Podcast: People Behind the Plans
CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman: Making Change Is Relationship Building
This episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast series introduces listeners to CMAP executive director Erin Aleman, the first woman and first planner to head up the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Erin knows about the challenges inherent in working in large jurisdictions, but she’s learned from her work that small actions can have a big impact. She and host Courtney Kashima, AICP, get into the nitty-gritty of urban planning: how CMAP’s local technical assistance (LTA) program came to be and how it focuses not just on transportation but also housing; how the organization's On to 2050 Plan revolves around three core principles: inclusive growth, resilience, and prioritized investment. They zoom out from talking about the technicalities of planning to explore how an eye-opening college experience taught Erin to approach all residents from a place of respect — a lesson she carries with her even today.
[00:00] Erin Aleman: What I've found is planning is really a combination of an art and a science. That it's about coming up with options, and we may be able to pencil out the perfect scenario moving forward, but we haven't taken into consideration all of these local competing interests. And I always like to think about my role as, again, a facilitator. And how can you help illustrate what possible solutions might be and help people make the best decision for them?
[00:00:37] Courtney Kashima, AICP: Welcome to the American Planning Association podcast. This episode continues our series that takes a look at the people behind the plans, showcasing the work, life, and stories of planners from all across the profession. I'm your host, Courtney Kashima, founder and principal at Muse Community + Design, a planning and public engagement studio in Chicago, Illinois. I'm also a longtime member of the American Planning Association. Our guest today is Erin Aleman. Erin Aleman was named executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning in June of 2019. CMAP, as it's known, is the seven-county metropolitan planning organization, or MPO, for northeastern Illinois. Erin is the organization's third executive director. She is the first woman and the first planner to hold this position. Erin, welcome to the podcast.
[00:01:34] EA: Thanks for having me.
[00:01:36] CK: So being named executive director for CMAP is sort of a full-circle moment for you and your career. Tell us a little bit about that.
[00:01:44] EA: Absolutely. I started my career at CMAP as a Peters Fellow. So Phil Peters was the executive director of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, which was a predecessor agency to CMAP being created. And through that experience, I got the opportunity to go out and work with local planners across the Chicago region as a new planner. It was a great experience and exposure to everything from the City of Chicago to the suburbs to the exurbs here in the region, and gave me a full appreciation for what it takes to think about, you know, how do you — how do you work with a region that has such different communities? And so after that, I got a full-time job at CMAP and worked there for a little over eight years, and then left went to the state for a little while, and now I'm back. So it's, it's been really exciting.
[00:02:33] CK: So as you mentioned, you've worked for organizations where the jurisdiction is quite large — you know, one of the country's biggest regions and then the State of Illinois. But your work is frequently at a much smaller scale on a project-by-project basis or policy or program level. Share with us some of the impacts your work has had on specific communities.
[00:02:59] EA: I think that — you're right. Even though I've worked at the state, at the Illinois Department of Transportation [DOT], and I've worked on the regional scale here at CMAP, in order to make a change, in order to effect change when you don't have a lot of authority, it is about relationship building and working on the local level. So when I went to school for planning, I never really thought that I'd work for a regional planning agency. I thought that I'd be working at a community development organization, you know, thinking about, like, housing, or how do you shape a local block? But I found that, you know, the most impactful way CMAP can, can work with its communities and its stakeholders is to have those sort of one-on-one interactions and talk to them about how it's the combination of all of these little interactions combined that can help make sure that the region remains competitive economically, that addresses some of these bigger issues like sustainability, that doesn't know any boundaries, political boundaries, right? And so we've done some work in the [Village] of Park Forest, which is a suburb of about 20,000 people. We worked on their sustainability plan and worked with their local residents to figure out how they were going to prioritize sustainability at the government level, working with their fire department, their police department, their planning and building and zoning departments. And through that experience, we were able to help them figure out how to get grant funding to hire a sustainability coordinator, to help make sure the actions that were set forth in the plan got implemented. And then from there, you know, they were able to really leverage not only having that plan and having somebody accountable for making sure that they were focused on implementing the plan, but they were able to get federal funding to help develop a bike lane on one of their major thoroughfares. So thinking about how they get people out of their cars and it's, it's a combination of how all those things come together is really where I see the beauty in, in planning and working at the regional scale, too.
