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Evaluating Capacity Building and Empowerment in Public Participation in Planning: A Case Study of a Participatory… Harding, Theresa J. Feb 5, 2008

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Evaluat ing  Capaci ty  Bui ld ing  and Empowerment In  Publ ic  Part i c ipa t i on  in  Planning: A Case Study of a Participatory Action Research Project on Housing in Richmond, B.C. Theresa J. Harding Masters Candidate School of Community and Regional Planning August 23, 2004 1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people have made it possible for me to earn my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My mother and father, Roberta and Frank Boutilier, gave generously in every way that was needed and asked for, and if not for them, I would have surrendered the dream. My children, Anatta, Sareen, and Gesar Harding, have been my inspiration, the spurs in my sides, and the joy in my life. With humour and cooperation each of you rose above the many challenges that came with my education, and we are a more wondrous family thanks to you. My incomparable friends, Juanita and Martin Evans, Colleen and John Fox, and Deborah Harlow – evergreen caretakers for the seasons of my mind – have always been my sacred east. Over these eight years, I have drawn on the wisdom of Helen Francis, Nell Toegel, Alan Stamp, and Kathleen Whipp, and with profound gratitude I thank each of you. At the end of it all, three people rallied to my deadline, contributing immensely to this document and to my confidence in it: Christopher Boutilier, my brother and personal trainer on all things hi-tech; my editor, Karen Martin; and my Second Reader, Kari Huhtala, Senior Planner, City of Richmond. Students’ Financial Aid Services, at the University of British Columbia, made up the difference between fulltime and part-time work so I could stay in school. I am proud to become a contributor to this service for other students. University has been a journey of re-education, as much as it has been curricular. To those professors who taught beyond the books – Professor Brian D. MacLean, Dr. Dawn H. Currie, Dr. William Rees, and Dr. Leonora C. Angeles – I am most grateful. The wealth of my re-education will be for the benefit of others, Earth and all it sustains. My Committee Advisor, Professor Anthony H.J. Dorcey deserves a special tribute for his unconditional support as I navigated the turbulence and doldrums of managing an education, while raising a family. His trust in me was an unflagging wind in my sails, essential to landing on the other shore of my graduate journey. Thank you. Finally, I want to thank the six community volunteer researchers for participating in this evaluation. You gave generously of your time and your insights into participatory research, and from you I have learned much more than this report can contain. What is of value in this document is thanks to you! 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                                                                ..............................................................................................2 TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY                                                                                                 ...............................................................................................4 Introduction                                                                                                                            ..........................................................................................................................4 The Case Study                                                                                                                      ....................................................................................................................5 Summary of Methods                                                                                                             ...........................................................................................................5 Capacity Building Themes Summarized                                                                               .............................................................................6 Empowerment Indicators Summarized                                                                                  ................................................................................7 Discoveries and Surprises                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................10 PART I                                                                                                                                 ...............................................................................................................................11 INTRODUCTION                                                                                                             ...........................................................................................................11 1.1 Preface                                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................................11 1.2 Community Capacity Building                                                                              ............................................................................13 1.3 Individual Capacity Building                                                                                 ...............................................................................15 1.4 Capacity Building Defined                                                                                    ..................................................................................16 1.5 Public Participation in Planning                                                                             ...........................................................................16 1.6 Radical Planning                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................20 1.7 Participatory Action Planning and Research                                                         .......................................................25 1.8 Public Participation and Empowerment                                                                 ...............................................................31 PART II                                                                                                                                ..............................................................................................................................32 METHODS                                                                                                                         .......................................................................................................................32 2.1 The PAR Project                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................32 2.2 Evaluation                                                                                                              ............................................................................................................34 2.3 Qualitative Research                                                                                              ............................................................................................35 2.4 Ethical Planning and Research                                                                               .............................................................................37 2.5 Presentation of Findings                                                                                        ......................................................................................38 2.6 Interviewees                                                                                                           .........................................................................................................39 2.7 The Researcher                                                                                                       .....................................................................................................40 2.9 The Questions                                                                                                        ......................................................................................................42 PART III                                                                                                                              ............................................................................................................................44 FINDINGS                                                                                                                          ........................................................................................................................44 3.1 Interview Responses                                                                                              ............................................................................................44 Annotation 1 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................45 Annotation 2 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................47 Annotation 3 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................48 Annotation 4 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................50 Annotation 5 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................52 Annotation 6 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................54 Annotation 7 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................55 Annotation 8 to planners:                                                                                         .......................................................................................57 Annotation 10 to planners:                                                                                       .....................................................................................62 3.2 Empowerment                                                                                                        ......................................................................................................62 3.3 Empowerment Indicators                                                                                      ....................................................................................64 3.4 Indicator Results                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................66 3 PAR as Empowering                                                                                                ..............................................................................................72 Commitments/Recommendations                                                                            ..........................................................................73 