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GIS Lab Spotlight

Hi folks, this is Nick from the P+MTR GIS lab! Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of helping a community redraw its voting ward maps—a job, I thought, that was reserved for political think tanks. But after years of GIS training, classes, certificates, and finally a GIS Professional certification, I felt equipped to tackle the task.

The municipality tasked me with analyzing the new decennial census data release to examine how the community is changing and whether redistricting its ward boundaries would be necessary. This involved a thorough analysis of the data, which required more than a simple factfinder export. I used Microsoft Access, ArcGIS Pro, and Excel pivot tables to properly join the census data to the geospatial block shapes, test configurations and make recommendations that served local goals. But that’s all inside baseball.

Next came visualizing the results. I believe that all maps and reports should be intuitive and easy to follow for readers of all levels. I stare at maps All. Day. Long. but most people aren’t cartography fanatics like myself… I chose an analogous color palette that would distinguish all nine wards from one another but not clash with each other. Each ward color corresponded to population bar graphs that supplemented the maps.

The result was a simple yet effective document that clearly tells a story with graphics and communicates the recommendations effectively. At Pashek+MTR, we’re about not only providing analysis and recommendations, but making each map, graph, and report tell a story for all people to understand.

If you’d like to understand and visualize data about your community, Pashek+MTR offers services to help break down and illustrate vital information. Change is happening in your community, and we can create a clear picture of what data tells us about how your community functions, relevant existing conditions and trends, its demographic make-up and other insights that will support informed policy decisions that directly impact citizens.

“Off the Shelf and Into Action” Promo Video

Watch authors and planners Denny Puko and Jim Pashek discuss how the implementable planning approach came to be and how planners can make plans more engaging and achievable.

Visit https://www.offtheshelfandintoaction.com/ to watch the introduction video and to purchase your copy of Off the Shelf and Into Action!

The book is available in paperback and is priced at $30, plus shipping and handling. Proceeds from the book sales will be donated to the APA Pennsylvania Chapter for scholarships and training.  

Jim Pashek Co-writes Groundbreaking Community Planning Book

After successfully introducing and growing Implementable Comprehensive Planning in Pennsylvania, we are excited to announce that Denny Puko and Jim Pashek are releasing a guide to their groundbreaking approach!

“Off the Shelf and Into Action, How to Create an Implementable Comprehensive Plan” is a 127-page book that describes the five keys to creating an Implementable Plan  . Additionally, it includes case studies and successful examples of the approach in PA communities. According to Pashek, Off the Shelf and Into Action is “the culmination to date of our thoughts as we rolled up our sleeves and engaged in the sometimes messy work of helping communities address their concerns.”

The book will be available in paperback and is priced at $30, plus shipping and handling. Proceeds from the book sales will be donated to the APA Pennsylvania Chapter for scholarships and training. “We didn’t write the book to make money,” said Puko. “We wrote it to provoke new and different thinking about planning.”

Purchase the book at https://www.offtheshelfandintoaction.com/ .


Welcome Nick Sisco!

We are excited to announce that Nick Sisco will be joining Pashek + MTR as a community planner! Nick will join Adriana Bowman, Jenni Easton, Elaine Kramer, and Jim Pashek in advancing the firm’s work in community planning.

Inspired by Ian McHarg and as both an outdoor thrill-seeker (climbing and whitewater kayaking) and passionate urbanite, Nick envisions communities that can balance both the built and natural environments while meeting the needs of all residents (human or otherwise). He specializes in GIS analysis, cartography, and graphic design. He believes that complex concepts and data can be easily translated through minimalist design aesthetics. 

Nick has over five years in the planning profession in the public, private, and federal sectors. He has conducted planning efforts in communities across the US and in Germany. He has a breadth of experience in the fields of green infrastructure and resiliency planning.  

Nick holds a Master of Community Planning degree from the University of Cincinnati; a Bachelor of Science degree, Major: Geology and Environmental Science, Minor: Geography, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and a GIS Certificate recognized by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  He holds certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is currently pursuing his Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) certification. 

When not at work, you can find Nick climbing at Seneca Rocks, WV, kayaking the Lower Youghiogheny River, or at a concert near you.  

