It is that time of year when we think about giving and receiving gifts. For those of you who plan ahead, you have probably already done your shopping on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. But if you have not, I would like to share my ideas on the perfect presents for the plannerds in your life. I have already mentioned some of the following items in my previous articles, but I thought it might be helpful to have a consolidated list. Also, I want to highlight various new products that I learned about recently. So here we go:
Generally, plannerds like me love to read and/or collect books. I may not have the time to read everything, but I want to at least have the books in my collection so that I can read them in the future or whenever I am able to. Listed below are books I highly recommend:
- Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990: This book contains the wonderful drawings, models, and images highlighted in the Overdrive exhibition held at the Getty Museum earlier this year. Overdrive is one of the shows I discussed in my article “Who Loves L.A. Architecture?“
- Never Built Los Angeles: This volume captures the amazing collection of pictures, drawings, and plans displayed at the Never Built exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum a few months ago. I also mentioned this in my article on L.A. architecture.
- The Art of Urban Sketching: I came across this by accident, before I even knew what urban sketching was. This is a great book for anyone interested in developing their observation and drawing skills. For more about this book, check out my review.
- Project Management for Planners: A Practical Guide: This is a book I recently finished and wished I had read earlier. It is a wonderful resource for any planners serving as project managers. There are many books out there on project management, but this one is uniquely written by and for planners. Stay tuned for my complete review of this book.
- Working with Planning Consultants: Similarly, this is also a book written by a planner for planners. As a public sector planner who works with private consultants regularly, I find this book very helpful and valuable. The author shares unique insights he has gained in a long, distinguished career in planning. I will be sharing my thoughts on this book in a future article.
- Museum Companion to Los Angeles: If you read my articles “Los Angeles as a Museums Capital: Part I and Part II” you know that I enjoy going to museums. I suspect that there are other plannerds who like to visit museums as well. A nice book for all museum lovers in Los Angeles to have is Museum Companion to Los Angeles. After all, it is the only comprehensive guide to the many museums and cultural attractions located in the L.A. region.
- The Skillful Teacher: This is a book that I found very helpful as I did some guest lecturing over the past year and a half (see “Teaching Planning and Policy“). I think it would be great for any plannerd interested in sharing their knowledge and experience to students in the classroom because teaching is not easy, and requires thoughtfulness and proper preparation.
Besides reading, most plannerds also love to watch movies, documentaries, and comedies that may or may not be directly related to our work. Here are my top picks:
- Parks and Recreation: Most planners are familiar with this show and many love it because it makes us laugh about our work in the government. I also mentioned this comedy series in my article “Parks and Recreation: Not Just Fun and Games“. Thanks to my wife, I have the DVDs for the first four seasons of the show. The DVDs are available on Amazon.com.
- Olmsted & America’s Urban Parks: As a park planner, I love this documentary which examines the life and impact of Frederick Law Olmsted, the visionary urban planner and landscape architect, on the development of America’s first great city parks.
- Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham & The American City: Every planner should have heard of Daniel Burnham and his famous quote “Make no little plans…” I think just about every plannerd would enjoy this documentary which does an excellent job telling the story of Burnham as the one who shaped some of America’s best-known places and spaces.
- Man of Steel and Iron Man: Obviously, these are superhero movies and not urban planning stories per se. However, since I enjoyed them and shared my thoughts about them from an urban planning perspective, I am including them on this list. (Check out “Man of Steel and Urban Planning” and “Iron Man and Urban Planning“.)
All plannerds love to learn and have a constant thirst or hunger for more planning knowledge. Course subscriptions may not sound like exciting gifts, but they may be perfect for those plannerds who want to learn more about certain topics or prepare for the certification exam. Planetizen offers a variety of online courses which are convenient for planners too busy to attend classes in person. I have personally taken a few of the courses and found them to be very helpful. Highlighted below are just some of the courses offered by Planetizen (for a complete listing, be sure to check out Planetizen’s website):
- AICP Exam Preparation Course: To become a certified planner, one must pass the exam offered by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). As I shared in my article “Any Idiot Can Plan?” I highly recommend Planetizen’s online course to anyone preparing to take the exam. In my opinion, it is very difficult for someone to prepare on their own without the structure, guidance, and resources found in a course like this.
- Drawing in the Landscape: Pen, Pencil, and Watercolor: If you are interested in urban sketching, you may find this course helpful. There is also an introductory course before this one.
- Working with Census.gov: Planners need Census data, and we must know how to obtain and interpret the information. I previously wrote about the importance of Census data in an article “Why We Need the American Community Survey?” Planetizen offers three additional courses on how to work with the Census Bureau’s website beyond the introductory course on background and geography.
Believe it or not, there is actually a wide variety of clothing items for plannerds, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, ties, and scarves.
- Café Press: Café Press offers over 800 items under the category of “Urban Planning”! They range from a sweatshirt bearing Daniel Burnham’s face and his famous quote “Make no little plans…” to onesies that say “Future Urban Planner” or “I love Urban Planning”.
- Planetizen: Its online store lists the following items: neckties imprinted with detailed city or transit maps; T-shirts with city maps; silk scarves with city maps; and necklaces with pendants that are engraved on a cedar charm with a mini map of selected cities.
Fun and Educational Items
Here are two fun and educational items that I would like to highlight for those who enjoy model building:
- LEGO Architecture: As I shared in “LEGOs and Urban Planning” I grew up playing with and loving LEGOs. LEGO Architecture was not around when I was a kid, but I am glad it is available now. Although intended for children, I think even grown-ups may want to start building and collecting the models in this series.
- URBAN FOLD: I just learned about URBAN FOLD a couple of weeks ago and was so excited about it that I contributed to its Kickstarter campaign. (The project just got funded last week!) Essentially, it allows folks to build their own city using paper. URBAN FOLD may be described as a cross between LEGO and origami where flat 2D paper shapes are transformed into 3D paper blocks and art forms.
Smart Phone-related Items
Here are a few smart phone-related items:
- Apps: Just about everyone has a smart phone these days. It may be a good idea to give a plannerd an iTunes gift card or Appstore gift card (for Android device users) so that s/he can purchase the apps of her/his choice. I have previously talked about some apps of particular use to planners in “Smart Phones Can Make Smart Planners“. A few of the apps cost money, but some are free. (As a side note, there is actually an app called “Plannerd“; however, this is a personal organizer made for daily scheduling and planning, rather than for urban planning.)
- Phone Cases: While we are on the topic of smart phones, may I also suggest phone cases as good presents? A few months ago, I gifted myself a phone case featuring a map of Central Park in New York City. It is certainly nerdy, but very appropriate for a park planner like me. Both Amazon and Zazzle offer wonderful selections of phone cases featuring city scenes and maps.
The above list is certainly not exhaustive and just highlights items that I think are good presents for plannerds. We have all heard the saying “it is better to give than to receive”. I agree with these words of wisdom and believe that when we have the ability and capacity to give, we should. I think that most plannerds would not mind receiving any of the above items. And even s/he does not care for material things, most, if not all, plannerds would appreciate the thought and welcome some words of appreciation, encouragement, and support, especially during this time of year.
Christmas gifts from Kelvin Kay – Wikipedia