis, and affecting, true-life stories. Throughout every episode of the podcast, listeners of all backgrounds — from those ensconced in the daily challenges and rewards of planning to those coming to the field with fresh eyes — get a firsthand look at what it means to be a planner in a world that needs them now more than ever.


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Recent Episodes

Megan Oliver on How to Plan for Happiness in Cities

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Megan Oliver, AICP, WELL AP, founder of Hello Happy Design, discusses how the intersection of neuroscience and planning — called neurourbanism — can provide planners with the necessary tools to design places for social and emotional health. Oliver also speaks to the rising awareness of neurodiversity and how we can change our assumptions about how community members engage with the people and places around them.

Anaid Yerena and rashad Williams on Building an Equitable Future of Planning

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, JAPA contributors Rashad Williams, Assistant Professor of Race and Social Justice in Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh, and Anaid Yerena, Associate Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma, speak about anti-racist community planning concepts that lay the foundation for planners to reckon with history, disrupt the status quo and find new ways to pursue equity in every community.

Reconnecting Roots: Planner Jewell Littles Walton Uncovers Family Ties to Tulsa's Black Wall Street

Jewell Littles Walton is an urban planning and real estate professional with a career spanning multiple decades. She joins Dina Walters, a member of APA's Prioritize Equity team, for this special episode to share the story of uncovering her family’s connection to the early 20th century Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood was known as “Black Wall Street”, one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States, and was home to one of the nation’s worst race massacres.

Shain Shapiro on Taylor Swift and the Benefits of a Music Policy for Your City

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans series, Shain Shapiro, founder and executive chairman of Sound Diplomacy, discusses how planners can champion music policy in cities, as well as a case study of an American city that took a strategic approach to incorporating music in its long-term plan.

Taiwo Jaiyeoba on How Planners Can Lead Through Zoning Reform and by Crafting Equitable Comprehensive Plans

On this episode of People Behind the Plans, Taiwo Jaiyeoba joins host Meghan Stromberg to talk about leading zoning reform efforts in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, both as a planning director and in his current role as city manager. He also shares his tips for winning over naysayers and his thoughts on what makes a good comprehensive plan.

Robert Goodspeed on How Exploratory Scenario Planning Helps Imagine Uncertain Futures

In this episode, APA Research Manager Joe DeAngelis, AICP, sits down with Robert Goodspeed, AICP, to talk about how exploratory scenario planning can help planners bring together disparate stakeholders and variables to build robust plans that can help cities prepare for whatever comes next — be it rain, shine, boom or bust.

Youtuber and Planner Dave Amos on Teaching a Crash Course In Urban Planning, One Video At a Time

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast, YouTuber and planner Dave Amos talks about his own fortuitous route to the profession, why he’s telling the planning story in exciting, new ways, and how planners can lean into social media to connect with their communities.

Planning to Ensure Longevity For Small Minority-Owned Businesses

In this APA podcast - part of the Planning for Equity series - Bobby Boone, founder and chief strategist of &Access, discusses economic development strategies for combatting displacement of small minority-owned businesses. Boone shares how planners can work with small businesses, what to look out for, and how to engage owners.

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Embracing Heritage: How Culture Influences Your Planning Work

In this APA podcast - part of the Planning for Equity series - Daniel Besinaiz, senior comprehensive planner at the City of Colorado Springs, shares his somewhat unexpected and personal journey on learning to celebrate and embrace his Latino heritage. Hear how Daniel re-connected with his roots and applies inspiration from his heritage into his current planning work. Finally, hear how being a part of the Latinos and Planning Division has helped with his journey.

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Disability Advocate Rebekah Taussig on Built Environment Barriers You Might Not See

In this episode of People Behind the Plans we sit down with Rebekah Taussig before her keynote address at APA’s 2023 National Planning Conference.  She explains how storytelling has allowed her to reclaim the narrative of her own life and help others understand how isolating, cumbersome, unjust, and unsustainable our cities and our culture are for people with disabilities. Listen to hear her vision for a world designed with everyone in mind — not just those considered “average” — and some communication tips for planners trying to build support for their visions.