[00:04:54] CK: If I remember correctly, your work at CMAP was largely in an engagement role. Do you think that had an impact on how you progressed in various positions over the years after that?
[00:05:06] EA: Absolutely. I think that one of the things that I love about planning is being able to understand all of the complex policy issues or technical issues and be able to communicate that effectively to elected officials or to public stakeholders that maybe don't think about these issues on a daily basis. And so I really took the opportunity in working at the regional agency to understand all of the work that we did and try to wrap my arms around all of the research and analysis and find effective ways of, of making sure people understood how the decisions that they were making at the community level really roll up into these bigger issues and affect how we're addressing congestion across the region. And, and I've used those skills, I think, to be able to bring the regional messages or to work with communities across the state to talk about, you know, how important it is that we make investments in all different parts of, of the state.
[00:06:00] CK: It does feel like more and more, planning is almost a communications field. I know you've had some leadership positions in that regard. Do you have any specific examples of — I guess, does that ring true for you? And if so, do you have any specific examples of how that has evolved?
[00:06:20] EA: Yeah, I think absolutely it rings true for me. I think that in this day and age, in order to be effective in almost any position, whether it's a planning position or, you know, a complex technical field, you have to be able to explain to people why it matters, right? If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around, who cares, right? But I think every day, as we think about how we make our region more successful or how we address the impacts of extreme weather events, right? If, if we aren't speaking the same language as people, we aren't really going to be able to compel people to make the changes that are necessary to make things better.
[00:07:01] CK: In the same vein, the first time you were at CMAP, the organization rolled out a pretty interesting and significant initiative. Locally we call it the LTA program, "local technical assistance." And I'm less familiar with — I'm less familiar with it across the country, but certainly in our region, it was a big deal. It meant the MPO went from sort of a policy — policy organization to one doing more direct service. Can you tell us a little bit about your time at CMAP while LTA was being created and rolled out?
[00:07:38] EA: Yeah. And I'll add too that it, that it helped CMAP be less exclusively focused on transportation. The goal really was to figure out how you could work with communities to make sure that they were taking advantage of the transportation funding that they had. But it's not just about transportation, right? It's about getting people to jobs. It's about making sure that housing is planned for effectively, that — of all ranges, right? So that communities can have young people and old people and, you know, of all different income stratas living in them together. So the LTA program was really started — spurred by a grant at the federal level from HUD, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Transportation, called the Sustainable Communities Initiative. And that funding allowed us to really grow our team of planners who were able to go out to communities and take the regional recommendations that we were doing and figure out how you could make those relevant locally. And one of the big gaps that we saw in local capacity was just that many communities couldn't afford to have a community comprehensive plan. And so when they would start going after applications for funding for different transportation or infrastructure projects, you know, they hadn't done the baseline research. They hadn't thought about how it was going to impact land use and development patterns. And so the ability to provide communities with comprehensive plans and set them on a course for success was something that we thought would be critical to making our region stronger.
[00:09:14] CK: So in another full-circle moment, your first round at CMAP included Go to 2040, which was the update to the region's comprehensive plan at the time. And in October of 2018, CMAP released On to 2050, an update to that plan. Just curious personally and professionally, what's changed in that time and what impact do you expect On to 2050 to have for the region?
[00:09:41] EA: Yeah, Go to 2040 was really CMAP's first attempt at creating a regional comprehensive plan that included land use and transportation planning together. This region has a — had a history of building two separate plans, a plan that focused on people and land use and a plan that focused on transportation system improvements. And I think that's what spurred the creation of CMAP. The business leaders and elected officials said, how can we be planning for these two things separately? And so Go to 2040 was the first attempt at that. It really did something different. It looked at the policies that were hindering growth and development and success in the region. And so On to 2050 really builds on that by continuing to push forth this idea that in order to be successful, we need to work together. And it's built on three core principles inclusive growth, resilience, and prioritized investment. And the inclusive growth element, I think, is new and different from the 2040 plan. You know, we're at a moment in time where I think people realize that in order to be successful together, we have to think about building a more inclusive society. And in order to do that, my opinion is that we need to be more intentional about the decisions that we're making on a daily basis. And so I see our work, over the next few years, is really focusing on figuring out what CMAP's role is in advancing the On to 2050 goals and priorities. There are lots of them in there, but many of them are targeted at municipal partners. Some of them are state rules and regulations that need to change. Some of them are federal policies that need to change. So coming into this position, for me, it's about what do we prioritize and what can we get some quick wins under our belt and how can we position our research and analysis and our planning work at the local level to help move the ball forward, as we look into what's eventually going to be a 2060 plan. But I don't want to think about that.
