Planner’s Pub 2017 with Emma Newman
By LiveMover Ali Lau
Emma Newman met with LiveMove at Tap and Growler on a cold January night to share stories over great food and drinks. Although I saw Emma present at many other LiveMove events, I never had the pleasure of partaking in an in-depth conversation with her. Luckily, I was able to attend the January 11th Planners Pub to get to know her! Although located comfortably in a snug room with ten or eleven other LiveMovers, I felt as though I was having a one-on-one discussion with her. Emma is personable, honest, and engaging. She loves her job as a transportation planner for the City of Springfield, and she is eager to share her passion with others.
At the event, we learned about Emma’s journey from her study abroad experience in Denmark, her time as the Safe Routes to School Coordinator in Springfield, and her transition to her current position. All of her experiences share the same quality; they all connected Emma to the community. She spoke passionately about the value of “getting out there and creating the change you wish to see” – whether that involves transportation, or not. We LiveMovers connected with Emma’s goals of supporting transportation-rich communities.
To that end, she definitely ignited a flame in me. As students in the planning field, we often debate the desirability of public sector planning jobs. The typical sentiment is that this type of work is not very desirable. Planning problems are hard (wicked, one may even say), they involve managing for human behavior, and people have the tendency to disagree. Combined with the rigmarole of bureaucracy, you are often left with sticky situations that seem unsolvable. But Emma disagrees. She loves working with people and is able to get things done. One of her biggest projects culminated in public access to a three-mile pedestrian and bike path along historic Springfield Mill Race, from downtown to Middle Fork Path.
Though my end goal for graduate school is to become an architect, I think I’m about to change that. My first step will be to ride the new Mill Race path in Springfield.