Critical Conversations in Transportation Planning: Misty Klann and Cole Grisham

In this episode we hear from Misty Klann and Cole Grisham, who are both closely involved in managing the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Planning in Tribal Communities Research Study. This research seeks to align available planning analysis tools with Tribal community needs based on a range of contextual factors, and to quantify the benefits of planning analysis in the project selection and delivery processes. The findings are intended to contribute to Tribal communities deciding how best to optimize the funding made available through the Tribal Transportation Program.

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Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Jane Golden: Planning and Public Art Ignite Change

Philadelphia is a public art epicenter — and not by chance. The city has long institutionalized investment in local muralists through programs like Mural Arts Philadelphia, a nonprofit created in 1998 by artist and executive director Jane Golden. Through more than 4,000 murals, the program has helped residents celebrate identity, tackle issues like environmental justice, and paint the change they want to see.

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Golden shares the community engagement strategies that help Mural Arts reflect the creativity, concerns, and perspectives of its diverse city. We also discuss ways planners can partner with local arts programs to infuse their projects with public art.

Critical Conversations in Transportation Planning: Tamika Butler

In this episode, we hear from Tamika Butler, a national expert on issues related to public policy, the built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, organizational behavior, and change management. The conversation covers a wide range of topics related to Tamika's research, which employs a critical race, historical, legal, and policy-based approach to examine how transportation policy and infrastructure have been used to segregate, isolate, and prevent the mobility of Black and other historically oppressed groups of people. Tamika is the principal and founder of Tamika L. Butler Consulting and a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

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'Arbitrary Lines' Author Nolan Gray on Zoning Reform and hitting Planning's Reset Button

In this special episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast, Arbitrary Lines author Nolan Gray sits down with guest host Jason Jordan, APA’s director of public affairs, to examine the cities and states charting a new course for zoning reform — and offer advice for planners navigating the myriad interests impacting land use decisions.

Critical Conversations in Transportation Planning: Judy Shanley and Claire Stanley

In this episode of the Critical Conversations in Transportation Planning series, we’ll hear from Judy Shanley, a Project Director with the National Office of Easterseals in Chicago, and Claire Stanley, a Public Policy Analyst at the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). Their conversation brings forth insightful ideas and guidance on how transportation professionals can reimagine how we plan for maximum mobility and accessibility in our transportation infrastructure and beyond.

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Philadelphia CIO mark Wheeler: Web 3.0 and Blockchain Could Bring Transparency to Smart Cities

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans series, Mark Wheeler, CIO for the City of Philadelphia, explores blockchain's potential, how it can provide transparency to the data collection that fuels smart cities, his advice for planners and where he looks for inspiration and innovation.

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Planner and City Official Nithya Raman's Vision to End Homelessness in Los Angeles

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast series, urban planner and L.A. City Council member Nithya Raman shares her vision for reducing homelessness. She also offers tips for working more effectively with city government, and explains how planners can use their expertise to educate and galvanize communities for positive change.

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Critical Conversations in Transportation Planning: Olatunji Oboi Reed

In this podcast episode, Olatunji Oboi Reed, founding President & CEO of Equiticity, discusses emerging research on the ways in which a neighborhood’s infrastructure can have an impact on reducing violence, and how Equiticity’s Mobility Rituals are increasing social cohesion and collective efficacy through bike rides, neighborhood walking tours, and public transit excursions. 

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Navigating Mobility Justice With Naomi Doerner

As a growing number of cities develop mobility justice initiatives, Naomi Doerner, MUP, is helping planners navigate these efforts to address systemic inequities and barriers in transportation. Doerner, principal and director of equity, diversity, and inclusion at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates and former program manager of Seattle’s innovative Transportation Equity Program, sat down with host Courtney Kashima, AICP, to talk about what mobility justice looks like in practice, including some inspirational examples from around the world. 

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The Intersection of Hip Hop and Planning with Michael Ford

In this special episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast, guest host Jason Pugh, AICP, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), sits down with Michael Ford, AIA, NOMA, keynote speaker at the 2022 APA National Planning Conference. In this live-recorded discussion in San Diego, Ford and Pugh talk about the unique connection between hip hop, urban design, community engagement, and so much more. 

head shot of Dahvia Lynch from San Diego County Planning for podcast

San Diego County Tackles Affordable Housing and Climate Change

Dahvia Lynch, AICP, the director of Planning & Development Services for San Diego County, talks about her agency’s bold plans for housing and climate change, an accessory development unit program that helped drive a 70 percent uptick in ADUs, and an agricultural conservation program that has permanently set aside nearly 80,000 acres. The agency is also taking a connected approach to housing and vehicle miles traveled, while supporting electric vehicle adoption.

