Planner Spotlight: Ben Braudrick

Current Position: Assistant Planner
Total years of planning: 5 years
Hobbies: Backcountry backpacking and extremely long day hikes, rock climbing, fermentation, gardening, reading, biking, and running.
Hometown: Mendocino, on the North Coast of California.
Favorite Places: Anywhere with old growth forest, the alpine, the Pacific Ocean, and the New Moon Craft Tavern here in Port Angeles.

Why did you choose a career in planning?  I got my first degree in landscape architecture but spent the last few years of school studying climate change, oil depletion, water scarcity, and food production. After a few years designing and building landscapes, I took the next logical step in doing what I felt was right for myself and my community. Planning was the logical career path to help build better, more self-reliant communities and improve peoples’ quality of life.

Why did you decide to be a planner in Washington? Washington kind of chose me. I’ve lived here since I was 18 and seen almost every corner of it hiking, biking and driving. I chose the Olympic Peninsula because it’s just far enough away from the City and has everything I could possibly want from a community. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else in Washington right now, but I do miss Spokane (shout out!). There are a lot of challenges to a mid-sized city, but that keeps my job interesting. Plus, I live four blocks from Olympic National Park, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

What projects/initiatives are you currently working on? I’m currently managing the design and (hopeful) construction of two multimodal, bike related corridors. One is a major arterial that enters Olympic National Park that will connect to the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) and have 30% of the ROW devoted to a ped/bike trail. The other is multiple sections of the ODT that will complete the final gaps within Port Angeles. I wrote the grants for the projects, interviewed and selected our consultants, and have run every public meeting. The process has been exciting and challenging, and I’m thankful I’ve been given the opportunity to work on something that I am very passionate about. I also do just about everything else you can think of because I am currently the only non-management planner for the City.

What was your first planning-related job? I worked for the City of Spokane in Environmental Programs and within the Office of the City Council. I was tasked with starting the City’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory and working with individual departments to try and reduce annual emissions. Working for the City right out of college is likely the reason I chose to become a professional planner instead of a landscape architect.

What advice would you give a new planner? Don’t be afraid to have an opinion that is different than your co-workers or boss, you’re a professional. But, know when to provide it. Make yourself indispensable, and find new ways to do your job better and make things easier for your team. You’ve got a fresh perspective and probably know how to use tools your coworkers don’t. Also, teach your co-workers about keystrokes and shortcuts. They love that.

What do you wish you had known when you started your career? The nuts and bolts of planning. They are hard things to learn in school. I wish knew to ask the right questions during my internships and squeeze every drop out of those experiences. AICP Ben could have taught Green Ben a thing or two about the right questions to ask, which would have made my new career easier.

If you were not a planner what profession would like likely be in? I’d be fermenting locally sourced vegetables and making beer to fund being a climbing bum.

Do you have any favorite websites/tools/blogs that relate to planning or your job that you’d like to share? The urban planning subreddit is a great place for planning related discussions and content and article aggregation. It’s constantly updated by user submissions, so is always relevant to the hour, day, month and year. It’s a great place to test ideas and have an opinion among peers anonymously. Atlantic also has a great website that aggregates all of their planning related content.

Return to the May/June issue of The Washington Planner