1st Edition

The Power of Culture in City Planning

By Tom Borrup Copyright 2021
    232 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Power of Culture in City Planning focuses on human diversity, strengths, needs, and ways of living together in geographic communities. The book turns attention to the anthropological definition of culture, encouraging planners in both urban and cultural planning to focus on characteristics of humanity in all their variety. It calls for a paradigm shift, re-positioning city planners’ "base maps" to start with a richer understanding of human cultures. Borrup argues for cultural master plans in parallel to transportation, housing, parks, and other specialized plans, while also changing the approach of city comprehensive planning to put people or "users" first rather than land "uses" as does the dominant practice.

    Cultural plans as currently conceived are not sufficient to help cities keep pace with dizzying impacts of globalization, immigration, and rapidly changing cultural interests. Cultural planners need to up their game, and enriching their own and city planners’ cultural competencies is only one step. Both planning practices have much to learn from one another and already overlap in more ways than most recognize. This book highlights some of the strengths of the lesser-known practice of cultural planning to help forge greater understanding and collaboration between the two practices, empowering city planners with new tools to bring about more equitable communities. This will be an important resource for students, teachers, and practitioners of city and cultural planning, as well as municipal policymakers of all stripes.

    Introduction: Planning at the Intersection

    Chapter 1: Inception: Purposes, Beginnings, and Promises

    Chapter 2: Close Encounters: What Keeps City and Cultural Planning Apart?

    Chapter 3: Back to the Familiar: Culture, Place, and Ways of Living Together

    Chapter 4: A Force Awakens: Cultural Planning at 40—A Turn to Community in the Arts

    Chapter 5: Place Odysseys: Meaning, Attachment, and Belonging

    Chapter 6: Artistic Intelligence: Creativity in Public Process

    Chapter 7: The Maps Strike Back: From Empires to Equity

    Chapter 8: Guardians of Democracy: The Right to Design the City

    Chapter 9: Downsizing: The Vernacular and the Creative Economy

    Final Thoughts—Cities on the Edge of Tomorrow


    As founder of Creative Community Builders, Tom Borrup is an international consultant and lecturer working with cities, foundations, and nonprofits to develop synergy between arts and culture, economic development, urban planning and design. His book, The Creative Community Builders’ Handbook, remains a leading text in the field. Tom earned his PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University and is Senior Lecturer and Director of Graduate Studies for the University of Minnesota’s Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership.

    "Tom has written one of the most thoughtful books on how to think, plan and act culturally. This helps us reimagine how to create great cities that go with the grain of who they are and their local distinctiveness. And that in the end gives them strength and personality"

    —Charles Landry, inventor of the creative city concept, one of leading thinkers on cultural planning, and author of The Creative City and The Art of City Making, among others 

    "Tom Borrup critiques the Eurocentric and colonialist assumptions often-underlying city and cultural planning, and calls for an anthropological understanding of cities' diverse ways of life. He also addresses city planning’s "often-invisible cultural agenda" favoring "dominant economic, political, and institutional cultural interests." Anyone who cares about cities should read this book."

    —Thomas Fisher, University of Minnesota 

    "Borrup’s decades of culturally-based community work shine through, providing enriching insights on ways to incorporate culture into city planning. Often overlooked yet critically vital, cultural planning can empower more equitable, socially just and sustainable community development – and The Power of Culture in City Planning is just the book that can help us better understand how to do so."

    —Rhonda Phillips, FAICP, Dean and Professor, Purdue University  

    "Tom Borrup is one of the most authoritative and seasoned voices in creative placemaking today, and The Power of Culture is like having a meaningful conversation on the state of city planning and cultural planning in the western world. This book both inspires and challenges the planner (of cities, arts organizations or cultural environments) to think deeply about their work. It should be part of the reading list for courses on comprehensive community planning and community-based arts planning. City planners and cultural planners should read this book -- preferably together — to see what they've been missing."

    —Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP, Founding Director, The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, Director of Creative Placemaking, New England College

    "The practice of planning stands to be enriched by a deeper engagement with culture. Yet urban and cultural planning are often a world apart, leading to deficits in equity and social justice. A theorist and practitioner in equal measure, Tom Borrup is the perfect guide to bring these disciplines into fruitful dialogue."

    —Andrew Zitcer, Assistant Professor of Urban Strategy, Drexel University