[00:11:38] CK: Yeah, hard to wrap your head around that, but you're right, it'll be here before we know it. It strikes me that growth and success, the definitions of things like that have changed in the last 10 years in particular. And I'm sure the two plans serve as important markers in time for that. And I'd say across the field we're seeing more plans centering equity and inclusion and being more intentional throughout their recommendations. Why is this important and how have you done it?
[00:12:12] EA: Just a little question that you asked there [laughs].
[00:12:17] CK: Our pencils are ready!
[00:12:18] EA: Yeah, well, if I had all of the answers to figure out, you know, how to do this successfully, I think that, you know, we maybe wouldn't be here and we'd be in a better place. But, you know, for me and for where CMAP is, it's about, you know, trying new things. I think it's critically important, is that, what we've seen and what we've researched, is that the Chicago region is less successful than some of its peers, largely because it's losing middle-class black residents across the board. And, and they're going to places where there are job opportunities, where there are better housing opportunities, and like you said, we're one of the top three major metro areas across the country. And so we need to start thinking about how we, how we continue to grow and not lose population, and the strategies to do that really have to be making sure that we have jobs that are close to housing, that we have a transportation system that works for everybody, that we have homes that people can afford no matter what your income is. And then we start thinking about those intentional decisions, you know, and it gets into all sorts of other stuff that typically CMAP doesn't get into, but that we need to grow our partners expertise in too, is that there are many workforce organizations that are so critical to planning work and, and schools and education is important, too. So if we aren't thinking about how all these things are intertwined, I'm not sure who else is going to. So I really see that as a critical role of CMAP, is bringing those parties together and facilitating dialogue and conversation. So we're not always going to be the, the end implementer in any of these strategies. But I think that, you know, one of our primary roles and responsibilities is to bring those people to the table and say, OK, what's, what's your role? How can we facilitate the decisions you need to make with better data and analysis, and what's CMAP's role? And part of that is working with local governments to make sure that they have well-trained [plan] commissions that understand sort of the dynamics of not just their own community but the broader region.
[00:14:20] CK: Yeah, as they say, if it was easy, it'd be done by now, right? So I return to that maxim frequently. I've always felt like part of the secret sauce of planners is that they do understand the interrelatedness of issues and the unintended consequences of decisions. I think we're a humble bunch by nature. It does feel a little bit like this is our time in terms of data, technology, social media, calls for equity and inclusion. People are connected in ways they haven't been before, and we have the numbers to back a lot of this up. Here close to home, I'm inspired by the Metropolitan Planning Council's Cost of Segregation report. I'm wondering what you're seeing nationally, either by peer organizations that inspires you or partners closer to home. And if it makes sense, you know, what's happening inside CMAP and outside CMAP that folks should know about?
[00:15:22] EA: Great question. We've been looking to a lot of our peers, like — the Atlanta Regional Commission, I think, has been doing some really great work on equity and inclusion, and they have a local planning program as well that is an inspiration to us. And they have a youth council as well that they use to engage youth in. And I know that that was definitely something that, that I looked to personally when we, when I was at CMAP the first time and we were developing a Future Leaders in Planning program. But you're right, I think that the planners tend to be a humble bunch, and CMAP is a place where we've been able to use data to talk about the inequities across our region. But I also think that a lot of work still needs to be done inside the planning field in order for us to be successful. And part of that's having honest conversations about what we look like as a, as a bunch of planners and thinking about how we make opportunities available to people who are doing planning work across the country that may not be formally trained as planners. And I think one of the most interesting things about the planning industry that I was talking with someone about earlier was that everybody who I know came to planning from a different place, right? Whether it's sociology or education or history or cartography. Wherever you came from, there was a moment in time where you were inspired by somebody else, and you were like, "Oh, my gosh, there's this thing called planning? Who knew I could do something called planning?" And I had that, that moment, too. And so I think that, you know, as much as we can find those disparate stakeholders and help them come to planning earlier, we will be more successful in recruiting a diverse talent pool for us to be able to make changes and implement the, the local planning efforts that, that communities want to see happen as well.
