Creative Community Planning: Transformative Engagement Methods for Working at the Edge, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Creative Community Planning

Transformative Engagement Methods for Working at the Edge, 1st Edition

By Wendy Sarkissian, Dianna Hurford, Christine Wenman


336 pages

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Creative Community Planning provides clear access to emerging innovations in artistic, narrative, embodied and technological methods. Reflecting on the wide continuum of participatory practice, the authors explore the frontiers of community engagement within a fresh sustainability framework. Leading planning theorists, researchers and practitioners in the field reflect with the authors on the many successes and challenges in engaging with a diversity of people in rural and urban communities. These conversations reveal creativity as key to enhancing existing engagement practices. Concepts and practical applications thread through the book, including community visioning, participatory research and reporting, conflict resolution, poetry and planning language, theatre, photography, film and websites.


'Wendy and her colleagues have done it again … this new book provides a wealth of creative wisdom that can help unlock opportunities that we never ever see coming when we begin a project.' Dr Mike Mouritz, Head, Sustainable Futures Unit, HASSELL, Perth, Western Australia 'Wendy Sarkissian is well known as an instigator of imaginative engagement processes that have enlarged the boundaries of participation theory and practice. In this book Sarkissian and co-author, poet-planner Dianna Hurford, bring together a set of participation practices that link the person and the planet through art, poetry, drama, planned surprises, and play. By drawing people away from their standard patterns of interaction, these inspiring and transformative tools and approaches have the potential to create plans, policies, and agreements that can really make a difference. There is much to learn from this thought-provoking book.' Ann Forsyth, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University 'Wendy Sarkissian and Dianna Hurford are the Margaret Mead and Mary Oliver of the community development world, combining youth and experience, poetry and playfulness, toughness and tenderness, to the challenges of living well and sustainably on our planet. Inviting us to the edge of the known world of community planning and engagement, they then gently push us off into space and give us the wings to fly: wings of beauty, creativity and relationship. It's a journey from paralysis to action, from isolation to connection, from homogeneity to polyphony: no less than a new way of being for community engagement practitioners committed to healthy communities.' Leonie Sandercock, professor, cross-cultural planner and film maker 'In Creative Community Planning Sarkissian and Hurford deliver an important message with punch and spice: It's time to go beyond business-as-usual civic engagement. It's not enough to find out the public's priorities and concerns or seek public buy-in on community plans and policies. The public represents a tremendously underutilized community asset: a source of wisdom and creativity in finding solutions to the complex issues (the 'wicked messes') that face communities everywhere. The challenge is to find ways to bring out the public's wisdom through creative community engagement. This book launches us on the path.' Dr Patricia A. Wilson, Professor of Planning and Civic Engagement, University of Texas, Austin 'Wendy and her colleagues have done it again. Raised the bar on our insights in how to undertake meaningful engagement programs. For me, as a planning practitioner who spends a lot of time on urban regeneration, often within communities that are disenfranchised in some way, this new book provides a wealth of creative wisdom that can help unlock opportunities that we never ever see coming when we begin a project.' Dr Mike Mouritz, Head, Sustainable Futures Unit, HASSELL, Perth, Western Australia 'Wendy and her colleagues challenge the idea that first comes knowledge, then comes action - for how can we begin to learn, to listen, to inquire, to wonder, to imagine if we're not already rooted in a place, in a history, in a web of social and political relationships and interactions? Wendy and her colleagues help us to recognize our connections, our interdependence, in far more intricate and intimate ways than most traditional (ecological or 'systems') views do and so they don't shirk from speaking of 'love' and care and respect and survival when they see that and more at stake in the ways we treat our places, our planet and one another.' John Forester, Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University and the University of Amsterdam 'In Creative Community Planning the authors have produced an eye-opening, sometimes startling, account of new approaches to engaging the public in the decision-making that will affect their lives. In discussions of heart-centered processes, embodied work, role playing, and the power of silence (among much else), we learn how the boundaries of community planning are being expanded and exploded. Interviews with practitioners enliven the discussion; accounts of community planning experiences provide real life examples; and step-by-step techniques offer innovative approaches. An inspiring book that engages the heart as well as the mind.' Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emerita, Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of California, Berkeley 'This is Wendy's best book yet. She and Dianna outline, in clear and inspiring language, how to elicit meaningful changes from and within communities. I can't wait to use it with my students!' Dr Carolyn Whitzman, Associate Professor in Urban Planning, University of Melbourne 'Creative Community Planning shows how to truly engage a community with freshness and fun so that participants can listen, laugh and interact with openness and insight. Creativity and artfulness -while risking complexities of emotion and conflict- come out of public processes with real solutions that have meaning for people in the community.' Arthur Orsini, Director of Child & Youth Engagement Programs, Urbanthinkers, Vancouver 'Wise, uplifting and heartening, this book will rekindle the passion for working creatively with communities in those feeling jaded by the compromises we have made. It made me feel young again.' Angela Hazebroek FPIA, Director URPS, Adelaide, and a town planner with 25 years' community engagement experience 'The book will be a valuable addition to the resources available to community planning practitioners. It reviews honestly what has worked and what has not within the authors?experience and reminds us that it is important to keep trying new ways of engagement.' Jenny Muir, Queen's University Belfast, Housing Studies