PAR, Race, New Immigrants                                                                                   .................................................................................75 Enjoyment/ Satisfaction                                                                                           .........................................................................................78 Knowledge                                                                                                               .............................................................................................................80 Skills/ Skill Development                                                                                        ......................................................................................81 Supportive Relationships                                                                                         .......................................................................................81 Training/ Qualifications                                                                                           .........................................................................................82 Resources Help/info                                                                                                 ...............................................................................................83 Confidence                                                                                                               .............................................................................................................84 Understanding Others & Values                                                                              ............................................................................85 Control Of Choices                                                                                                  ................................................................................................85 Awareness                                                                                                                ..............................................................................................................86 Networking/ Communications                                                                                 ...............................................................................87 Flexibility                                                                                                                 ...............................................................................................................88 PART IV                                                                                                                              ............................................................................................................................88 CONCLUSION                                                                                                                  ................................................................................................................88 4.1 Recommendations                                                                                                  ................................................................................................89 Recommendations to Planners                                                                                 ...............................................................................89 Recommendations for Further Research                                                                  ................................................................90 Discoveries and Surprises                                                                                        ......................................................................................90 References                                                                                                                    ..................................................................................................................91 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In t roduct ion 4 Planners and researchers who involve the public in decision-making processes need a clear idea as to what the public gains through participating. The body of research into the public’s experience in public participatory processes is very limited. There is much to learn still, and yet, the public is increasingly invited to give freely of their time, effort, and knowledge to planning and research projects affecting their region, city, community, neighbourhood, or household. At the same time, a growing number of community members view participation as a democratic right, and expect their participation to be direct, meaningful, and of consequence. Participatory planning and research is also being recognized as an effective method of revitalizing citizenship and democracy. However, not enough is known about what motivates the public to participate, what supports participation, what undermines it, and which structures and processes are most likely to support participation? This report presents an evaluation of volunteer community members’ experience in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project on housing. The goal of this evaluation project is to identify the value of participatory processes for capacity building themes and empowerment indicators for planners and researchers as a guide in facilitating participatory processes. The Case Study The PAR project was sponsored by the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre (RWRC), and funded by the Status of Women Canada. It took place over a twelve month period ending April 2004, and produced the report, Our Voices, Our Homes: Women, Poverty, and Housing In Richmond, B.C. (Harding, 2004). Six community members volunteered to conduct the research under the guidance of the RWRC Program Coordinator, and with the assistance of myself, as consultant and report writer. Although five of them had post secondary educations, none of the volunteers had any PAR experience. Everyone learned new skills and knowledge necessary to the tasks they chose to complete; some were organized learning opportunities, such as interview training, and some was organic learning, such as through the process of the literature review. Each phase of the project presented challenges and opportunities, to which each volunteer researcher adapted differently and at different rates. At the celebratory event, with report in hand, the volunteer researchers felt the overall experience had been satisfying, personally rewarding, and ultimately empowering. Summary of  Methods One-on-one interviews were conducted with each of the six volunteer researchers, using a set of ten questions crafted to evaluate their participation in terms of capacity building which was one of their PAR project’s stated objectives. The interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim and the interviewees reviewed their transcripts, suggested edits were made, and the outcome of that process became the working copy for this evaluation project. This project is grounded in planning literature, qualitative research, capacity building, and empowerment literature. The literature informed analysis and 5 presentation of the data that emerged from responses to the interview questions. The findings are presented in two ways: 1) themes of capacity building, including useful annotations to planners, and 2) experiences of participation as empowering; these are illustrated in the form of a prime indicators matrix, and also in the form of a “narrative mosaic” for each of the fifteen indicators that arose in the findings. Recommendations conclude the report. Capaci ty  Bui ld ing  Themes Summarized The following is a summary presentation of the ten capacity building themes that emerged in response to the interview questions, these are the top two themes from each of the ten. 1.) Motivation to Participate a. The desire to make a difference in the lives of others. b. An awareness of the need to address the issues under study. 2.) Knowledge and Skills a. The interviewees had some knowledge and/or skills they hoped would be helpful to the project. b. They learned new skills and knowledge, which because of their education and years of experience working with social needs, came as a surprise. 3.) Initial Planning Phase a. Each interviewee came to realize the complexity and wide scope of the project. b. Each recognized the need and value of leadership, experienced guidance, and help. 4.) Heightened Intensity Phase a. Realising the intensity and density of the process and tasks. b. Generated a strong sense of responsibility to the team, their individual tasks, the women they were interviewing, project completion and outcomes. 5.) Developmental Capacity Building a. Personal aha!’s – elements of surprise. b. Appreciation for the value of the research – to people living in poverty, and to the whole community of Richmond. 6.) Instrumental Capacity Building It became evident that even though the interviewees had learned instrumental capacities – skills and knowledge – that was not what they felt was important to talk about. What they were inspired to express was their experience of empowerment. By the end of the third interview, a sense of empowerment became a second focus of inquiry for this evaluation, which after all, was seeking to learn about their experience of participation. The following were the top responses that expanded the focus of this evaluation. 6 a. Positive group experience b. Would participate in another community project c. Increased sense of connection with women in poverty d. Personally satisfying experience e. Pride in the research/ hope it will increase affordable housing f. Project was empowering experience 7.) Future Involvement a. Every one of the volunteer researchers was motivated to be involved in another participatory process (in fact some of them already had subjects they wanted to study and one had already agreed to be involved in another project). b. All of them perceived lack of political will to act on the recommendations in their report. This was based on the numerous studies they had come across in the literature review that had not been followed up with action, in particular the City of Richmond’s affordable housing studies and policies over the last twenty years, leading to the current state of inadequate and unsafe affordable housing revealed through their research. 8.) Community Building a. Heightened sense of community developed through working with each other and with the women they interviewed. b. Understanding that organizational connections into the broader community of Richmond are important supports to community-based research; furthermore, interest-based networks and coalitions are instrumental supports to achieving the goals of their project. 9.) Recommendations to Others a. They urge others to participate in community-based participatory projects. b. Participation is personally very rewarding, and it benefits the community. 