[00:17:13] CK: So it is a special responsibility, the way I understand what you're talking about, that because we impact the built environment, we have to consider the folks we serve. But that does kind of start with looking in the mirror, making sure our collective staff are representative of the communities where we work. I think it's one of those issues that part of it is easy, but part of it's hard. Would you agree that some of it's easy and some of it's hard, and if so, in a leadership position, how can you bring about that change?
[00:17:48] EA: That is, I think, one of the toughest things that I've been grappling with as a new leader. So I've been on the job for six months, and I've been thinking a lot about how to be more intentional. And I think my experience in working directly in communities, facilitating community meetings — you know, I've always looked at my role and responsibility as, yeah, I might be an expert on paper, but I don't actually know what it feels like to feel like the way somebody feels like living in this community. And I would say that that perspective of mine came from an experience I had in college where I was able to go into prisons and teach creative writing and art classes through this lovely professor who just passed away, Buzz Alexander, and his wife, Janie Paul. They founded this organization called the Prison Creative Arts Project. And it allowed students to go in and sort of teach people who weren't experts. But what I learned from that experience was really that communities were so different from the community that I grew up in. So the stories that people were telling, the theater workshops that we ran, the art that people [were] making was really about community. It was about the lack of opportunity that people had. The perspective that that — that opportunity gave me was really about how do you help — how do you help communities be more successful, right? How do you make sure that the opportunity is there for all communities? Because, you know, nobody gets to choose what community they're born in. Nobody chooses what their skin color looks like. And so the more that we can think about the — how where you come from impacts the way that you perceive the world, I think the more that you can be intentional about how your, maybe, implicit biases can be, be resolved or you can be more open to understanding, like, where people are coming from. And it might not be the same place as you are, but it's — you need to come to those places from a perspective of respect.
[00:19:55] CK: I really appreciate that. Sometimes I think of it as — especially as a planning consultant — that we may have technical experience, but we don't have lived experience. And we must, absolutely must, value that and incorporate it anytime we are planning for communities.
[00:20:14] EA: Yeah, and you know, by doing that, you create more sustainable solutions, right? And not just sustainability in terms of environmental sustainability, but that you are growing personal commitment and creating champions of the change that you want to see in every community, rich or poor. Right? You have to have those people there that are bought in and that are working on this on a, you know, on a daily basis.
[00:20:40] CK: So you mentioned an influential program and time in college. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you found planning and why you chose it as a career?
[00:20:50] EA: Yeah, I stumbled into planning. So, like I said, I had this opportunity that was really unique to go into prisons and teach creative writing and art and theater workshops. I also had the opportunity at the University of Michigan to go into Detroit, and I taught — my undergraduate degree is in fine arts. So I studied printmaking. And I taught after-school art classes at Detroit public schools. I got to sit down with Grace Lee Boggs in her living room, who is an amazing, influential leader who also recently passed. And she and her husband were influential in the Black Power movement, in creating change and, and advocating for Detroit. And then I moved to Cleveland, which is a great city with lots of wonderful assets and an emerging community of artists and people investing in downtown and really experiencing a renaissance. And when I was there, I was working at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and one of my colleagues happened to mention an urban planning program. And I knew I didn't want to be a famous artist, but I knew that there might be an opportunity to think about how you can use art as an economic driver. And so I had read this Richard Florida book —
[00:22:04] CK: It was all the rage then [laughs].
[00:22:06] EA: It was all the rage. And I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I'd never thought about planning." Right? And so I ended up going to school at Cleveland State University. They had a good urban planning program and I happened to be there. And again, it really opened my eyes to, you know, how do you think about things differently and what did I want to contribute to the world, essentially.
[00:22:26] CK: Are you from Michigan originally?
[00:22:28] EA: I am from Michigan and then lived in Cleveland for a while. My husband's from Cleveland. And then we've been in Chicago since I had my fellowship at CMAP, so 2007.
[00:22:38] CK: So solidly Midwestern.
[00:22:40] EA: Solidly Midwestern girl, and I think that the Midwest is best.
