Perhaps one of the greatest challenges faced by planners is understanding and helping express the values of the communities we serve. After just a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur I’m overwhelmed by the diversity of cultures and humbled by the prospect of finding common ground, identity, and a shared set of values to guide the city’s future. Since every culture and every community expresses itself differently, how does one go about that task here? What threads of identity unite the people of KL? From one perspective, how we approach most of our tough issues depends on how we’re able to work together, and the visions we create together – be it issues of economic prosperity, environmental health or social equity. I already have so many questions and can’t wait to connect with my local counterparts.
Having traveled independently in Malaysia with my wife and kids about six years ago, the sights and sounds are still somewhat familiar. At that time, however, I found it hard to be just an observer since I was deeply curious about the systems and movements that were driving what I saw. To return and “look under the hood” so to speak as a professional, and to have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned as a planner in Eugene, Oregon, is such a gift and a privilege! I’m so grateful to my hosts and the ICMA/YSEALI program for making this possible.