During their recent annual meeting, The Maine Association of Planners (MAP) recognized Orono Planner Evan Richert’s iconic contribution to planning in Maine with this Lifetime Achievement Award.
Richert began speaking to Maine communities as a young journalist in Brunswick in the 1970’s. After obtaining a degree from the Maxwell School in Syracuse, NY, he began his professional planning career at GPCOG. Working with South Portland, he eventually left GPCOG to work full-time for the City. In 1981, he formed Portland Research and Communications and, shortly thereafter, joined with Mark Eyerman to form Market Decisions, Inc. (MDI). Together the team grew MDI into a premier consulting practice that bridged the gap between public planning and the development community. Anchoring planning, development, and public policy with direct market research and analysis, Evan demonstrated the importance of data in analyzing planning problems and identifying appropriate policies and strategies to address them.
In 1996, Richert became Director of the State Planning Office (only the second professional planner to serve in that role) and lead the State and its professional planners in developing a framework to understand and plan for Maine communities, regions and the state. Under his tutelage and using the that bully pulpit, Richert led the state in a discussion and focus on the cost of sprawl, the importance and unique stresses of service center communities, and the importance of merging lines between land use, the environment, and the economy, He helped precipitate ongoing conversations about planning issues throughout the State from the Capitol to City Halls and neighborhood assemblies. Collaboration among the various sectors of the state — government organizations, chambers, NGOs, and professional associations – came together in unique ways that continue to affect how planners do business in Maine.
Reaching out to and inspiring professionals, as well as college and graduate students, Richert has taught at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School for many years.
Richert has also contributed to the scholarship of planning. His symposium on the Centennial of Ebenezer Howard’s “Garden Cities of Tomorrow,” one of the classics in planning history was named the “Honorable Mention” for the “Article of the Year” for the JAPA in 1998.
Over the years, Richert has received a number of awards that recognize his contribution to planning. Especially since his time with the State Planning Office, Richert has been the “mind” of planning in Maine. He represents the analytical side of planning, reminding all that planning is immersed in facts, both hard statistics and scientific assessment, as well as in an understanding of cultural and social values, topping those abilities off with the gift of translating complicated analysis in a way that not only informs, but touches the reader’s spirit.
For the past 11 years Richert has been serving as the Municipal Planner here in Orono. His experience and commitment to his craft has been instrumental in preparing the Town of Orono for the future. Town officials congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.