[00:22:44] CK: [laughs] You know, you mentioned a couple of important people in your life who really had an influence on you, and the fact that when you, when you get to be our age — I believe we're similar in age but I won't reveal more than that [Erin laughs] — you do start to lose those mentors. And one day you wake up and realize we probably have to become those people, through formal leadership roles or informal. What else have you witnessed in terms of generational change and that progression into a leader in the field?
[00:23:19] EA: That's funny because, you know, this idea of you're only as old as you feel, I think doesn't really hit you until you get a little bit older. And you don't necessarily think of yourself as a leader unless you sort of have these moments that are, that force you to think about them. So, you know, getting this job at CMAP was so amazing, right? I put my heart and soul into getting this job and had some good mentors who were helping me think through the interview process and what to talk about and what to highlight in my background and skills and expertise that would be valuable to this job. But then once I got the job, I had all of these amazing women leaders who are older than us, who have since retired from the planning field, reach back out to me and tell me how proud they were of me. And I think that was the moment when it hit me where it's — was very clear that. I now have a responsibility to think about, you know, my position as being a leader. And, you know, it's so new, but I think that for me it's an important role to be in. And I always have appreciated those people who've been mentors to me, thinking about how they always had an open door. They were always willing to let me call them and ask silly questions or, you know, just to have coffee. And so I've been trying to take the opportunity to to make sure that my door is open to young planners who are interested in getting into this field for one reason or another and help guide them to the resources that they might need to be successful in their careers. It's really powerful.
[00:24:53] CK: Well, and it sort of personalizes what we were just talking about: the importance of representation. So I don't imagine you applied for the executive director role saying you're doing this on behalf of all women [Erin laughs] or all women planners. But it only takes a few comments, whether it's from someone you look up to or from someone who looks up to you, to realize the significance and the responsibility. So, again, I think it's a way to personalize the importance of representation, especially for those of us who impact the built environment. Another important piece of the planning puzzle is that at its core, it's a technical field, but it operates in a very political environment. You've worked at a regional planning organization and a state DOT. How have you successfully navigated that?
[00:25:49] EA: Coming into the planning field, I don't think I had an appreciation and a full understanding of how impactful politics are on any community and in any region or in any state. And I think that my job at the state DOT and at CMAP, right? It, it's easy to solve these problems on paper like I mentioned earlier. However, you've got the dynamics of elected officials. You've got your state legislature, you've got, you know, powerful community-based organizations working in communities that have had this this history and that have the respect of other leaders. And what I've found is planning is really a combination of an art and a science, that it's about coming up with options. And we may be able to pencil out the perfect scenario moving forward, but we haven't taken into consideration all of these local competing interests. And I always like to think about my role as, again, a facilitator. And how can you help illustrate what possible solutions might be and help people make the best decision for them? I think a good example just briefly was when I was at the DOT. We had been talking about how you shift the mindset from addressing your infrastructure as sort of a worst-first scenario, right? There's not enough money to do everything, and then when things are in the worst condition, let's address it then. And when I was at at the DOT, we were transitioning to saying, "OK, but we need to maintain what we have. And if you maintain at an earlier point in time, it'll last longer." And that process of educating all of the stakeholders from the industry group representations that, that deal with pavement and asphalt, to the elected officials, to the local officials was such a process to, to say, "Well, you know, you don't just drive your car until it runs out of oil and then buy a new car," right? So, again, it's, it's finding these ways of bringing people along and educating them on what the greatest value is for them.
[00:27:59] CK: I love that example because I think of it as, like, there's capital P politics and then there's lowercase p politics. And a lot of the work that planners do is more directly impacted by, let's call it the lowercase p, meaning not actually people elected or election cycles, but educating, getting people onboard, coming to consensus to tackle shared goals. So I appreciate that example. And I think it's especially important for planners early in their career to find strategies to navigate those situations. I remember as a wide-eyed staff to the plan commission, I would get so upset every time a sidewalk waiver was granted [Erin laughs] or I felt some injustice was being had. And luckily, I had a couple of great mentors who helped me focus on the small wins, whether it's helping get a buffer or fence for a neighbor, building relationships to educate and come to consensus. I've valued that at the time and, and carried it with me to this day. What do you think the field of planning is getting right these days? What inspires you?
