Jim Schwab

Jim SchwabWhy does Jim Schwab have a website? Who is he anyway? You don’t have to be a household name to do something worth discussing. I learned long ago that seemingly ordinary, uncelebrated people are doing some of the most worthy work in the world.  This website is about sharing and learning. To me, a day is only wasted when I have failed to learn something new or contribute something worthwhile, and often those two concepts are closely intertwined. I hope you enjoy this website with that idea in mind.

            I am an urban planner who happens to have grown into a niche specialty on natural hazards and disaster recovery. I am an author who remains involved in the cultural scene in Chicago and the Midwest.  I have concerns about our society’s future that are discussed in my website section under “Reflections.” And I have new projects (News) in the works for which I hope this website opens some networking opportunities to enrich what I can learn from others and what they may be able to learn from me.

Think Big Thoughts

Too much of what passes for discourse on the Internet, in my opinion, is merely an exchange of trivia. Too many people with too little perspective on life and too much time on their hands dominate too many discussions. I am an author who prefers to engage in some serious thought before committing words to the ages. I have dedicated a major part of this website to what I am calling “Reflections” on a handful of what I consider important subjects. In a previous incarnation, this website contained “Four Gardens of Reflection.” The word “garden” was intended to convey an arena of careful thought in a cultivated landscape. While I am no longer using that imagery, the idea of cultivated thought still appeals to me against the backdrop of so much vitriolic, often poorly informed commentary in various current media including the likes of Fox News. Let’s all spend more time thinking and less time venting. I invite you to join these Reflections. In due course, I hope to offer you the option of offering some reflections of your own. Oh, and, don't expect me to update the Reflections on a daily basis. It's more important that I have something of value to say than to offer new content just for its own sake.


Deeper Shades of Green
This book examines the often invisible movement within minority communities, as well as white blue-collar neighborhoods, to fight industrial pollution and protect public health.

Raising Less Corn and More Hell
An oral history of the farm protest of the 1980's that challenged widespread farm bankruptcies and liquidations.
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Jim Schwab receiving award
Photo by Joe Szurszewski. Copyright 2016 American Planning Association.

As of June 1, 2017, Jim Schwab was no longer with the American Planning Association. Over the summer, he moved into his “five-point retirement plan” to focus on book projects, consulting, his teaching at the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning, his blog on this website, and public speaking. As part of this new undertaking, he rolled out a new business website shortly after Labor Day. Jim is also intensifying some of his volunteer activities in church, professional, and literary organizations.

Election as APA Division Chair-Elect

Jim Schwab has been elected chair-elect of APA’s Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division (HMDR), one of about 20 special interest divisions within the organization. Divisions serve their members, APA, and the public by providing professional education, advocacy, and special services in their areas of interest or expertise. HMDR has the unique role of helping determine APA’s response to planning needs in areas struck by natural disasters and in promoting better public policy regarding preparation for such events. In APA divisions, the chair-elect serves for two years under the chair of the division, assisting with division administration and program development and participating in Divisions Council business. Newly elected division officers will take office on January 1, 2018; this also means that Jim will become chair of the division for two years at the beginning of 2020.

Induction into FAICP

In early 2016, Jim Schwab was elected to the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners, the highest honor accorded within the profession of urban planning. This distinction honors more than two decades of leadership on his part in helping shape planning for hazards as an entire new subfield within urban planning and elevating the importance of hazards as a focus of the profession. Induction into FAICP occurred during the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in Phoenix on Sunday, April 3.

AICP inducts new fellows on a biennial basis following nominations by APA chapters and divisions. The 2016 class included 61 outstanding individuals in the field. Nominees must have been members of AICP for 15 years and undergo thorough review of their career achievements. Planners become members of AICP after passing a certification exam and maintaining continuing education credits on a continuing basis over those years.