One of the existing controversies in the urban planning field is the demographic composition of American urban planners contrasted with the demographics of the communities they serve. Read about it here and here. There is a whole APA Division devoted to Planning and the Black Community along with inspirational leaders in the movement to bring more minorities into the profession such as Gisla Bush, also known as GiGi the Planner. We were fortunate to be able to chat with GiGi about this topic and her mission.
What is the purpose behind GiGi the Planner and your activities?
The purpose of GiGi the Planner is to aid with increasing the number of Black Planners in America. By way of this, one of my activities is to teach black youth about the field of urban planning by exposing, engaging and empowering them to pursue a degree in urban planning through workshops. My other activity is geared towards me working as a mentor to black college students who are pursuing degrees in urban planning to assist them with making the transition from college to the workforce as well as assist new planning professionals who are looking to advance their career.
Why do you think there is such a disparity in the number of black and latinx planners in the US?
I believe that there is such a disparity of Black and Latinx planners in the US mainly because they have not been exposed to the field as well as the fact being that they are both minority races inevitably there will be less of those within that racial/cultural heritage within the field.
How would the urban planning profession be impacted if the racial composition of planners was more similar with that of the communities they serve and the nation as a whole?
The urban planning profession would be greatly impacted if the racial composition of planners were more similar with that of the communities they serve and a nation as a whole because those planners would be able to best affectively make change within those communities. One way they can best effectively make that change would be through interaction that they have with the community that they serve. In most cases they would be more welcomed into a community because the community members would more than likely be more apt to embrace their ideals than those of another racial background.
How will you measure success/achievement for GiGi the Planner?
I intend on measuring the success of GiGi the Planner by the number of grade school students that I am able to encourage to become urban planners via my interaction with them in the workshops as well as the number of college students and professionals that I am able to coach/mentor through their professional development.
What is one tip that you would give to someone who is just getting into planning, either as a student or young professional?
I would tell any student or young professional that is just getting into the planning field to become a member of the American Planning Association (APA). The APA is a great association for current planners and future planners and provide a lot of valuable resources. Student members in college in any major can become members of the APA for free for their entire. Young professionals can also become members and when they apply as new professional members of APA, the cost for them is greatly reduced for the first two years and many employers even pay for the APA membership as well.
How can people help GiGi the Planner be successful?
People can help GiGi the Planner be successful by donating any amount large or small to my PayPal link - PayPal.me/gigitheplanner.
About GiGi the Planner
Gisla Bush BUD, MURP, CPTED Certified
Gisla Bush, Founder/CEO of GiGi the Planner, is a native of South Florida, where she currently resides in the City of West Park. She is an alumni of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Design with a minor in Geographic Information Systems and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the age of 21. Gisla is deemed one of the 100 most outstanding women in the history of FAU and was included in a book, Legacymakers: 100 Women of Distinction at Florida Atlantic University.
Currently Gisla works at the City of Pompano Beach as a planner. Outside of work, she is very active in the community and a broad. She is a division officer of the Planning and the Black Community Division of the American Planning Association. Gisla serves on the Planning and Zoning Board, the Education Advisory Committee and the Youth Council Advisory Committee at the City of West Park.
urban planning blog