At 19:30 on September 1, 2015, President Fang Fei appeared as a guest to Channel 3, “Changchun Live”, of theChangchunTV Station, where he elaborated on urban planning during the“transformation period”from the perspectives of current urban planning concepts, community planning, differences of traditional urban planning, etc.
Planners Must Go Out While Common PeopleShould Walk In.
Urban planning is an intricate disciplinary system. In laymen’s words, it studies our living environmentand human-environment relations, covering everything in the visible material world including houses, roads, squares, gardens, etc., andthe relations to natural environment which people need for survival.
Nowadays, urban planning is no longer theattempt to solve city management problems, but to manage the city well. Sitting in the office to prepare plans to describe city vision can no longer meet common people’s higher demands. Our living standards are rising. How to stop rain flood “eating”people, how to actually relieve traffic jams, etc. are what the city needs most on the ground.
So planners should set their boots on the ground and walk into communities to learn about these more realistic issues. They should chat with aunties in the community about municipal administrationandwith commuters about traffic. They even need to pull over manhole covers themselves to detect real and existing problems. They should listen more, see more and understand more. They can also disseminate new planning philosophies and ideas and urban construction concepts to each and every resident. I think it more effective than answering common people’s questions forwarded by the 12345, because planning itself is a social practice, and urban planners should be social workers.
Take theChangchun Railway Station as an example. Through interviews, we may find that peddlers, travelers, taxi drivers, traffic policemen on duty, or sanitation workers all have various ideas of their own about urban construction in our city, for instance, separation of pedestrians and vehicles, building overpasses, clarifying bus stop signs, widening streets, etc. In fact, anyone expressing his/her ideas and making suggestions about railway station traffic is participating in urban planning. We should view it with a positive and active attitude, for it is what we wish to hear fromthe common people.
All railway stations across Chinaare areas with complicated traffic conditions. Prosperity is likely to cause traffic congestions at the same time. We are building an underground hub of comprehensive transport to the south of the railway station, and we will channel in some buses and turn it into a transfer center at the south station of the railway station in the future. What I want to say here is that traffic solutions should be subject to more communication and exchange with common people so that thepeople know that we are working to resolve the problem.
So, once again, I want to stress that one of the very important things in urban planning is to take the implementation plan to thecommunity, to the common people, to the street, to the railway station… to let people know what we are planning to do and what needs to be improved. It is very critical. Even after we finished building the transport hub, we still need to further improve a series of things like bus stop signs we mentioned just now. Maybethese details aboutthe city are related to aesthetics, design, social psychology, international standards formation, etc. Though planners cannot solve everything, urban details can best reflect the humanistic care of a city. If city builders, administrators, artists, and even the common people can involvethemselves in it, andpeoplefrom all walks of life express their wishes, these problems will be more prone to be resolved. These dribs and drabs tiny things should be our common focuses to make our city more beautiful. So planners should go out, not only to the live broadcasting room but to those places more.
Meanwhile, we hope that the experts of theChangchun Institute of Urban Planning & Design will get active responses from residents when they walk to you for the purpose of surveys. We will share our plans with residents, and we may even request proposals fromthe public, drawing plans together on the street and online. Now Wuhan is engaged in a “Public-regulated Wuhan” program, where all people make plans like crowd-funding. In fact, our institute is keen on such work to exchange ideas withyou all online. Of course we also hope that everybody online will interact with professionals in a rational manner and thinking instead of swearing and pointing fingers. Swears cannot solve problems. We should take conducive attitudes because we all wish our city well.
Doing Community Planning with Common Peopleand Everybody Is a Planner.
Now community is the smallest social unit. Probably you don’t feel it. We talked about community just now, where there is no leadership and there is more residents’ autonomy, so it requires that residents havethe self-management capacity. Of course, thegovernmentshall beresponsible for inputs andfor infrastructure building, big urban administration, etc., but more possibilities are subject to motivating common people. So we need to go into communities and renovate communities with residents. Then we will seek governmentand social resourcesforimprovements. In case of spending, we should spend money to the point to really address the aspects in need of improvement in the commonest life, but not on the things imagined in our brains.
