I have to admit that, as a planner, there are times that I get whisked away by the elegance of drawings and the process of making them, and there are times that I feel like designers are the leaders of the free world who can grant wishes because of the way we’re able to articulate ideas on paper. But drawings, models, briefs, etc. are just artifacts—they don’t tell us shit about the complexity of human behavior. They don’t inform us about the extremely social nature of cities and what the vibe is like on the ground.
About a year ago, I left my desk job at City Hall to pursue a life of observation. I wanted to see urban planning from the field, get in the mix, and leave the paper version of the city behind. I wanted to get to know Dallas by becoming a part of it, get to know my neighbors and how to use the city as a tool—that’s urbanism. Now, I work as a freelance urbanist. I’m in the city, seeing what I can see, and then finding solutions to fix the problems.