10.) Recommendations to Planners a. Public planning and research should be participatory, not top down. b. Weak public participation equals weak plans. Empowerment  Indica tors  Summarized The following table shows the empowerment indicators found in the responses to the interview questions. Except for the first four, these indicators are the same as those found by a comprehensive study done in the European Union. The indicators found in this evaluation research are listed in descending order according to the total value given to it by the interviewees; some indicators were unanimously valued, while two or three interviewees valued others. 7 Comparison of Empowerment Indicators PAR, Capacity Building/ EU STUDY Empowerment Indicators Empowerment Indicators By Descending # of References: By Descending # of Responses: PAR as Empowering 42 Confidence Commitments/Recommendations 33 Knowledge PAR, Race, New Immigrants 28 Skills/ Skill Development Enjoyment/ Satisfaction 24 Supportive Relationships Knowledge 25 Resources for Help/ Info Skills/ Skill Development 21 Control of Choices Supportive Relationships 16 Awareness Training/ Qualifications 16 Networking/Communications Resources for Help/ Information 15 Training/ Qualifications Confidence 15 Responsibility Understanding of Others & Values 11 Self-esteem Control of Choices   7 Understand Others & Values Awareness   6 Flexibility Networking/ Communications   4 Advice & Guidance Flexibility   3 This table shows a statistical account of what was said in response to each question, but does not give a sense of how the experience gave rise to the indicators. The following narrative mosaics connect the numerical value of the indicators to their experiential value. These mosaics were excerpted from a larger narrative body on PAR as Empowering. PAR as Empowering Personally * PAR has reinforced being involved; I haven’t done participatory research before * you are counted; you can share your ideas with other women; it is very important * this kind of thing encourages me and I want to participate in more of these projects * when I saw my name on the report, I was proud * this kind of project was good because it was a chance for us to learn * it gives women a chance to be honoured, to speak out, to participate in a serious project * I’ve grown up too, so that next time you want to do research I am not scared about being part of it – I can help more * I had a voice * PAR as Empowering for Others * People’s strengths come out; people learn and become competent and confident * people are so diverse and come with their own ideas from different backgrounds; a very different process, it is empowering; it allows everybody to contribute * giving a chance to people who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance * this gives people a chance to have 8 dialogue, to learn something from those that have the power and those who do not * to be engaged in the community, it’s part of the democratic process * PAR as an Empowering Method * with PAR you get the stuff of real life, a descriptive sense of the quality of life * capacity building is empowering * it’s about empowerment; that your voice has worth * that is the importance of community-based projects and capacity building; it is about inclusiveness, including everybody in the community and that is very important, it is empowering people * value in the process of providing the space for everybody to be there * that’s why you need this participatory research to get those snapshots of lives and through it I’m learning lots about this topic that I’ve never thought about before * this project is related to both Richmond and Canada, and ideally it is not just about Richmond. I feel more connected to Richmond now, and also with Canada * The layering and intersecting of categories of social difference and location underline the need for what John Forester described as “finely aware” and “richly responsible” planners/ researchers. Those who can work well with the uncertainties and ambiguities that are the qualitative context of public participatory processes are the embodiment of Radical Planning, an approach that may have its place in multicultural, postmodern urban contexts of  21st century planning. Recommendations Participatory planning and research projects require the following factors be integrated into their design and facilitation, in so doing, capacity building and empowerment will be organic to the process and the publics’ experiences. Instrumental Factors 1) Awareness and education for working knowledge of the issues, problems, and context. 2) Practice and training for skills necessary to perform chosen tasks. 3) Time factored into to planning to enable education, training, and “on the job” learning. Developmental Factors 1. Make it possible for participants to share control, decision-making, and responsibility. 2. Enjoyment and satisfaction are very important, and can be facilitated by flexibility in the process to enable responsiveness when needed, and by participation being meaningful and respected. 3. Recognize the value of surprises, make space for them, and validate them. 4. Group relationships/ experience is very important, make time for fresh identities and new relationships to develop. 9 Contextual Factors 1. Facilitators have a key role, (e.g., be clear, reflexive, compassionate, deliberative, open and listening). 2. Availability/ access to adequate and appropriate resources (e.g., leadership, information, office space and equipment, help). 3. Connect to community organizations and networks that would value, endorse, and support the project. 4. Enable participants to relate to underlying/ surfacing issues of difference and diversity. 5. Political-economic context can undermine or support the project, so collaborate with participants to minimize or maximize on context. Additionally, this evaluation project offers three general conclusions on participatory planning and research: 1. Participatory planning and research should be in the curriculum of planning schools. 2. Participatory planning and research projects, of all types – government, public-private, community-based, academic – should evaluate participants’ experiences. 3. An archive of participatory planning and research materials is needed, (e.g., case studies, evaluations, rural and urban, and multicultural) Discover ies  and Surpr ises It is always humbling to rediscover that the more I learn the more there is to learn. This evaluation has been an opportunity to learn this lesson at personally and intellectually deeper and more complex intersections. The ‘public’ is comprised of community members, each of whom brings a history, values, and a unique set of experiences to public participatory processes. As this evaluation project has shown, participation can come from an unselfish desire to make their community a better place. This evaluation has convinced me that given adequate and appropriate facilitative resources and supports, the ‘public’ can overcome institutional and financial constraints and limitations; they can come to understand and accept their combined and cumulative differences, and transmute the constraints and differences into creative advantages, and concrete benefits for the common good. Participation in governance is no longer seen as a rare opportunity,  graciously granted by an indulgent executive or administration. Participation in governance - and we're talking about meaningful, direct participation - is increasingly viewed as a public right. (Neilson-Welch and Long, 1999) The challenge: to link the ‘idea’ of radical planning to the practice of grass roots transformative social change”.  (Aberley, 1999: class handout) 10  This report presents an evaluation of volunteer community members’ capacity building experience in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project on housing, Our Voices, Our Homes: Women, Poverty, and Housing In Richmond, B.C. (Harding, 2004). The goal of this evaluation project is to identify capacity building themes and empowerment indicators for planners and researchers to guide them in facilitating participatory processes. This project report is divided into three parts. Part I, the introduction, defines the terms and establishes the parameters and content of the evaluation. Part II, the methods section, describes the general context of qualitative research as it relates to this evaluation and details the steps and considerations taken to conduct the research and produce this report. Part III, Findings, presents and interprets the data in two complementary ways, displayed for quick and easy reference. The conclusion gives recommendations for designing and facilitating public participation in planning, and ideas for further research. PART I INTRODUCTION 1.1 Preface Community members are increasingly invited to contribute their time, effort, first- hand experience, or expertise, as volunteers, to planning projects, research, and decision- making processes that could affect their region, city, community, neighbourhood, or household. In step with the invitation is the growing conviction among community members that participation in decisions affecting their environment and quality of life is a right; moreover, they expect their participation to be direct, meaningful, and of consequence. There are significant benefits to facilitating meaningful public participation, whether driven by communities, government or business, and whether the purpose is a new social policy, a land-use issue, or a new official community plan. The more controversial the purpose, the more the public want to be involved, and the more important their participation is to win-win, sustainable outcomes. When meaningful participation is facilitated, community members take more of an interest in planning proposals and processes; they are more willing to engage with diverse perspectives, and experience the context of decision-making trade-offs – all of which increases community support for the decisions made, and reduces the tendency and incidence of inflexible positions. However, not everyone enters planning processes with the equal capacity to engage; thus, there is a need to facilitate and evaluate capacity building. 