Cascading Hazards with Dr. Michael Greenberg

In this episode of the Resilience Roundtable series, host Rich Roths, AICP, speaks with Michael Greenberg, Ph.D, distinguished professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. The two discuss the concept of cascading hazards, what they are, where are they more prevalent, how they are prepared for and mitigated against through plans at local, state and federal levels of government. 

Fighting Climate Change in Cities With BioDiversity and Nature-Based Design

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast series, host Courtney Kashima, AICP, is joined by Rasmus Astrup, partner and design principal at Danish urban design and landscape architecture practice SLA. Rasmus and Courtney discuss the importance of biodiversity and nature-based solutions to address the needs of cities to mitigate against the effects of climate change and specific issues like extreme urban heat. 

A still of the TalkingCities TikTok account, run by Paul Stout. Image courtesy Paul Stout.

TikTok's TalkingCities Makes Urban Planning Fast and Easy to Grasp

Urban planning is going viral on TikTok. TalkingCities, a popular account run by Paul Stout, distills urban planning concepts into bitesized videos. APA's Lindsay Nieman chats with Paul about how he got started, what planning subjects he's most interested in, and why TikTok makes his channel's success possible.

An AI interface overlaid on an image of a city street. Getty Images.

Artificial Intelligence and Urban Planning: What Planners Need to Know Now

Artificial intelligence experts Neda Madi and Tom Sanchez join APA research director Petra Hurtado, AICP, to discuss why planners need to pay attention to AI (hint: it's already being used in many planning contexts). They talk in-depth about the potential impacts on communities, as well as how planners can mitigate the negative ones.

Monarch butterfly in pollinator garden. Getty Images.

Philadelphia Is Transforming Vacant Lots into Climate-Resilient Pollinator Gardens

Planning and community health manager Sagar Shah speaks with Jen Mihills of the National Wildlife Federation and Samir Dalal of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society about cleaning and greening vacant lots in Philadelphia. The two provide actionable advice to planners looking to use similarly low-cost but high-impact solutions in their own communities.

A sign in a forest that reads FIRE DANGER HIGH. Getty Images.

We Need to Outthink Wildfire, Not Try to Eliminate It

With an unprecedented season of wildfires barely in our rearview mirror, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) veteran Michele Steinberg comes on the Resilience Roundtable podcast series to talk about wildfire mitigation and prevention. Her conversation with host Jim Schwab, FAICP, revolves around the NFPA’s newest policy initiative, Outthink Wildfire.

Cherie Jzar, AICP, headshot. Photo courtesy Bill Poteat/The Gaston Gazette.

The City-Making Process Gets Focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in This Planner’s Work

Cherie Jzar, AICP, has worked in a wide range of planning areas. Now she's bringing her expertise to a new initiative: building more equitable policies and practices as the City of Gastonia's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator. Listen as she speaks with APA editor-in-chief Meghan Stromberg about her work experience and takeaways from centering her career, regardless of a position's focus, on social justice.

People walking in the city, with the sun setting in the background. Getty Images.

"Feminist City" Author Leslie Kern on Envisioning More Equitable Urban Spaces

Author Leslie Kern joins host Courtney Kashima, AICP, on this episode of People Behind the Plans to discuss her latest work, Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World. The two explore the myriad challenges women face living in and navigating spaces built largely for a narrow subset of the population.

See Previous Episodes


APA Podcast Series

People Behind the Plans

Planners of every discipline share the impactful work they do. Led by host Courtney Kashima, AICP, these conversations illuminate the essential hows and whys of planning.

Planning the Autonomous Future

Listen to experts discuss how autonomous vehicles could (and should) fit into the public right-of-way.

Resilience Roundtable

Planners and allied professionals who make resilience their mission, even in the face of devastating natural hazards, share their stories and best practices.


Have an Idea for a Podcast Episode or Series?

Is there a planning topic we haven't covered that you can't stop thinking about? Have you become aware of a planner doing exciting work in the field who deserves to be featured? Or do you just want to send us a note on how we're doing? Send your ideas, comments, and feedback to podcast@planning.org, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.