Eight “need to know” terms to brush up on your plannerese


  1. Share economy
  • What it is: A new form of trade, enabled by innovations in technology and data, where owners can share their assets (car, spare room, power tools, etc.) with a customer who desires to rent or borrow it.   Prominent examples include Divvy, Uber, and Airbnb.
  • Why planners need to know: Implications may include locating and funding new types of bike infrastructure, zoning amendments for temporary housing, and an array of other regulatory and taxing issues for municipalities. In addition to the well-known ride share systems, Uber and Lyft are proposing ride share shuttles- a new option for transit.
  1. Participatory budgeting
  • What it is: Community members are directly involved in deciding how to spend public dollars through a deliberately democratic process.
  • Why planners need to know: Participatory Budgeting started in Brazil in 1989 and has spread to over 1500 budget processes across the world including Chicago and New York where residents have successfully worked together to select priority projects and have allocated millions of dollars in public funds.
  1. Maker movement
  • What it is: It is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers, and crafters who focus on creating hard goods.  Technology has connected them and their products to a worldwide market through sites such as Etsy.
  • Why planners need to know: Innovative public private partnerships such as the one between Etsy and Rockford, Illinois, have created opportunities for entrepreneurs through training and incubators.  The partnerships have the potential to achieve several goals including workforce development, business creation, and decreasing downtown vacancy rates.
  1. Tactical urbanism
  • What it is: Quick, low cost interventions that aim to make visible improvements to a city.
  • Why planners need to know: Tactical urbanism are quickly becoming a method of choice for innovative citizens, local governments, and even private developers who understand their power and efficiency. With programs such as Better Block, Park(ing) Day, and Streateries, tactical urbanism can inspire longer-term changes, prove a concept through pilot programs, and/or help to visualize potential.
  1. Creative placemaking
  • What it is: Creative placemaking uses arts and culture to amplify the unique character of an area often by activating underutilized public space.
  • Why planners need to know: It is an important tool to enhance vibrancy in neighborhoods and districts. It may include special events, art installations, interactive exhibits and more.  Creative placemaking is collaborative and is most successful when residents, business owners, artists and designers are involved.
  1. Net Zero
  1. Crowdfunding
  • What it is: Crowdfunding leverages individual donations to create a pool of money for a project or initiative and is typically advertised and collected via the internet. Kickstarter is one popular example of a crowdfunding site.
  • Why planners need to know: Crowdfunding is a way to fund planning activities and plan implementation as those who benefit from or believe in the project are invited to contribute directly to its funding.   Examples include everything from a giant slip and slide to a multipurpose community center.
  • What it is: An acronym that stands for “Middle Aged Men in Lyrca”
  • Why planners need to know: Planners love acronyms and these spandex-clad citizens can be an important ally for improving  cycling infrastructure and networks.