11 It stands to reason that a lack of information, skills, or resources reduces the capacity of community members to participate; limits their individual effectiveness; compromises their role in the planning process, and their input value to the outcomes. Their capacity building must be made a focus of, and facilitated within, the process. In addition to facilitating the acquisition of specific necessary skills and knowledge, it is also important to understand and support community members’ experiences in order to sustain participation through to the end of a project, and motivate them to participate in future public planning processes. The best way to gain the understanding needed to provide adequate and appropriate supports is to listen to community members describe their experience. One- on-one interview evaluations provide data rich in detail, contextualized relevance, and highly useful recommendations. Evaluating the participation experience of community members should be a standard practice at the end of every process involving the public – otherwise there can be no informed, effective framework to guide facilitation of public participation. It is in the interests of governments, business, communities, and their members to ensure public participation produces the best possible outcomes. Progress can be achieved through flexible and responsive evaluations made accountable to respondents, subjected to critical analysis, and used to inform future public participation planning processes. Evaluation of the capacity building of volunteer community members is not routinely integrated into project evaluations in any type or quality of planning or research. Most of the capacity building evaluations and indicators are specific to community/ organizational capacity building, and most of what is available on individual capacity building is specific to international development contexts. Fortunately, there was enough material to provide a sufficient, (though not densely, nor richly articulated) set of references in which to ground this evaluation. Therefore, there are not many sources for answers to questions such as:  What might be the experience of the community member?  What new skills or knowledge could be gained should they participate?  How can this experience be made valuable to them?  What might facilitate or hinder their participation?  How can the process motivate them to participate again?  What resources need to be available?  What worked last time? The type of project, the method of participation, and the approach will shape the evaluation; no one evaluation will serve all projects equally. An accumulating archive of evaluations could contribute valuable principles and guidelines, as well as sets of best practices for planners, researchers, private industry, and government to study and adapt. This report aims to add to that archive. 12 1.2 Community  Capaci ty  Bui ld ing …when we engage in action research we are engaging in a process of building communities of inquiry. (Hiebert and Swan, 1999:357) Concepts and practices of capacity building are commonly associated with building the capacity of communities and community organizations and their partners to work together, share and pool resources, and identify issues or goals together. In recent years, resource reallocations and reductions in federal, provincial, and local governments have had non-negotiable, largely negative impacts on communities and community organizations, as well as local governments. Their separate and collective capacities to maintain existing programs, services, and funding are over-extended. This loads the weight of public expectation for sustained quality of existing services, plus increases demands to fill in cracks caused by reduced federal and provincial government funding. This is causing untenable situations, competition, and conflict. In this unstable socio-economic climate, community organizations expend inordinate amounts of time fundraising and competing for limited grants; they operate within highly stressful service delivery limitations, and are expected to respond to a growing number of consumers and increasingly desperate consumer needs (TD Bank, 2003; Long and Goldberg, 2002; Hulchanski, 2001). Community organizations are working as hard to survive as they are to provide services. With the income gap widening across Canada, especially in the cities, community members are also confronted with stressful economic conditions and crises. Government income assistance programs are doing more to create that stress than they are to alleviate it. The pressure for change is felt most strongly at the local government level created by families and organizations that have fallen into the cracks; this pressure is for: services, food, operating funds, and shelter/ office space.  Community capacity building is fast becoming a strategic response. Local governments can facilitate collaborative community development and capacity building processes at relatively little cost with multiple direct benefits to community members, organizations, and to the local government. The Richmond Planning Policy Discussion Paper identifies some of the benefits of capacity building for local governments:  a better understanding of an organizations’ purpose, role and capabilities  a greater confidence in an organizations’ ability to deliver agreed upon services  more ability to ensure accountability from organizations when funding and resources are provided  a better ability to explain to taxpayers what value and benefit the community has received for providing public support  improved clarity and co-ordination  not having to do it all themselves  having partners to achieve solutions  accessing community knowledge, education, skills and experience 13  fewer complaints (Crowe, 2003:19) Within the conceptual sphere of community building is the discourse on defining “community”. The endeavour to define community is a postmodern one, and might be stated as an endeavour to allow for a situated, or self-defining, sense of community. Thus within a “community” are the obvious ethnic, religious, age-referenced, sexual- orientation-referenced, and/or gendered “communities”. There are also communities such as: skateboarders, cyclists, and dog-walkers; the legal community; the development community; schools and the wider education community; the homeless community; the community of local non-profit service providers; and the neighbourhood community. Whether interest or gender based, geographically or self-identified, the difficulties planners encounter in identifying a community are exceptionally well illustrated by the following excerpt on community development with a Hmong community in the U.S.: [I] t  became clear that our notions of “community”…were problematic. First, we soon realized that the “community” we sought to work with was not a static entity. As we worked to identify potential participants, we turned initially to Census and other geographical data. Due in part to the availability of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs, increasing numbers of Hmong families have been relocating to this area from other parts of the United States in search of jobs and financial stability. This secondary migration is juxtaposed with mobility of those families with relatively better financial means from urban city center to surrounding suburban areas. This suburban-bound mobility extended what might be the boundaries of the “Hmong community” from city to surrounding “pockets”. Such mobility has created a steady population flux, rendering identifiable and static boundaries, such as geographical delimiters, unhelpful. Moreover, there are local practices that defied out attempt to delimit the “Hmong community” geographically. For example…it was not uncommon for a Hmong household to have a family member or relative from another location stay for months, or even years…In addition to physical mobility, close communication between family members and relatives across state and national boundaries created a sense of virtual community in which news, gossip, and rumors traveled swiftly. (Yoshihama and Summerson Carr, 2002: 97) The authors of that report went on to describe their quandary as it was revealed in the rural-urban split; the conflict between Hmong women’s interests and the “community’s” interests; the Catholic and Protestant communities within the “Hmong community”; class divisions and clan allegiances; and how varying facilities with the English language, American institutions and customs also grouped families differently. Not only is the discourse dynamic on questions of defining “community”, it is equally dynamic on questions of who speaks for the “community”. Frequently, people who are not of the gender, class, or social status of those they “represent” hold leadership/ spokesperson positions. Therein derive issues such as, voice, authenticity, authority, validation, and representation; therein lies the ‘problem of speaking for others’: Research [or planning] as empowerment does not eliminate this problem. However, the practice of creating ‘inclusive communities’ helps us to deal with it 14 in a socially responsible manner… to include… individuals and groups who are likely to hold alternative views. Thus it involves people in research [planning] who are not conventionally thought of as having the knowledge and skills to design, conduct, or appraise research [or planning]. (Ristock and Pennell, 1996: 12) And, Although this instability leaves us susceptible to having our identities defined for us, it also makes it possible for us to collaboratively redefine our identities. (13) A parallel point can be made to the difficulty in defining the “Hmong community”, and this is the difficulty in defining individual identity: Whether the identifier is the planner or the community member, the identifying references will change according to the relational power dynamics, the personal histories, the context and purpose of the project. Thus, to move group dynamics from position taking to creating, planners must facilitate public participation in ways that enable communicative and collaborative processes that enable new relationships to emerge and fresh identities to form. 1.3 Indiv idua l  Capaci ty  Bui ld ing In many ways, in principle and practice, individual capacity building is a microcosm of community capacity building. Yet, a significant difference is in the dynamics of working with volunteer community members who are speaking for and accountable to their own experiences. It is substantially different from the tenor of input from community organizations, and their employed representatives, who must speak for and are accountable to clients, boards, mandates, labour standards, and hierarchies of decision-making, (to name but a few parameters).  Contrary to popular fears, in many ways, there is a greater opportunity for win-win outcomes when the public is participating; one such way lies in the creative possibilities of new identities and new relationships. It cannot be assumed that the community member is any less informed on the protocols of the process, or the discourse surrounding the issue; the community member might have extensive experience working with the issue and participates to bring otherwise constrained opinions and convictions to the discussion. Nonetheless, community members do not need professional designations to speak with expert knowledge on their lived experience. Although, they might require capacity building in order to bring that knowledge forward for equal consideration in the decision-making process. In any case, the public is multiply diverse. Therefore, planning processes involving community members must facilitate a range of capacity building objectives. 15 1.4 Capaci ty  Bui ld ing  Def ined There is no direct causal relationship between the delivery of products and services, and development. If we are starting to recognise that empowerment is the ultimate objective of development interventions, we will have to accept that  it cannot be delivered like water pumps, health programmes, or training workshops. Equally it cannot be measured in the same way.  (Taylor, 2000) Janice Morrissey has identified two categories of capacity building goals. The above meanings match her indicators for one of these goals which is instrumental capacity building. Instrumental capacity building is achieved through training and development for skill and knowledge, enabling community members’ full participation. They are instrumental in that they are a means to an end, with “the focus of participation on the difference it makes to the project outcomes” (2000: 63). Morrissey expands the meaning of instrumental to include benefits to governments and communities derived from the public’s full participation, such as: increased employment, achieving a better balance of resources, improved community sustainability, and/or improved performance of government agencies. Citizen participation can help to increase the program’s success and ensure accountability so that the benefits are indeed directed toward the intended beneficiaries” (71).  However, the second category of her capacity building goals, developmental capacity building, is not captured in the dictionary definitions. Yet, both Morrissey’s and this evaluation indicate it is the key to rewarding experiences, as well as, successful processes and projects. Many advocates of participatory democracy, on the other hand, place emphasis on the developmental (or educative) perspective, which views participation both as an end in itself and as a means to self-development (63). Morrissey’s research found that without a developmental component, instrumentally focused processes achieved narrow, short-term benefits at best; this project corroborates Morrissey’s research. Its findings indicate community members placed considerably less value in instrumental benefits to themselves or the project, because their experience was richly interesting, validating, and empowering. Stated differently: without the process the products have marginal worth. This provocative finding is discussed in more detail in the findings and analysis section of this report. 1.5 Publ ic  Part ic ipa t ion  in  Planning 16 Being a citizen is an assertion of equality. A wealthy person is neither more nor less a citizen than a poor person. A new resident is no less a citizen than someone with 15 generations of history in a community. The purpose of citizenship, or at least healthy democratic ideas of citizenship, is to act as a tool of inclusion and involvement, not exclusion and marginalisation.  (Istvanffy, 2003: 6-7) Citizen participation in planning is part of the process, the project,  of exposing power and its instruments. (Aberley, 1999: class notes) Istvanffy wrote, “some of us have more capacity to participate in our communities than others” (Istvanffy, 2003: 6-7). Capacity is determined as much by societal forces and conditions, as by individual strengths and abilities. Capacity building is not only shaped by its purpose; it is also shaped by its context. A context comprised of political will, or not; of budget constraints, social values, organizational culture, and discrimination based on socially constructed categories such as: class, race, gender, ability, and age. The purpose of participation and capacity building can be dominated, even undermined, by the context. Approaches to participation and capacity building are determined by the purpose and context; thus, some approaches are more anticipatory and responsive to the capacity building needs of community members. The more fully and meaningfully community members are involved, the more adequate and appropriate their capacity building. This report does not offer a full discussion of political, economic, and cultural contexts affecting public participation, and subsequently their capacity building. However, the following six factors suggested by Cox indicate the extent of contextual forces that could directly impact communities, but over which communities cannot exert any direct influence (2001: 41): 1) Privatization and continued cutbacks in publicly supported social welfare programs (loss of entitlements, citizen’s rights, and legitimate arenas of citizen participation). 2) Deinstitutionalization and internationalization of the economy (rapidly changing work place environment). 3) Heightened climate of individualism vs. collective effort (lost community theme and isolated life styles). 4) Increased availability of ever-changing technology. 5) The rise of “new social movements” characterized as increased focus on diversity; ethnic and special interest-based organizing. 6) Postmodernist theory’s impact on practice, especially assessment. In other words, downloading government policies and programs is causing local decision-making in areas that were formerly predominantly federal and provincial responsibilities – education, healthcare, and social services. A growing response to the consequentially adverse conditions is the grassroots ‘backyard revolution’. It is gaining ground as the public takes initiative on local needs, issues, and interests. Notably, the combined trends of downloading and the backyard revolution highlight, for governments and communities, the effectiveness of communities in responding to their problems by 17 crafting relevant, low-cost, workable solutions that achieve what well-funded teams of professionals could not. As the public loses faith in government’s ability and commitment to serve the public’s interests, they take more initiative and demand meaningful dialogue. Issues of power and control that are familiar federal-provincial and municipal-provincial dynamics, are being expanded to municipal-federal and community-local government questions of power and control, transparency and accountability. It is important to understand, in these new and unstable contexts of planning with the public, in the larger political-economic context, downloading has intensified competition on axes of power and control. Therefore, planning closer to the ground is required to produce sustainable solutions, reliable partnerships, and favourable predispositions in the public for participating in future planning processes. Planning closer to the ground situates the process in the “back yards” of the public, so to speak, where the plurality of values, social fluencies, economic barriers, and cultural differences are out in the open – an essential condition for solutions and resolutions. Planning closer to the ground demonstrates the problems generated by dualistic and comprehensive planning approaches, and unequivocally points to the common sense of plural, communicative, positive, and pro-active processes. Inclusive processes integrate time and social space for all participants’ concerns and points of view; wherein community members’ senses of quality of life are at the centre. A “quality of life dimension” cannot be understood in simplistic terms, such as good/bad, safe/unsafe, families/singles; and therefore requires an approach that elicits, respects, and supports difference in community. Planning processes that facilitate, proverbially speaking, neighbours talking over their backyard fences, could transform those barriers into structures on which to train new growth. “[C]ommunity participation plays a particularly important role in influencing the sense of community” (Bowen et al, 2001: 71, 76). Facilitating superficial and tokenist public participation planning processes might result in achieving the purpose desired by the process initiator, however, it is likely to cause a diminished sense of community and quality of life in and between community members. From shallow consultation to empowering action planning: the quality and conditions of public participation are mirrors into the non/negotiations on the distribution of power and control, and they are reflected in the planning structure, process, and decision-making. Finally, the integrity of the planner also has a “make it or break it” affect on the quality, conditions, and outcomes of public participation. Planners need to be conscious and conscientious and be prepared to challenge oppressions when they arise in the process – systemic, interpersonal, or within themselves. Before leaving the discussion on public participation, it should be noted that even when the process is disempowering, when it is “tokenist, inauthentic, incorporative and even repressive”, while it can have highly negative effects, there could also be benefits to community members and/or to their communities when the public participates.  (Smith; 18 1998: 197). Although the research that produced these findings was conducted on participatory planning in developing countries, Canada and B.C. have political-economic contexts that have caused conditions that make the findings of Smith’s research relevant. For example: 1. Utilizing the public’s participation to maintain or improve community conditions once wholly maintained by government, as with adopt a highway/tree; youth group shoreline clean-ups; and neighbourhood crime watch programs. Though the community has weak decision-making input, the community does derive concrete benefits from this form of participation. 2. Contributions of cash, materials or labour can constitute participation when those contributing will be the beneficiaries, as when skateboarders get together to fundraise, design, and participate in the construction and safety monitoring of a skateboard park; when a community association equips a sports field; or a seniors group raises funds for wheelchairs, walkers, and medical aids to loan to low income seniors. Clearly, members of the community benefit in real terms and the experience contributes to a sense of self-reliance in the community. 3. Enlistment of the time, expertise, and skills of community members to voluntarily provide research, services, programs needed in the community. For example, the Richmond Poverty Response Committee, a coalition of community members and organizations supported by the City to develop/enhance programs and services for poor and low-income families. As Smith concluded, while they may have no direct influence over policy and planning decisions, they “nevertheless mould implementation to community needs”. (201). 4. Cooperation by certain members or entire communities might be needed in order to achieve overall health and safety benefits, or to sustain the use of a resource. For example, asking the cooperation of people to empty, clean, and monitor pools of water in their backyards to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus; or asking people to only use organic fertilizers on lawns and gardens to reduce health risks to pets, children and the environment; and to water lawns once a week to sustain water reservoir levels. If the homeowners and gardeners did not participate in these precautionary measures, the outcomes could be dire for the whole community. 5. “Consultation the weakest form of participation can bring new values and perceptions to bear on the design and evaluation of projects which subsequently expand access, strengthen responsiveness to needs, and produce more appropriate policies”, if the community’s participation is facilitated for genuine input (202). The value in understanding the potential for community benefits inherent in predominantly weak participatory approaches is that, with this awareness, planners can work within the weakness, all the while determinedly mining for the potential. 