Darwinism Meets Planning: How to Evolve to Succeed

APA North Carolina Chapter


Thursday, September 28, 2017
2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.25

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Hit a road block in your community planning process?  Community unwilling to consider change? This session will explore in two parts how two communities –Cary and Greenville, North Carolina – evolved their planning processes and their community aspirations to embrace new visions for a successful future. 

As change agents, planners often find themselves in a position of dealing with unforeseen circumstances that impact planning processes. We also deal with community constituents and leaders that are change resistant in the face of challenges that call for new solutions.  Planners can take a cue from Darwin and natural selection by learning how to evolve to succeed. 

This session will explore these issues through the lens of two communities – Cary and Greenville, North Carolina. Both of these communities embarked on development of their first community comprehensive plans that were ultimately adopted in 2016 and 2017 respectively.  Panelists will share their reflections from both local planner and consulting planner perspectives on the following topics: 

Adaptation in the Process 

- Addressing misinformation and a vocal minority aimed at setting the process off course

- Responding to competing interests and rising conflict 

- Evolving the process leadership structure mid-planning process to address unforeseen circumstances

Adaptation in the Community

- Raising the hopes and aspirations of community members that had difficulty envisioning a successful future

- Finding the sweet spot between directing new development and supporting the free market 

- Making the case for a new land use planning approach to gain comfort with elected officials and town managers


Leigh Anne King, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Leigh Anne King is a Principal and planner in Clarion’s North Carolina office. With over 15 years of experience, Ms. King has served as project manager on a variety of public sector planning projects: comprehensive plans, land use plans, growth management plans, neighborhood plans, affordable housing implementation programs and ... Read More

Jamie Greene, FAICP

Confirmed Speaker

Jamie A. Greene, AIA, FAICP, is the founding Principal of PlanningNEXT, a national community planning practice. His work is focused on developing and facilitating planning processes that enable communities—leaders and general citizens alike— to think creatively about quality of place choices, considering the strong connections among emotional attachment, physical ... Read More

Nate Baker

Confirmed Speaker

Nate Baker, AICP, CNU, brings to Clarion skills in sustainable planning and code writing. He is currently the chair of the Young Planners Group for APA-NC. Mr. Baker began his career as a planner in El Paso, Texas, where he was a case manager for large subdivision and land study ... Read More

Meredith Gruber, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Meredith Gruber, PLA, AICP serves as an Urban Designer and Project Manager for the Town of Cary. She has been in the landscape architecture/land planning field since 1999, gaining experience in the private and academic sectors prior to joining the public sector in 2004. Meredith’s master’s degree ... Read More

Scott Ramage, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Mr. Ramage is a Principal Planner with the Town of Cary Planning Department, and he manages the comprehensive planning team for the Town of Cary. He holds a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he is credentialed with the ... Read More

Contact Info

Benjamin Howell, bhowell@townofmorrisville.org