Welcome Adriana!

Adriana Bowman, Planner
Adriana Bowman, Planner

We are pleased to welcome Adriana Bowman as a planner at Pashek + MTR.  Adriana will join Jenni Easton, Elaine Kramer, and Jim Pashek in advancing the firm’s work in community planning. 

Adriana has a passion for policy, urban planning, research, and sustainable economic and community development. These areas of interest have taken her from her own backyard to countries around the world as she has immersed herself in local cultures and languages and assessed and synthesized information to develop programs that can be analyzed and quantified. Adriana brings creativity, technical skills and knowledge of planning processes and policy to all her projects.

Her internships with the City of Pittsburgh and the non-profit Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) have contributed to her skills in research, analysis, and community development. She has collected and analyzed data for improving housing and zoning policy and interviewed residents and stakeholders to collect crucial perspectives. Adriana’s presentation skills center on crystalizing findings and translating those into policies for helping places become more sustainable, equitable and enjoyable.

Adriana holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of South Carolina and will be receiving her Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in May of 2021.

Elaine Kramer Passes AICP Exam!

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is the American Planning Association’s (APA) professional institute and provides the only nationwide, independent verification of planners’ qualifications.   Certified planners pledge to uphold high standards of practice, ethics, and professional conduct, and to keep their skills sharp and up to date by continuously pursuing advanced professional education.

Today we celebrate Elaine passing the AICP exam, which according to Planetizen has a pass rate of only 64%.  She has studied extremely hard over the last several months and it has certainly paid off.  Elaine splits her time at the office working on park planning and design, active transportation plans, and comprehensive planning for cities, towns, and counties.  She is also a LEED Green Associate.

Her skills as a planner have blossomed under the tutelage of Jim Pashek who has pioneered a new paradigm in community planning called the Implementable Comprehensive Plan.  Together Elaine and Jim have taken planning to a new level by focusing on community needs and implementable steps through a unique public engagement process.

Congrats again Elaine!

Township of Pine Performance Workbook Wins Certificate of Merit from APA – PA

Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA Chapter of APA) awarded a certificate of merit to the Township of Pine’s Performance Workbook, which was completed in 2014-2016 by Pashek+MTR.

Larry Kurpakus, Pine Township’s director of code enforcement and land development, accepted the award at the annual conference and awards lunch on Oct. 24, 2017. Elaine Kramer, planner and landscape designer at Pashek + MTR, who worked on the plan along with Jim Pashek, planner and registered landscape architect, attended the awards event.

 

Judges said the workbook format, with how-to check lists, cost estimates and project timelines, made it particularly user-friendly. They cited its creative organization and design as helping make the comprehensive plan “implementable.”

 

 

Pashek Lectures on Comprehensive Planning for LGA

Jim Pashek was an instructor for the Local Government Academy for a course offered this fall titled “The Role of the Planning Commission in Assuring Community Vitality.” His presentation included a discussion about short-term planning like development reviews and the updating of ordinances. Emerging issues Planning Commissions face include urban farming, mini communication towers, medical marijuana/Seboxone clinics and shale extraction. A representative of the Wilkinsburg Planning Commission added concerns about people renting out rooms in their homes for short duration which may have a negative impact on a residential neighborhood.

LGA-cartoonPashek also discussed long term planning responsibilities of the Planning Commission including the importance of comprehensive planning. He recommended that Planning Commissions seriously consider a new model for long term planning recently developed called the Implementable Comprehensive Plan. This process:

  • Focuses on real, relevant topics
  • Organized the way citizens and elected officials think
  • Devises practical and workable recommendations
  • Recruits partners and creates capacity
  • Gets local ownership and commitment to implement

 

A new trend in developing ordinances is the desire to address sustainability throughout the zoning and SALDO ordinances. Pashek, in collaboration with planner Richard Grossman, developed a section of a new ordinance for Edgewood Borough called “Urban Sustainability.” This ordinance provides credits for permeable paving, bike racks, buildings designed with sustainability in mind, charging stations for electric cars and other green initiatives.

Edgewood-Zoning-Illustrations2-small

 

New illustrations for the Edgewood Borough Zoning Ordinance