Samantha Ellman and Natalie Ikhrata are fascinated by urban planning, but even they understand why others don’t exactly share their enthusiasm.
“A planning commission meeting can definitely be boring,” said Ellman, a student at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. “There are zoning documents and all of this paperwork. The processes take forever.”
Yet the impact of urban planning is anything but dull, affecting everything from climate change to traffic jams. Ellman and Ikhrata, who are both pursuing Masters of Urban Planning degrees at the USC Price School, wanted to make urban planning – and its potential to make cities more just, livable and sustainable – easy to understand. So they created a podcast, called “Urban Planning Is Not Boring.”
To get that message across, the podcast connects urban planning to timely news events and society’s challenges. Over the course of 30 episodes, Ellman and Ikhrata have discussed topics ranging from natural hazards to affordable housing. The hosts often invite expert guests, including USC Price School faculty, giving listeners free, accessible insights into urban planning.
“We were looking for a space to get people to understand just how important urban planning is, because it impacts every aspect of your lived experience within the built environment,” Ikhrata said. “The reason why you’re sitting in traffic for two hours a day, or why bus routes are not as accessible or why housing is so expensive – these are not boring topics.”