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Hi there.

My name is Matt. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Among other things, I’m a graduate student in urban planning at the University of Illinois. There I read, think, write and teach about cities: what they are, how they work and how they can be made more sustainable.

The degree I’m working toward is a Master of Urban Planning, but as I’m learning, planning isn’t the kind of thing that can be mastered. Economic factors, environmental concerns and social issues form a Gordian Knot of competing interests that planners attempt to untangle. Some have called these conundrums “wicked problems.” For me, they’re wickedly fascinating.

Before I studied the seemingly intractable problems of cities, I worked on equally stubborn challenges facing the environment. During three years at Groundwire, I built online tools for some of the smartest organizations in the sustainability movement. I learned the importance of data, what good engagement looks like, and how people and systems combine to produce change. (If this sounds like planning, it should.) In the process, I fell in love with Python, a programming language that makes coding an art.

Prior to my stint as a programmer for sustainability, I studied communication and graphic design at Goshen College, a small, Mennonite, liberal-arts college in northern Indiana. Goshen taught me to write, speak and design, but it also exploded my worldview. The seeds of my planning education were planted in a food pantry in Denver and in the Andes of Peru. Transformative hardly begins to describe it.

Clearly I like to plan. I also like to play Scrabble, rollerblade, strum the ukulele and print things the old-fashioned way. Want to know more? Just ask.

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