"This book is more than a pleading for the use of creative methods in community planning; it provides as well a priceless toolbox for the practitioners in the field of community development, especially for the ones working in the margins or borderlands of communities, in cross-cultural context." — Nicolae Cuta, 7 September 2011, International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John’s Hopkins University 2011

Table of Contents

Foreword by John Forester. Preface. Part 1: Traversing the Edge: Introduction Poem Practice is Sensuous Activity 1. Why Traverse the Edge? Creative Underpinnings 2. Practitioners Working at the Edge: Creativity in Practice Part 2: Inhabiting the Edge: Dreaming, Imagining and Embodiment Poem 3. The Practice of Inhabiting the Edge: Interview with Wendy Sarkissian 4. Community Visioning as Engagement: Why a Conversation is Merited 5. Heartstorming: Putting the Vision Back into Visioning 6. Acting like a Child: Welcoming Spontaneity and Creativity in the Aurora Team Development Workshop 7. Embodying the Vision: Kinetic Community Engagement Practices Part 3: Stories from the Edge: Pushing Professional Practice Poem Poetry 8. Learning at the Margins: Margo Fryer and Pamela Ponic on Deconstructing Power and Privilege 9. 'And Action!' New Roles for Film in Engagement: Leonie Sandercock and Jonathan Franz 10. Websites as Engagement Site and Story: Aileen Penner and Think Salmon 11. Creativity and Moving Beyond Conflict: Michelle LeBaron, Norma-Jean McLaren and Nathan Edelson Part 4: The Growing Edge: Creative Engagement Processes for Children and Young People Poem 12. But They're Only Kids! Why Engage with Children and Young People? Part 5: Blurring the Edges: A Call for an Integration of Transformative Processes Poem 13. New Languages for Community Engagement: Translation, Language and Polyphony 14. On the Edge of Utopia: Stories from The Great Turning Gilt-edged Resources Gilt-edged Resource 1: A Visioning Example: Our Bonnyrigg Dream Gilt-edged Resource 2: The Embodied Affinity Diagram Gilt-edged Resource 3: The Gods Must Be Crazy: Script and Instructions from the Safe Communities Scenario, Sydney Gilt-edged Resource 4: Barefoot Mapping: Learning through the Soles of Our Feet: A Participatory Design Workshop for Youth in Airds, Sydney Gilt-edged Resource 5: A Week with a Camera. Notes. References. Appreciations. Sources for Photographs. About the Authors. Index

About the Author

Wendy Sarkissian PhD, a speaker, planning practitioner, academic and workshop facilitator, has co-authored many award-winning books on planning and community engagement. Dianna Hurford MAP, poet and planner, has worked for the past 10 years in the field of affordable housing and homelessness in British Columbia, Canada. Christine Wenman MScP is a community and natural resource planner whose professional focus includes governance, education and citizen engagement.

About the Series

Earthscan Tools for Community Planning

There is increasing global demand for more local involvement in the planning of the environment. This is the only way that communities will get the surroundings they want and make the transition towards a sustainable future. This series of short, accessibly priced, practical books have been written by the world’s leading planning professionals to provide tools to support community planning wherever it occurs. Each book is a stand-alone, but together they create a compelling resource for planning professionals, community groups, activists, planning students and anyone looking to facilitate engagement in a community context.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development