Dr. Leela Viswanathan

About Leela Viswanathan

Dr. Leela Viswanathan, PhD, RPP, MCIP, is Founder and Principal of Viswali Consulting, a planning and advisory firm that inspires planning with purpose, and change by design.
Human-centred planner | Enterprising scholar | Forward-thinking strategist.

Hope as Resistance

By |2023-03-27T13:19:51-04:00March 27th, 2023|Categories: News|

The act of hoping in the midst of moral distress is an act of resistance. As noted by Rebecca Solnit in Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities: “Resistance is first of all a matter of principle and a way to live, to make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit. You hope for

Planning and Possibility

By |2023-01-30T12:02:30-05:00January 30th, 2023|Categories: News|

The start of a new calendar year is a time to reflect on the past year. And the start of a new lunar year always makes me think about how to be open to possibility. The start of a new moon cycle nudges me to consider what needs to be wrapped up from the last

Cultivate Joy

By |2022-12-21T11:35:08-05:00December 21st, 2022|Categories: News|

I am looking forward to spending December holidays, and ringing in the new year, with family and friends. After two years of spending New Year’s separated from them, due to COVID, I am especially grateful to be reconnecting with them in person. During our extended periods apart, I have deepened my appreciation for how important

Infrastructure is About People (Too)

By |2022-12-05T20:40:09-05:00November 30th, 2022|Categories: News|

There are lots of definitions for social infrastructure in the realm of planning and policy. Most explanations of social infrastructure focus on physical infrastructure with a social purpose, like education/schools, health/hospitals, and recreation/swimming pools. Missing from many examinations of social infrastructure, especially those connected with capital projects, are people; instead, people are the focus

Autumn 2022 Update

By |2022-10-27T16:18:50-04:00October 27th, 2022|Categories: News|

An entire season has passed since I last posted, so it is time for an update! I pressed the pause button this summer and spent the time rejuvenating my own health and well-being. I also reflected upon the past two years at Viswali Consulting and our practice of fostering systems change. I am amazed

Practices for Managing Uncertainty Redux

By |2022-10-27T16:19:04-04:00June 29th, 2022|Categories: News|

Faced recently with personal uncertainty, I decided to take my own advice noted in my December 2021 blogpost “Practices For Managing Uncertainty.” However, this time I took more time to recognize the feelings of fear and vulnerability that also emerged. As the saying goes, “The best laid plans… often go awry,” and over the past

Writing From The Heart

By |2022-05-30T10:19:01-04:00May 30th, 2022|Categories: Community|

I spent the past seven months writing—from proposal to manuscript—what may become my first book. It is a different kind of manuscript than what I have written in the past, and my approach to it was also further afield from my previous academic work. I drew from a combination of approaches based on meticulous

Empathy in Action

By |2022-09-13T16:05:56-04:00April 25th, 2022|Categories: Community|

I frequently speak about empathy in action, when I am invited to speak about equity, diversity, and inclusion in different contexts, including planning, post-secondary education, governance, research, and systems change. What can empathy in action look like? Empathy in action can involve: building a critical awareness of dominant culture and its impact on our

Spring and the Evolution of Reconnecting IRL

By |2022-03-31T08:53:50-04:00March 30th, 2022|Categories: Community|

Spring is a good season for renewal and reconnection with nature, and with each other, In Real Life (IRL). As the snow melts and the ice thaws, and we find surprises underneath—detritus and hibernating plants to learn from [1]— I generate new thoughts and ideas for business and personal renewal too. This winter felt

Advice for Students About Building Career Resilience

By |2022-03-04T11:02:19-05:00February 28th, 2022|Categories: Community|

I am often asked by urban planning students for career advice. Here are my top recommendations: 1. Become a lifelong learner Building career resilience facilitates work security and requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Be open to learning new skills, new experiences, and to fostering rich and purposeful relationships. 2. Figure out what matters

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