Now common peopleareusuallyconcerned about such social management activities like water, electricity, gas, heat, property management, etc. They are related to planning but not directly. In fact, the essence of modern social administration doesn’t mean who should manage whom, but, instead, we should work together in themanagement. Especially at the community level, you cannot pinpoint this is thegovernment’s responsibility, and that is that department’s responsibility. Residents haveresponsibilitiesof their own. Self-management is also a big issue. For instance, there is garbage everywhere. Do we have to do with it? Another example, after walking dogs, shouldthe dog owners pick up dog excrement? All these things are beyond urban planning, but urban planning should pay attention to these things. We wish to reach a consensus with residents and identify the roots of the problems. Then we work together to find social solutions, economic solutions and policy solutions. Which policies should be promulgated by thegovernment? Which economic solutions should be corporate responsibility? Which institutional solutions should be worked out by us for win-win? These arethe keys.
So, on the whole, planning should approach common people. Our institute publishes a magazine called “EudemoniaCity”. Our editor-in-chief once mentioned if we can write a letter entitled “An Apology from the City”. It actually refers to our professional planners’ professional self-reflection andself-examination to detect if there is anything we have failed to do well.
Visitingthe Guilin Road shopping area, you’ll see all sorts ofpeoplewith varied social roles, mainly summarized as three types: store owners, small proprietorsand window-shoppers. Different groups have different social demands and all thepeople’s interest is not entirely the same. Planners or city administrators should deal with things like this to find a balance.
Places with more prosperity will be faced with more chaotic traffic. Traffic congestion is by no means related only to the traffic administration, nor can it be solved simply by building roads and bridges, or by dismantling houses and widening roads. Wider roads will have more vehicles running on them. We have built the“two-horizontal and three-vertical” express ways, where there are traffic jams during rush hours. Traffic problem belongs to all people. Now everybody wants to drive, even to buy a bottle of soya source. This is a problem of social consumption psychology.
In places like Guilin Road, peopleshould learn to moderate and kind. It is a rather appropriate travelling method bye bus, taxi or simply walking. Urban space is limited and we cannot afford to build parking lots endlessly. We areexploring multi-dimensional planning methods, for instance, night operation streets, day parting pedestrian streets, etc. Of course what’s more important is to change travel methods. We suggest that everybody choose the green travel model in business areas. We are going all out to develop public transport, includingthe metro line 1 and line 2 under construction, and optimum combinations and regular traffic routes. All this needs planners, constructers, public transporters andgovernmentadministrators to work together, and it needs every resident’s involvement.
When we plan for communities, we hope to make plans together withyou all. In fact, urban culture relies on each and every resident with cultural taste for self-operation. The involvement of planners andthegovernment aims at creating a cultural atmosphere and provide more convenience for the entire city so that our city will become more characteristic and charming.
We organized an event of“Happy Fair” on Peony Street, which was well responded to. Dozens of the participating store owners and their salespersons have one consensus that “the community belongs to us all, and if we don’t do it, who will?” Some of the stores served as very good leaders and made our team connect well with them. Now our institute has leased an office on the Xikang Road Community, which is named by us “base for advancing community planning”. Planners and store owners and residents work and live together. They can truly understandthe community situations and activate the surrounding resources. We wonder if we can turn the small street into a pedestrian street and cultural creation street.
I think that the event has brought those city dwellers and store owners who wish to improve their community environment, their life and their operation environment together. Urban planning should be done in life and in practice. So, gradually, it will continue to upgrade. In the future, the Happy Fair will go on, one session after another. We may do it in Chaoyang District, or transfer it to other districts. We may take it to rural areas and turn it into a small wet marketfor small farmers. It is our expectation that this market mode will turn scattered and unorganized communities into communities with core values and common operation concepts. We will upgrade communities with basic organizations and lead thepeople to think together about how to grow and become self-operated communities in the real sense.
Maybe one day, people do not need us to lead in the Happy Fair. Communities become leading actors and we play the supporting part. Common residents organize themselves in in-depth cultural activities. It reflects the citizen quality required in a mature and modern society. Our planners willwalk into communities and work withyou all to make our communities better and better.
Now our planning institute does not have sufficient manpower to go into communities, but we will select some typical communities and work withyou to jointly build community atmospheres. The community demands foryour responsibility as well as mine. It is the most common value to jointly build communities in community planning.
Planning needs formulating withyou all. Everybody is a planner. Our institute, theChangchun Institute of Urban Planning & Design, is recruiting public-good planners. If youare interested in urban planning andhave ideas about community development, we expect you to join our team of public-good planners.