Cultural Resilience in Diasporic Communities: The Case of the Arab Community in Greater Seattle Area
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Urban design and the placemaking profession are centered on a dominant model of spatial production of the public realm. Non-dominant groups, including the immigrant communities like Arabs, are underrepresented and often misrepresented in public spaces. This research aims first to underscore the importance of understanding immigrant communities in terms of the social integration and cohesion that emerges from multicultural representation, inclusiveness, and social capital; second, it aims to provide a reference that serves community planners and designers and placemaking professionals with culturally-aware lenses in placemaking. Qualitative storytelling interviews were used in collecting the data in order to explore the phenomena in rich details, which cannot be determined in short-response interviews. Through the 14 conducted interviews, three predominant dimensions of resilience emerged that linked the 14 stories together: robustness, rapidity, and enhancement. When explaining the three dimensions in a graph, they form the “resilience triangle.” When a transition to the U.S. occurs, a loss of functionality is likely to happen due to the enormous environmental, political, economic, and cultural changes that people encounter when they immigrate. How much functionality is lost mainly depends on robustness. The time needed for an individual to return to the normal trajectory of functionality represents their rapidity. The learning and adaptation process people go through as they return to functionality can be represented as enhancement. Where someone is in the resilience triangle might influence two major aspects that are crucial to the non-dominant groups’ representation in the public realm. One of these aspects is public participation. Where somebody is in the triangle might influence the interest or ability to participate in the government, planning, and design work. The resilience triangle can inform what people bring to the table and whether they can be on the table or not, or whether they would be interested in being on the table. The other aspect is people’s position within the triangle and how this might influence people’s design preferences and inform the community planner and designer processes.
- Urban planning