19 1.6 Radical  Planning Social theorist Jurgen Habermas, one of several influential writers during the 1960s and 1970s, applied Critical Theory to social relations, and in particular, relationships between States and their citizenry; he put “critical” and “emancipatory” forms of knowledge on the agendas of political and social sciences, health and education, community and international development (Habermas, 1972; Miller, 1996). The focal point of these writings was power, its sites and intersections, (e.g., class, ideology, race, wealth, socio-political status), and its use, abuse, and inequitable distribution. Knowledge was identified as a preeminent site of power, which, if freely and widely accessible, could transform social processes, such as planning. However, real communication between equals, equitable distribution of knowledge, and empowered political communities of citizens, would not be possible without profound social transformation. While the power of knowledge remained centralized it could be used/abused to control information – to misinform, to withhold information, to manipulate the uniformed and misinformed public; to curtail or otherwise undermine public participation (Forester, 1989). The writers were not naïve; none expected the socio-political elite, nor those wielding the power of Capital (as described by Karl Marx, 1971) or today’s Corporate-Capital, nor those with the powers of State, would be persuaded to surrender power to the people. These ideas had profound implications around the world, in all fields of endeavour; perhaps most especially in education – from adult literacy to postgraduate studies, including planning schools (Friere, 1970; Innes, 1995; Sandercock, 1998). By making inequities visible, and cataloguing social dynamics, intersections, and differentials of power, Habermas served as a catalyst for planning theorists stimulating new discourses in public planning (Habermas, 1979; Schon, 1983; Forester, 1989; Healey, 1996). Public planning was well situated to facilitate social transformation, (or to continue perpetuating the status quo). Planning could shift from rational comprehensive, built-form centered approaches to approaches fully integrating the public, placing people at the centre, and empowering them to participate (Friedmann, 1987). Planners were realizing they could bring historically silenced voices, and marginalized people to decision-making tables with government and business (Watson and Gibson, 1995; Sandercock, 1998b). They were learning the value of situated knowledges, and of the obstacles they present to the public in the role of “expert”; they were realizing the qualitative differences in directing and facilitating participatory processes – and much more. Emerging theories and experiments in public planning sought to mitigate or overcome inequitable distributions of power (Campbell and Fainstein, 1996). By utilizing conventional resources (e.g., information, space, staff, expert knowledge, budget), and facilitating progressive processes, planners could engage on a widening range of issues and objectives through participatory planning (Forester, 1989). Furthermore, planners were learning that oppression, bias, and discrimination could be excluded from planning. Thus began a radical divergence in planning, a re/turn to participating with the public in backyards and across fences. (Grabow and Heskin, 1973; Andruss et al, 1990; Moore, 1991) 20 However, redistribution of power is challenging for those who wield it. Not all planners, politicians, and bureaucrats are willing or able to engage with the public on an equitable basis (Friedmann, 1987). It is also challenging for those learning to wield it and there is no guarantee that previously disempowered people will more responsibly and equitably handle power. It is also challenging for planners who would choose radical planning (Forester, 1999). Despite the prominence federal, provincial, and municipal governments have given to public participation, those who would facilitate participatory processes for meaningful, affective, public participation are labeled ‘radical’. Thereby the very processes they seek to counter-act could move them to the margins of planning, and jeopardize their career. Still, for many planners and researchers there can be no turning their back on democratizing and empowering processes. They understand the value and need for social transformation, (within and among individuals, organizations, communities, and society), which is inherent in genuine participatory planning; they recognize the power inherent in their role as planner (educated, professional, hegemonic), and that true participatory planning requires they relinquish it and stand on even ground with the public. They also recognize the need to learn new attitudes, capacities, and practices; unlearn some old ones, and integrate the cumulative effects into their personal and professional lives. Furthermore, they know this entails ongoing reflexive, responsive, and iterative learning, both personally and professionally. Although the personal rewards of such an approach could be rich and deeply satisfying, realizing the holistic benefits of this approach professionally could be rare for planners employed by governments and business, even non-governmental organizations – in other words, for those planners facilitating public participatory processes. Interestingly, there are two definitions of ‘radical’ that could be used to describe its meaning in ‘radical planning’ (ITP Nelson, 1997). One refers to an extreme divergence from what has been established; the other refers to arising from or going to the source. Both definitions are apropos to radical planning theory and practices. That radical planning is predominantly labeled as an extreme divergence serves those threatened by equitable distributions of power. Perpetuation of this view could simply be a manipulation of knowledge of the kind that Habermas, et al critiqued. Aside from the obvious – that it does diverge radically - it could be argued that the extremity of divergence should more appropriately be understood as a measure of the distance public planning has put itself from the public. Thus the appropriateness of the second definition, which in terms of public planning could more accurately be described as arising from and returning to the public. The stigma of the first definition had prompted some planners to rename radical planning “transformative planning” or “progressive planning”. However, the second definition’s accuracy in idea and practice was the compelling reason this project chose to keep the name “radical planning”. Additionally, it offers an irresistible opportunity for radical planners to own, embody, and redefine the term, in the same way that “Blacks” took ownership of that once racist epithet; as gays and lesbians now proudly own the homophobically coined “Queer”. 21 Moreover, the definition of arising from and returning to the public, also captures ‘the public’ in a postmodern sense. Radical planners are aware ‘the public’ are not of one mind, neither are the ‘disenfranchised public’, nor are State, business, and Corporate/Capital. (Campbell and Fainstein, 1996; Healey, 1997; Sandercock, 1998b) Yet all do not share that postmodern paradigm, and so persists the assumption that people united by a common denominator, (e.g., language, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, class, small businesses, or local governments), are a homogeneous group. Unpredictable allies and partnerships form, come apart, and evolve in response to issues and project proposals.  Radical planners view the divide between public planner and planned public, researcher and research subject as elitist constructs. They reject the established simplistic, dualistic approaches to planning; instead they design and facilitate inclusive processes for the ‘publics’ different voices knowing they are likely to be differently affected by planning processes and outcomes. Contrary to its marginalisation within the profession, some of the most renowned planning theorists today are proponents of radical planning. Their practice and research have proven to them the necessity of bringing relevant multi/cultural, pan/scientific, and technical forms of knowledge together in community-based planning processes that participants ultimately experience as empowering, and that produce beneficial social transformation. As these titles illustrate, transformative planning theories and complementary practices have been in development for decades.  Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning  (Davidoff, 1965)  Foundations for a Radical Concept of Planning (Grabow and Heskin, 1973)  The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities (Hayden, 1981)  Planning in the Public Domain (Friedmann, 1987)  Planning in the Face of Power (Forester, 1989)  Race Equality and Planning (Thomas and Krishnarayan, 1993)  ‘Environment’ and Planning: a tale of the mundane and the sublime (Myerson and Rydin, 1994)  Towards Cosmopolis: planning for multicultural cities (1998) The touchstone for these new directions in planning has been the conviction that planning needs to change, radically. John Forester’s writings on Critical Planning Theory (1989), built on his critique of value-laden relationships of power, describe how in “planning in the face of power” each planning approach (incremental, advocacy, etc.) holds a different set of power relations, and has the capacity to mis/use information and communication for or against progressive ends. Joining the insights and critiques of power made by Habermas and Forester, Patsy Healey developed a collaborative and communicative action model for planning (1996).  