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May We all Grow Together: Cultivating Support for Utah’s Emerging Planners

February 24, 2022 by admin
Policy/Legislative

By: Jordan Katcher, Community Development Specialist, Utah Workforce Services Housing and Community Development

 

Did you know that a seed over one hundred years old can still sprout? Combined with the right season, healthy soil, access to sunlight and consistent watering, centuries-old seeds can emerge and bring new life into the world.

 

Seed saving, the practice of saving various types of reproductive material and seeds from plants for a later date, is the perfect metaphor for the Utah Emerging Planners Group. While it hasn’t quite been 100 years (although it feels like it!),  numerous young professionals have saved “seeds” for years in anticipation for the day when a space could be cultivated for emerging planners to connect, nurture, and support one another.

 

I am both humbled and awe struck at the steadfast “seed-saving” that has happened over the years. Utah planners, such as Meagan Booth and Andy Hulka, have created Facebook groups and hosted monthly lunch meet-ups for planners; university faculty and students have advocated for more networking opportunities with practitioners from across the state; and recent graduates have expressed a desire to return to the planning topics that invigorated them as young students.

 

There are currently Emerging Planners Group (EPGs) chapters in 25 states across the country and we are thrilled to announce that Utah is now the 26th state! Current University of Utah Master of City & Metropolitan Planning graduate student, Joseph Shahidi, and myself, Jordan Katcher, Associate Instructor, have been working behind-the-scenes to ensure that with this new launch, all these young seedlings will be equipped to thrive.

 

From December 2021 to January 2022, we launched a statewide survey that received 111 responses. We found that networking, mentoring, career development, and planning hot-topic discussions were the largest needs for emerging planners. Most prominently, emerging planners deeply crave connection, especially right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The official EPG kickoff took place virtually on January 31, 2022, with over 40 members in attendance. One year, three year, and five year goals have been identified, and we’re eager to have so many hands caring for and tending to this initiative.

 

Thank you to the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association for the constant support. As more seeds begin to grow,  we’ll be looking to experienced planners from across the state to support the development of our emerging planners. Please know that as experienced practitioners, you have insights and experiences that are extremely valuable to our EPG members and we welcome your involvement and participation whole-heartedly.

 

If you’re reading this and you’d like to be involved in the Utah Emerging Planners Group, please email Jordan Katcher at jkatcher@utah.gov. Thank you kindly for reading and stay tuned for future EPG gatherings this year.

 

May we all grow together!

 

Jordan Katcher is an Associate Instructor within the City & Metropolitan Planning Department at the University of Utah and a Community Development Specialist with the Utah Community Development Office.

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