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The anatomy and soul of Raleigh

Raleigh’s planning director, Mitch Silver, is one of the co-editors of a new version of a popular planning text book. The book, “Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice,” may be of interest to Raleigh residents because it includes a critique of the city by Silver, who was hired to be the planning director in 2005. (Please don't confuse our Mitch with all those other authors named Mitch Silver.)

Silver said he wrote the piece about Raleigh in late 2006 or early 2007. It follows an approach he uses called “The Anatomy and Soul of a Place.” Silver describes the approach as being part detective, part evangelical and part doctor. He takes in the physical composition of a city, looks for clues like a detective to identify the invisible and spiritual aspect of a city and then makes a diagnosis.

So what was his view on Raleigh after about a year of living here?

“It’s part of the New South but it has roots in the traditional South,” Silver said of Raleigh.
He used the term “rural urbanism” to describe the city and its healthy tree canopy. He said Raleigh is a medium-sized city that still has the qualities of a small town. Most people give directions based on physical landmarks, not streets, for example.

Although Silver has used this approach in all his previous planning work, the text book was the first time he’d put it in writing.

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