She later developed a deeper critical analysis working with “the social construction of meaning and the social embeddedness of ways of thinking and acting”. She argued that in order for political communities to bring change and improvements to their neighbourhoods, planning needs to break through and go beyond its habitual 22 approach that separates “understanding urban and regional change” from “processes of governance” (1997: 30). Healey made a strong claim and laid an uncompromising challenge on planning’s doorstep. A challenge that could only be met by a radical approach to planning Perhaps the most radical of planning theorists, refers to “political communities” to characterize and discuss the role ‘the public’ has in the re/building and maintenance of society. From the smallest political unit in society, the self-empowered household – “No one can ‘liberate’ people from the outside” – to self-empowered communities – “empowerment must be seen as a process of collective self-empowerment” – and the collective reclamation of territorial and political terrains, not through forces of competition, colonization, violence, or dominance, but through democratization and reaching out in recognition of household, community, and natural world inter- dependencies (Friedmann, 1996: 469). Households and communities must cut through the socio-economic bonds of capitalism and consumerism to create territorial, economic, political, and cultural bioregions managed collaboratively by and for each region’s communities. Those structures and processes would echo and harmonize within and among regions across Earth for mutually defined and derived benefits. One of the great emancipatory movements yet to realize social change commensurate to its history and following, is that of the women’s, or feminist movement. The women’s movement has gathered momentum in planning theory with virtually no real effect in planning structures – gendered workplace hierarchy, decision-making, areas of planning (transportation and land-use planning or social planning); and virtually no real effect in planning practices in Canada. Successful pilot projects have yet to cause departmental or planning practice changes; planning conferences have yet to bring gender onto the agenda; gender and planning is not a required course in planning schools. For that matter, neither are other areas for 21st century planning contexts and issues, such as courses in cross-cultural or universal access planning. Marsha Ritzdorf makes an observation on feminist planners that is equally true for radical planners: …female planners and planning scholars have to make a conscious choice about their ‘identity’. A female planner who chooses to approach planning from a feminist perspective must be ready to be labeled and have her professional credibility, intelligence or research methodology questioned by hostile, or at best indifferent colleagues …In the planning profession, to be a feminist or interested in women’s issues is to reject explicitly much of the professional socialization of one’s training (1996: 448) Just as women planners have reservations, so too have men planners, thus very few have come out of their feminist closets. Those that have are slowly opening spaces and creating opportunities for planners poised on the other side of the closet door. While both feminist men and women planners experience negative responses, sometimes, because they are men, feminist men planners can say or do what feminist women 23 planners could, but would not. For example, teaching the history and theory of planning, Aberley includes a section on feminist planning, the handouts for which conclude in his own words: As arguably the most exciting source of new thought on topics including postmodern social theory and qualitative research methods, every student of planning would be wise to closely follow the quickly evolving body of feminist literature (1999: class handouts). This is a strong endorsement, and one a feminist woman planning instructor could, in theory, have said.  Friedmann joins feminist planning and radical planning for the “emancipatory project” they have in common. In an essay’s opening paragraph Friedmann described how thoroughly the patriarchal construction of gender[s] pervades the materially, emotionally, and psychically constructed dimensions of how people live and experience the world, motivating feminists toward emancipatory action which “means the dissolution of patriarchal relationships”(1996: 467). Of course that requires a critical mass of men, in particular, to surrender their gender based power and privilege. (Just as the end of race-based inequities and violence requires white people to surrender their power and privilege. The same for other power inequities, such as age, class, and ability.) Aberley and Friedmann set examples for feminist men, as well as inform planning with feminist theory. Friedmann’s linking of Friere’s work on “critical consciousness” movement and action research, to feminism and radical planning, is the same path along which the evaluation directed this feminist researcher. Sandercock has written extensively on gender and planning and on planning education, and her book Towards Cosmopolis gives a comprehensive discussion joining postmodern, radical, and feminist planning theories. It is a fascinating read, as well as a richly constructed case for a postmodern, multiple histories, multicultural, approach to planning, for the first quarter (at least) of the 21st century. Referring to radical planning as a “counter-hegemonic planning theory”, she underscores it “cannot be neutral with respect to race and gender”(1998: 85): I argue that a truly radical planning theory must be sensitive to the multiple forms of oppression and domination and exploitation that exist in any society and not privilege any one form of counter-analysis, such as class analysis. I apply the lens of postmodern critique to the planning theory literature in an effort to broaden the literature, to include the works of feminists and people of colour who are addressing the condition of postmodernity in constructive and progressive ways, within a revised radical democratic tradition, addressing both what is wrong with our cities, and what is wrong with our ways of seeing the world. (86) Later she makes the comment that “planners must make choices. For whom to work, and on behalf of which set of forces or struggles? The choice is not a simple one in 24 the sense that it is often posed, as a choice between top-down and bottom-up, between working for the state or working for ‘the community’” (Sandercock, 1998: 217). Observing that, in spite of difficulties, the “most promising” processes were those that had communities and the State working together, Sandercock introduces six types of literacy; these are qualities that are needed in Cosmopolis planners. TAMED, as an acronym for the literacies for planners of the 21st Century, is also an allusion to humility. TAMED planners and students of planning must learn Technical, Analytical, Multicultural, Ecological, and Design literacies. Planning in pluralities requires planners with plural literacies, which are not about expertise, but about fluency. Planners need fluent working knowledge and skill sets to facilitate the diverse public’s full realization of their potential in political community, and as persons. These literacies are needed to create participatory planning that is relevant and workable, that is carried on flows of action, information, and communication within and between groups. Literacies should be taught in planning schools , but are not;  planners (who are well educated though not experts) can practice their literacies “on the job”, thereby building their capacity for radical planning as they walk on the grass of backyards one step forward in confidence, one step forward in humbleness. 1.7 Part ic ipa to ry  Act ion  Planning  and Research The idea of citizen participation is a little like eating spinach: no one is against it in principle because it is good for you. (Arnstein, 1969) This evaluation demonstrates that participatory action planning and research have the theoretical and practical links that bioregional planner Doug Aberley challenged his students to discover – The challenge: to link “the ‘idea’ of radical planning to the practice of grass roots transformative social change” (1999). On one level, as this evaluation discovered, transformation was ultimately a central aspect of the community members’ experience; on another level transformation was the shared cumulative experience; and on yet another level, the research will inform the planning department’s housing strategies review and therein lies the potential for social transformation. Various terms and emphases are used to describe public participation and its aim of achieving equitable distribution of power and social transformation. These are the terms most commonly used: Praxis planning/research Action planning/research Collaborative planning/research Activist planning/research Participatory action planning/research Participatory planning/research Hall’s historical study on public participation showed that while each author gave a slightly different emphasis in their description, altogether they present a clear wide angle view of public participation. 25  Joins people together for radical social change (Maguire, 1987: 29)  Enables oppressed groups to acquire leverage for actions (Fals Borda and Rahman, 1991: 4)  Presents people as researchers in pursuit of answers to questions of daily struggle and survival (Tandon; 1988: 7)  Breaks down the distinction between the researchers and the researched, [the planners and the planned] (Gaventa; 1988: 19)  Acts as a flow-through mechanism between indigenous and western science (Colorado, 1988: 63)  Returns to the people legitimacy of the knowledge they are capable of producing (Fals Borda and Rahman; 1991: 15) (Hall, 1992: 31) Planning and research are two sides of one coin. On one side, good planning is impossible without the information, direction, and validation gained through research. On the other side, research cannot produce benefits when it is not followed up with action planning. Thus, the cynical image of countless research documents collecting dust in government archives, and the Canadian joke about politicians dealing with difficult decisions by funding Royal Commissions that take so long to complete that people forget the question. Self-empowering householders (to use Friedmann’s term) and self- empowering political communities arise in response to what is commonly expressed as “wasted tax payer dollars” on shelved research, and great dissatisfaction with exclusionary planning and its inadequate, inappropriate, or unwanted outcomes. Participatory action research and planning are one coin. They are the coin that could exchange exclusionary, dualistic, Modernist planning and research to planning in the 21st century: We must return to those age-old questions of values, of meaning, of the good city: but in attempting to answer those questions we must look for guidance from those hitherto excluded or marginalized; we must listen to all voices. We must respect the city of memory (the past) as it jostles with the city of desire (the present and future). We must discover the city of spirit, and invent new forms of enchantment of the built environment. The goal of planning education is not how to stuff the most facts, techniques and methods into students’ minds, but how to raise these most basic questions of values: How might we manage our co-existence in shared space? How might we live with each other, in active acceptance of all of our differences, in the multicultural cities and regions of the next [the 21st] century? And how might we live lightly and sustainably on the earth? (Sandercock, 1999:14) I do not presume to have a ‘right’ answer to questions, such as the one above, posed by those who have dedicated their lives studying the subject, yet this evaluation project does seem to point to an answer. Radical planning is coined by the two sides of research and action planning coming together. It is the currency that could exchange 26 distrust, apathy, and cynicism for trust, engagement, and interest among those who have opted out of participating. It could exchange fear, anger, and ignorance for hope, caring, and awareness in those who are threatened by equitable redistributions of power, wealth, territory, knowledge, and