We all know children who say they want to grow up to be an astronaut or a firefighter or a superhero. But how many decide they want to grow up to be a planner? Well, Edward Anthony did.
Anthony grew up in Woodville, Mississippi, about 50 miles north of Baton Rouge, and now he’s all grown up and living his childhood dream: He has just joined CPEX as its newest planner and project manager. Anthony brings eight years of experience in the private and public sectors in consulting, development and planning projects — but most importantly, he brings a passion for planning inspired by his small-town upbringing.
Anthony sat down to tell us a little bit about himself, and how his experience growing up in a small town inspired and informs his career as a planner.
A Big Imagination
As a child, Anthony’s parents told him that he thought big. His active imagination often led him to write short stories — big “tall tales,” as Anthony calls them. But he also used a lot of that creative energy dreaming about ways he could improve the lives of people he knew, such as his grandfather. When riding shotgun in his grandfather’s truck, Anthony noticed that his grandfather drove very slowly, and Anthony wondered why there wasn’t a traffic lane specifically set aside for the elderly to use.
This imagination was also backed by a keen sense of the limits of the infrastructure of his hometown. Anthony says he often wondered why he and his family had to travel to a city like Baton Rouge to purchase things from larger stores — and he would imagine what it would look like if they could get everything they needed in Woodville. “I was trying to pull the good things that I found in cities, such as shopping, entertainment and recreation,” he says. “How do I get to a place where my town can benefit?”
Growing up in Woodville also provided Anthony with another insight: an up-close look at the impact that community planning can have. “I think my upbringing in a small community gave me a care for the people around me,” he says. “It gave me the scale to see individual problems.”
By being able to see the impact of planning firsthand — whether it was poor usage of downtown space or the lack of jobs in the area — Anthony was inspired to take on a career in planning. “You always think about life in its most simplistic form. Would people have to move out if you had everything that you needed here?” he asks.
Anthony says this desire to create better places to live is what ultimately drove him into a career in public service. “Even if it wasn’t just my community, I wanted to be in a position where I could make an impact for a great cause,” he says. “So you gravitate to some positions in which you feel like you can make a change and make an impact.”
A Country Boy at Heart
Anthony says his family is enjoying living in Baton Rouge, and he’s excited about making an impact with CPEX. But he says that ultimately he’s still a country boy at heart.
That passion is what drives him when he considers new projects in towns and rural communities. Revitalizing these communities means navigating a delicate balance between economic activity and the character that makes them so unique. It’s a question that he says he’s always considering: “How do you preserve the culture that you have?” he asks. “Because once you start to bring in ideas from other places, you start to change the community that's around you as well.”
It’s not always the easiest question to answer, but with his passion and expertise, we know that Anthony is up for the challenge.