Thursday, April 28, 2011

research and pechacucha, the future of participatory planning, interview with SFC/SFPB

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Conflict resolution - portland discussions on gentrification

Friday, April 1, 2011

Socrates Cafe and Exploration
Open Space technology and MV project review

Friday, March 25, 2011

Charrettes and thoughs on New Urbanism--you don't need to tell the people, you ask them the questions and they give you NU answers

we don't just come and shit on your town pigeon-style

a model that can be packed up and taken town-to-town? the ideal for participatory methods?

Friday, March 11, 2011

David Campt

David Campt's City Forum presentation and running into him at the bar.
How important is identity and representation/subjectivity for facilitators and consultants
Better to be like David or even Alan--develop a working model, adapt it and travel around and tweak your template
Or grounded in a community, conversation with Aretousa

class readings

Friday, March 4, 2011

Collaboration vs. Empowerment

Latin American Studies notes -- collab vs. empowerment, assumptions of homogeneity in "community"? Latin America, implications for this class/theUS? Arguments why empowerment shouldn't always be the goal, the relationship between "civil society" or the public and decision makers/the state is always contested/changing, always with LEARNING
AmericaSpeaks reading and Penns Landing case - learning is key

Sunday, February 27, 2011

East Riverside workshop

Yesterday I (and most of the class) attended the East Riverside Corridor workshop at Parker Lane United Methodist Church. I thought I had arrived early, but the guy in charge (who I found out later to be Alan Holt, a senior planner with the city) was already giving barely-audible instructions to the group. Oops. It seemed straightforward enough--act as a scribe at the table we were assigned to. However, as the day went on I functioned more as the official map-roller-upper than anything.

The plenary sessions packed a ton of information into a short amount of time, but interspersed the technical and historical stuff with cutesy jokes, clipart, and even a film clip from Back to the Future. After each plenary session there was a breakout session where the table was to select from among the various scenarios relating to the extent of parcel inclusion in the TOD "hubs", and the density, maximum heights, and compatibility standards and so on for the hubs.

Throughout the day, in the transitions between plenary and breakout sessions, I would quickly walk around to check on the other students to see what and how they were doing. I wanted to see if other students were actually scribing for their tables and what they were writing, since I was having trouble figuring out what should go up on the poster paper. I had written a few things down under the heading of "concerns," but I was feeling insecure about what would be helpful to the table. After checking in with the other students, it looked like most of them were doing the same thing as me: helping the facilitator with rolling up and rolling out the very large maps onto the small tables that each breakout session required, with little time to scribe. Discussion at the table was moving pretty quickly and there was little conflict, given that my table was 100% property owners.

The most interesting thing about my table, however, was that the table facilitator--a relatively recent graduate of another Texas university's urban planning program--was a really nice guy, but seemed incredibly unprepared to facilitate, even with such a conflict-free table. He stammered and was unable to answer most questions, and admitted he was not familiar with the study area. Basically, he abdicated the table to a representative from AMLI, a large Chicago-based developer that owns one property in the Corridor and was interested in expanding and building more luxury apartments within the hubs. The rep was extremely knowledgeable about the area and claimed to have attended every relevant meeting prior to yesterday. It got to the point where other table members almost ignored the facilitator altogether and asked most of their questions to the developer.

I studied the facilitator because I know that were I asked to facilitate a table right now, I would probably not be much better! I think that so far, I've been able to read enough to identify what a facilitator generally should not do and in this case it was modeled nicely for me, which is actually really helpful. I'm just nervous that this is what my future looks like--it seems to me that facilitation requires a lot more than just reading about what skills you need, but also a lot of practice, which this facilitator admittedly did not have (he also did not take a participatory methods-type class within his program).

So, it was fascinating to witness this process, but as always, I'm never quite sure what to make of it until much later. As I think I have mentioned, I'm slow to form opinions or analyze, especially before I hear the opinions of others. I almost wish I had another student at my table for awhile so that we could deconstruct the events of the day from my table together. From talking to other students, it sounded like we had some very different experiences. Matt told me that his table had some participants that refused to reveal their names and held one solid position rather aggressively until they walked out!

I hope to go to the next meeting in a few weeks and continue to follow this process. I had no idea urban rail was planned for this area before today, and it will be really interesting to see what happens to the Riverside neighborhood and what final decisions are made, because even at my table, a few participants expressed that no matter what they picked, City Council will have the final say. It seems like a common theme in Austin.