Staff Spotlight: Taylor Firestine
A native of Fort Wayne—which he describes as “Rust Belt and Corn Belt chic”—Taylor Firestine is one of a generation of planners who got hooked on the process while playing SimCity on the computer. When he began researching careers that matched his interests, he found his destiny. Taylor has a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and development from Ball State University, which he also earned a master’s in urban design. Here’s some Q&A so you can get to know him better.
I enjoy volunteering, graphic design, cartography, watching documentaries, and reading.
I have one pet, my cat-son, Gizmo.
Minoring in Sociology through my undergrad, I was introduced to the works of Ta-Nehisi Coates. I very much admire his prowess in writing and commentary on American culture, specifically how the dynamics of race and politics factor into American social conscious.
Favorite place to visit or vacation?
I have so many favorite places that it's difficult for me to choose just one. But to keep it local, I love visiting Bloomington and Brown County.
Most important recent trend in planning?
I think it revolves around sustainability and resilience. Regardless of political stripe, the fact remains that most cities are ill-equipped for sudden disasters and have not fully developed plans to address problems that may impact them for long periods of time (e.g. changing climate, environmental degradation, population fluxes, etc.). This is vital in ensuring cities can bounce back and provide for their citizens in times of crisis.
Best-planned city in America?
Pittsburgh. That probably raises some eyebrows, but the city has been resilient to economic crisis and kept population loss at bay, unlike many of its Rust Belt neighbors. I admire Pittsburgh’s leadership and citizens who’ve continued building a world-class city with a diverse economy on health and education, invested in transit and multi-modal transportation, supported mixed-use infill redevelopment in its neighborhoods, and maintained a high quality of life—despite the loss of tens of thousands of high-wage jobs in manufacturing. I think a lot can be learned from this often overlooked city!
If you could improve one aspect of Central Indiana infrastructure, what would you do?
Central Indiana is in dire need of land-use policies compatible with transportation infrastructure that doesn’t only favor the automobile. By building for cars, we beget sprawl, limit tax revenue, strain our public infrastructure and limit residents’ opportunities to move about the region. Building our transportation system in step with smarter land-use policies helps capitalize on public expenditures and allows residents improved mobility options (bike, walk, transit, car, etc.).