[00:29:16] EA: Well, I see a lot of focus, both from my staff but nationally as well, on addressing climate issues. And I think that there's a lot of opportunity for us in the framework of the 2050 Plan to use these data-driven solutions to talk about how communities can successfully overcome some of the challenges that they're seeing. You know, and it's a perfect regional and national issue as well, because locally, water doesn't care where the boundary of your municipality ends. It's going to go wherever it needs to get to. So these are the bigger-picture items that I really think that the planning field has been focused on and that CMAP, I think, will have a big role in moving forward, and we're looking to how we can help our communities be more sustainable as a region. Also thinking about greenhouse gas emissions as well. The transportation and built environment has a huge impact on, on our air quality and on carbon. And those are roles, too, that I see metropolitan planning organizations in the planning field really stepping into and finding ways of talking about — whether you believe in climate change or not, people understand that when their basements flood, it's, it's bad for them, it's bad for their health, it's bad for —
[00:30:32] CK: — their pocketbook.
[00:30:33] EA: It is bad for their pocketbook, too, right? So those are the solutions that I think our field is really poised to be able to solve.
[00:30:41] CK: If I'm being honest, one of the things that keeps me the most sharp on how to communicate these tough issues is the fact that I have toddlers [Erin laughs]. And I know you have kids, too, but on the proverbial evening rush of getting kids to and from where they need to be and thinking about dinner, all of a sudden they hit you with a question about burning koalas. Has that changed the way you plan or help you think about why you plan?
[00:31:10] EA: I think absolutely it has. I think it helps keep me on my toes in terms of how you explain some of these complex issues in simple, meaningful ways. But it also keeps me focused on the future. And, you know, unlike when I was at the state DOT, when you're dealing with people who — it's more customer service focused, right? You're dealing with the people who use the roads and — on a daily basis, and you don't necessarily have the time to take a step back and say, "Why are we planning for these large-scale infrastructure projects and how are they going to make traffic improved?" Right? When I'm talking to my kids, they're like, "Mom, why is there traffic? Why is it going to take us so long? Why can't we just take the bus to the place that we need to go?" And sometimes the answer is, "Well, there isn't a bus that goes there," or "Why can't those people take the bus?" So it gives me good perspective on why we need to keep focusing on asking the big questions, because ultimately we're leaving this planet to a bunch of little people who might seem like monsters today, but who will be, you know, fabulous human beings who are thoughtful and appreciate the communities that they grew up in.
[00:32:20] CK: I feel like you get off easy. Mine usually involves [Erin laughs], when we're sitting in traffic, usually involves some sort of helicopter component to attach to our car [Erin laughs]. So I asked you what, what inspires you and what you think planning's getting right. I'm also curious to hear what you would like to see happening more in planning.
[00:32:40] EA: Well, I mentioned earlier that, that equity and inclusion initiatives are big, and we're talking a lot about that in the office. I think that, that we need to think broadly, more broadly as a field, too, and that there are lots of people doing community development work. And what I'll say is "planning" — I'm doing some air quotes here — but, but planning, maybe not in a professional sense, in that they've gone to school for it, but they're doing planning work at the local level and they are making a difference in their communities. And how do we broaden the umbrella? I mean, our umbrella is big and we're very, you know, want to bring everybody into it. But I think there's room for more people and there's more opportunity to help those people who are contributing to their own communities be more successful. And so that's one thing that I sort of keep focusing on is, like, how do we make other people successful?
[00:33:33] CK: If people want to learn more about you and your work, where can they go?
[00:33:37] EA: Sure. You can follow me on Twitter at Erin Aleman CMAP [@ErinAlemanCMAP] or you can follow CMAP at On to 2050 [@ONTO2050]. We're also on Instagram, or you can visit our website, www dot CMAP dot Illinois, all spelled out, dot gov [www.cmap.illinois.gov].
[00:33:55] CK: Erin, I want to thank you so much for speaking with us today.
[00:33:58] EA: Thanks, Courtney. I really appreciate it.
[00:34:03] CK: Thanks for tuning into another episode of the American Planning Association podcast. For more information and to hear past episodes, visit planning dot org slash podcast [planning.org/podcast]. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. Have an idea for a podcast? Send them to podcast at planning dot org [email@example.com].