Why I'm Determined to Embrace My Creative Side (And you should too)

Earlier this week I attended a fantastic talk entitled "What Makes Us Creative", delivered by a brilliant creative mind: Bob Mytton.

Now, I went into this talk with my head full of grand ideas; this was the talk that would inspire me, this was the event that would prompt a glorious new project, this would be the catalyst for a fresh, improved, artistically wonderful Phoebe Hookway!

Unsurprisingly, this wasn't quite the case.

Instead, I left with a new understanding of how essential creativity is to our everyday lives – and a refreshed perspective on its place within the Town Planning sector...

Creativity and Town Planning

Before becoming a recruitment consultant at Thatcher Associates, I trained as a Town Planner and earned a BA Hons in Architecture and Planning. Believe it or not, I'm even RTPI accredited.

I understand that for many within the Planning sector, it can often be difficult to balance responsibilities within frameworks with the desire to engage in the design process. However, I firmly believe that this is a balancing act which is crucial to the continued success of the profession.

"The Planning System is not simply about scrutiny, but instead should be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which people live their lives."*
In the RTPI convention speech 2013*, there was a strong emphasis on the creativity inherent in Town Planning professionals. As "creative and visionary" individuals, planners should take pride in what they do, utilising their natural ingenuity to deliver growth and development and "produce creative and innovative strategies and solutions".

Dynamic Process

Effective planning has been described as a "dynamic process", involving planners, businesses, community leaders and citizens. With the aim of developing varied and interesting cities, the focus is on high quality of life benefits.

With the rise in a new system of strategic urban planning (dubbed the "Creative City"), planners are encouraged to consider how people think, plan and act creatively within their cities. The aim is to balance cultural and technical creativity, encompassing all aspects of modern urban life. In his 2000 book The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, Charles Landry splits the creative city into hardware and software. Defining hardware as buildings, streets and areas, and software as the thinkers, creators and innovators behind them, Landry proposes that the fusion of these two aspects is the key to continued growth and innovation.

So What Does This Mean For Town Planners?

Marilyn Higgins and James Morgan advanced the idea that a creative mind-set is key for successful planners. In order to develop original, vibrant cities, liveable spaces and innovative systems, those within Town Planning must hone their creative vision, aesthetic awareness and understanding of impactful design.

"The work, design and techniques used in urban planning should be as varied as the cities they're used in." - Creative Urban Projects (CUP)**

Back To Me (And Bob Mytton)

Bob Mytton, whilst not aware of where my thoughts went during his talk, certainly delivered strongly significant points on the continued curation of our creativity. Stressing the importance of personal projects, Mytton argued that it was the process behind a project that counted – it's about prompting new thinking, new discussions, ideas and connections.

For Town Planners, this is an important thing to remember. The sector is always seeking talented and skilled individuals in order to achieve the creativity necessary for the relevant growth and development. Taking on a personal project to encourage your innovative side is a great way to improve your ability to make lateral connections, generate ideas and push yourself outside of your work environment.

For me, this is doubly important. My key goal this year is generate meaningful discussions with my network, in order to forge real relationships with those I deal with. Getting involved with our twitter account (@TA_PropertyTeam in case you fancy following) and keeping an eye out for valuable industry talks, I'm trying to think openly about the ways in which I can help job seekers within Town Planning.

Planners, why not embrace your creativity this year?