Ted Wells

Ted Wells

Ted was born and raised near Boston, Massachusetts and educated as an Architect and Urban Designer in Oregon and Colorado. After completing his degree in the sixties, he chose to join the Peace Corps in Ethiopia rather than the war in Vietnam.

For three years he planned new towns in very remote parts of the Rift Valley while his wife, Helen, treated sick people and cattle there. They then spent a year travelling the back roads of Europe in a VW van exploring their new towns to see what he should have done in Africa. Eventually they returned to the United States where he worked for 5 years as a planner for a small city in Colorado.

He has written plans for several US communities, the World Bank, the Japanese Aid Agency, a Gold Mine, the Sultan of Brunei, the Emperor of Ethiopia (just before he was killed) and for dozens of city, regional and national governments around the Pacific Rim including New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and Papua New Guinea. He has also been on the New Zealand Planning Institute’s Governing Board of Directors, written articles for several journals and helped win for BECA Consultants, his employer for much of this time, several professional planning awards.

Both his books, “Power, Chaos or Consensus?” and “The Old Man in the Bag” are about some of his professional and personal travels and the ideas he has come across working on the edge of political decision-making in various parts of the world, which have given him hope there could be a better future for us. 

Samoan Village Meeting2

It was in Ethiopia where Ted first learned that even selfless good intentions don’t always leave those being “helped” with smiles on their faces; that life decisions are rarely ever black and white even though most of our public institutions currently force us to solve problems by first polarizing their possible solutions.

However, it was not until he spent two years in Samoa helping local communities prepare coastal management plans against sea level rise due to global warming using their centuries old consensus decision-making methods, that he finally understood just how there might be another way through the current global mess we now find ourselves in.