URSI 602-The Story of Planning

Jack Zipes, a professor of German at the University of Minnesota, is an expert in folklore, and has written (among other things), Creative Storytelling: Building Community, Changing Lives (1995).

In his book, Zipes writes:

"…it is important to try to instill a sense of community, self-reflecting and self-critical community,… to demonstrate how the ordinary can become extraordinary. The storyteller is in many respects like the big 'bad' wolf, a rabble-rouser whose stories are meant to incite, not to destroy, to provoke thought and curiosity; to point a way toward creating a network within a community that brings people together around the concerns they may have for the future of their children." (p. 6)

There are a number of planners who argue that planning is, at least in part, storytelling:

  • MANDELBAUM, S.J. (1990) Reading plans, Journal of the American Planning Association, 56, 350-358.
  • MANDLEBAUM, S.J. (1991) Telling stories, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 10, 209-214.
  • TETT, A. & J.M. WOLFE. (1991) Discourse analysis and city plans, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 10, 195-200.
  • THROGMORTON, J.A. (1993) Planning as a rhetorical activity, Journal of the American Planning Association, 59, 334-336.

The Assignment

Zipes describes at least 6 "genres" of storytelling:

  1. Wisdom stories (animal tales and fables)
  2. Paying the Piper
  3. Mythmaking
  4. Tall Tales
  5. Utopia & Wishing Tales
  6. Strange Encounters

Your assignment is to write a "story of planning," using any one of the six genres. Your story can be about "planning" or about planners, can be based on historical fact or be completely fabricated. But it must tell a STORY (and the story must make a point, although only a fable requires that "The Point" be specifically enunciated).

Your stories must be e-mailed to me by October 25 (I would prefer it in Microsoft Word or .html format). I will create a link and post them on the class Website by October 28. We will take turns telling and discussing our stories in class on October 29.


1996 A.J.Filipovitch
2 January 1997