Public Involvement as an Opportunity for Multicultural Sociability in an Urban Context
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University of Washington Abstract Public Involvement as an Opportunity for Multicultural Sociability in an Urban Context Ian W. Nunley Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Associate Professor Mark Purcell Urban Design and Planning The social compositions of American cities are in a constant state of evolution. With levels of domestic and international migration on the rise, the rapidly developing nature of these increasingly multicultural constituencies can often lead to verbal or even physical conflict unless mechanisms are institutionalized that encourage cross-cultural communication, interactions across difference, and inclusive governance. As a forum for solving community-wide environmental problems, public involvement processes in urban planning offer an opportunity for the public to interact across cultural differences as they deliver discussions about shared spaces to people and communities that might never have other reason to interact. In order to develop effective and inclusive public processes in multicultural cities, a pronounced emphasis must be placed on the implementation of community outreach, engagement, and design methodology that encourages progressive communication and collaboration. Following a review of the work of Leonie Sandercock and the future of urban cultural diversity, this paper presents the framework for an ideal public process that organically fosters fruitful interactions across difference. This hypothetical framework is then used to analyze the public process currently being implemented in Seattle in association with the new Central Waterfront Program. Results from the analysis show a dynamic and comprehensive process, but not one that regularly encourages interactions across difference by members of the public. Following this analysis, a set of recommendations is then posited for strengthening the opportunities for multicultural interaction in the public oversight, outreach, participation, and engagement processes associated with the Central Waterfront. The work presented here has implications for future studies pertaining to the cultural dynamics of multicultural cities and the social production of space.
- Urban planning