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Land use decisions affect our lives profoundly, but until recently, urban planning was the arcane craft of technocrats. This insightful book shows how you and other citizens can be involved at every step of the process with the help of free and inexpensive mapping and statistical applications. You'll learn how planning works, from early question setting to final decision making to later evaluation, and how you can use these new tools to make your own contributions to the process. Shape Your Neighborhood demonstrates how and why the citizen input leads to more flexible decision-making and, ultimately, a richer, more responsive experience in many communities. Want to help decide what happens in your area? Read this book, and learn how to join the conversation. Learn the tools you need to determine what's happening in a given geographical area, and forecast what might come next Understand the importance of local context, including variations in political and planning culture and detail Explore the financial and legal considerations that often drive planning Present your story for maximum influence by understanding how to combine technical knowledge with political application