Regional Planning for Southeastern Massachusetts

Southeastern Massachusetts is the roughly triangular area bounded by Route 495, Buzzards Bay, and Rhode Island\’s eastern border. In a high level aerial view of the northeastern megalopolis at night, one can just distinguish the lights of the region\’s four cities, New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, and Attleboro, bordered by a dark interior space. In the light of day, this hinterland resolves into a patchwork of small towns, farms, cranberry bogs, and pine barrens.With the help of an advisory panel and through our own investigations, we will come to understand this region in its environmental, economic, and social dimensions. The main product of the studio will be a long-range planning report that deals with conservation and development as an interconnected process: red, green, and blue planning for a region that is experiencing differential growth. Based on our analysis, we will propose a regional strategy for consideration by citizens, NGOs, public officials, and the business community.The studio opens with a review of regional planning theory, methods of regional analysis, and models of regional organization and governance. There will be an emphasis on method: delineating the region, discovering its structure, building scenarios and evaluating them. The region will be revealed as both a space of flows–physical and \”virtual\” movements–and a space of places. Obstacles and barriers to regional action, including \”home rule,\” and problems of regional identity will be addressed. Students will have ample opportunity to apply GIS and other technical skills acquired in earlier courses in analyzing the region and presenting their findings.