APA VA wants to hear from you! As in every community we plan, there are stories to its citizens. As a community of planners, we would like to highlight some of our amazing planners across the Commonwealth. If you or someone you know has a great planning story to tell, please reach out to Robert Narvaez, AICP, Director of Inclusion or anyone on the APA VA Board. We can’t wait to hear from you!
I do not think being AAPI has had a huge impact on the trajectory of my career, but I do think that my career as a planner has impacted how I have looked at Asian cities. I spent my childhood going to Manila, Philippines where my mom’s family is from, but since studying planning, I have seen a handful of other southeast Asian cities. I think studying planning has enriched my travel experiences, allowing me to travel with a planner’s eye toward different urban systems. While far from a monolith, a lot of similarities could be drawn between some of the “megacities” I have visited like Manila, Jakarta and Bangkok. Though they are large population centers rich in character and of great importance to their national economies, many have dealt with the traffic and urban sprawl in addition to the environmental issues of flooding and other vulnerabilities exacerbated by climate change.
Going to graduate school gave me the opportunity to learn more about different Asian planning contexts, and write about case studies within these contexts. For instance, I wrote about evictions of residents of riverside informal settlements in favor of Jakarta’s plans to adapt to flooding and climate change, some of the environmental justice issues that informal waste picker communities face in Indonesia and the Philippines, where communities experience a diminished quality of environment and social stigma from accepting waste that they largely did not generate, and the issues surrounding Manila’s plan to phase out jeepneys, an iconic but polluting transportation mode, for electric, higher-capacity vehicles at the expense of drivers that cannot afford to purchase these
Public space, human-scale development, efficient transit and access to services/employment, all with the throughline of equity, are elements that planners need to consider across all planning contexts. This is not unique to the Asian context but is certainly just as relevant to it as Asia continues to urbanize and rural populations continue to migrate to cities. For me, my still limited exposure to Asian cities and planning contexts drives this point home and is an important takeaway for practice in the U.S. I think it would be useful for any AAPI planner in the U.S. to at least do a little research into the planning context of their native country if they have not already. Not only did it increase my understanding of the different dynamics at play in another context, but it also increased my connection to those places as a part of my identity.
Kevin is a recent graduate of the UVA Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning Program. He is interested in landing a role in land conservation or parks and recreation as he reenters the workforce. Before attending graduate school, he spent over three years as a land use planner in the private sector.