political-economic decision-making. People respond to what matters to them, and not everything matters the same to everyone, and so issues draw interesting and often unpredicted alliances and adversaries within and among households, communities, cities, and regions. As rising from and returning to political communities, to the public, to the backyards and fences, radical planning valorizes the exchanges made in participatory processes. This evaluation report suggests the coin of radical planning could be invaluable in the 21st century. Having said that, it should be restated that there is serious resistance to the equitable distribution of power and control, and to the transformative power/outcomes of radical planning. It should be acknowledged that radical planners/theorists, such as Friedmann, would not entirely agree with the above suggested value and role for radical planning. I hesitate to call this participatory planning…in radical practice, the elaboration of a realistic vision concerns a future for which the people are themselves responsible. Their vision, then, is more than a wish list; it is a commitment to its realization through practice. And so the role of the planner changes as well. The traditional advocate planner mediates between the state and the people of a given community, shuttling information back and forth. Whatever people may contribute to the process of decision-making, the final word is spoken by the state. The radical planner, by contrast, must draw from a potential actor, such as a community-based action group, a commitment to engage in a transformative practice of its own. The essential planning mediation is between theory and practice, where both, ultimately, belong to the people (1987: 400 underline added). Yet, as Friedmann said, “it would be wiser to bring even fragile and disputed knowledge to bear on practice (in full awareness of its limitations), and thus to enlarge and deepen the record, than to refrain from speaking out” (394). This evaluation contributes to the enlargement of the archive, if not the deepening of the records.  Participatory action research was introduced to the West when Paulo Friere, Brazil’s famed critical theorist and educator, returned to the United States to teach new community development principles and practices he had encountered in Tanzania in 1970. He sparked a broad interest in public participatory planning and research – and in particular the potential for empowering disadvantaged, disenfranchised communities (Hall, 1992). Friere, like Habermas, influenced researchers, academics, community developers, and planners during the 1960s and 1970s with his fresh and critical thinking. Their work continues to influence theorists and practitioners, especially in the social sciences. In their writings on planning, Friedmann, Forester, Healey, and Sandercock have made observations about planners that resonate with what Friere wrote about researchers in Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 27 Participatory research requires both the researcher and the researched be open to personal transformation and conscientization. (Friere, 1970)  …a model that is compatible with emancipatory practices[, t]hough not unique to feminism, the model is an important contribution in this specific formulation. Related models are those based on Paulo Freire’s work on education for critical consciousness, as well as the action-research model of Orlando Fals Bordo. (Friedmann; 1996: 469) Planners must be committed to the possibilities of a non-oppressive society. If they are not, they should not be radical planners but should go to work as policy analysts for the state (Friedmann, 1987: 306-7) What counts as knowledge, and who counts as knower? (Sandercock, 1998: 216) The planners’ skills, their degree of openness, their depth of critical awareness, and ethical integrity are directly related to facilitation of the participatory process, which is related to outcomes. No matter the scope or content of the project, whether the public is participating in core funding allocations, transportation policy development, or neighbourhood initiatives, the outcomes are directly related to the strength or weakness of their participation. Finally, the planner’s participation is reflected in, and is a reflection of, the purpose and context (discussed in earlier pages), and the project’s capacity building. It would be a misconception to think that participatory practices only work well with small numbers, or geographically tight groups, that they are too costly, time- consuming and cumbersome to apply to large numbers of people in large cities and regions; or that they are only appropriate for community or grassroots projects. Consider the following: 1) In 1989 the newly elected party of Porto Alegre, Brazil had inherited an historically clientelist “government near bankruptcy, with an inflated bureaucracy, huge gaps in service provision”, a land base owned by a handful of families, where 1.3 million resided, deeply divided by social and economic inequalities, and one third living in 250 shantytowns. That year the new Mayor and Chamber of Deputies instituted participatory budget planning; less than ten years later, by 1995, “half of the US$65 million capital budget was allocated by participatory budgeting” ( 2) 1997, Guelph, Ontario, City Council authorized staff to work with neighbourhood groups to produce a budget through public participation on community service allocations; identifying spending priorities, funding distribution, implementation and monitoring. The budget amount has 28 grown from $50,000 to $600,000. A neighbourhood representative said of the process, “Each [neighbourhood] group is individual but yet when we come to this table, we need to advocate and make decisions based on the good of the whole. I now understand the statement, what is good for you is also good for me”. (Ibid.) 3) Engaging thousands of very low-income tenants in participatory budgeting affecting local, regional and citywide spending priorities, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation allocated $18 million in its first three year cycle, providing funds for 237 local capital projects. The process was so successful that at the start of the second cycle in 2003, “individual buildings and Community Operating Units have more decision-making autonomy and greater control over their own operating and capital budgets. This new [and now decentralized] system focuses more on local engagement than corporation-wide redistribution. The Toronto Community Housing Corporation is also increasing its capacity building training for staff and tenants” (Ibid.) These three examples demonstrate that it is possible to use participatory processes with large numbers of people stretched across large urban areas, and over several years of planning, and that it can be highly effective. The above participatory planning and research examples produced innumerable community building experiences and relationships. They, undoubtedly, demonstrate that participatory planning and research can be applied to critical government responsibilities such as budget-planning and affordable housing development. Moreover, it successfully shows that all power, control, and decision-making in these areas, can be delegated to public participatory planning in the future If that is so, and it is, then what is “radical” about radical planning? The above examples demonstrate that it is not necessarily “extremely divergent” from established practices, and that it can be adopted by governments? The above examples prove the aptness of the definition of radical planning as ‘arising from and returning to’ the political community, and illustrates too, the opportunity to claim and redefine the term. A final piece on radical planning in relation to the State comes from Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC, 1999). The governance model promoted by the Canadian and First Nations governments reads like a radical political community’s manifesto. In, Aboriginal Social and Economic Development: Lessons Learned, A Summary Report, the following lessons were extracted to share here:  Possessing the rights and powers implied by self-governance allows communities to plan according to their own priorities and interests (2).  …resource control is essential for local economic development… Like control over land and resources, flexible funding arrangement allows community organizations to allocate funding to their own priorities without fitting the spending into categories determined elsewhere (3-4) 29  Effective partnerships with other governments imply shared authority and responsibility, joint investment of resources, shared liability and risk-taking, and mutual benefit (5)  Community residents planned everything that occurred  The community acknowledges every achievement with a formal ceremony and holds frequent celebrations to allow people to know each other and to help bring them together (12-13) Without ever forgetting what First Nations have endured under colonial paternalist Canadian governments, the above lessons have finally been learned, and demonstrate that governments and ‘political communities’ can actually work together in radical planning processes, and achieve outstanding win-win results. As promising as this appears, there is the lesson learned and then there is the transformation from lesson to lived reality, and of course, the lessons that come from that. Participatory Pitfalls …success is constrained by their context of use, which includes power relations between researcher and researched; researcher or funder control of dissemination and funds; the costs of research; and the location of research within traditional and hierarchical institutions… (Kemshall and Littlechild, 2000: 235) Not surprisingly, with wider acceptance, public participatory planning and research is now being co-opted, manipulated, and tokenized. It is being used to secure the interests of Left and Right, to secure exclusion or inclusion, to charge or discharge divisive positioning within or between communities. When the purpose, content, style, and context support genuine public participation then it can facilitate “people behaving more democratically toward each other, thus fighting against classism, sexism, racism, and other oppressions” (Stoecher and Bonacich, 1992: 7). However, oppression can be used and reinforced when the public’s participation is manipulated, undermined, or co- opted. Participation can be designed and facilitated in ways that give only the semblance of power redistribution, serve merely as public relations demonstrations, or are poorly supported by resources, or constrained by hidden agendas. Wittingly or not, it can enable “communities to use their newfound power to practice racial or other forms of exclusion” (Ibid.). It can also cause the public to lose momentum, become discouraged, and to distrust future participatory processes. Resistance to participatory planning could translate into strategies to reduce or eliminate the role of the public, (e.g., funding reallocation, a new project manager, institutional realignment, or new partnerships), (Breitenbach, 1997; Smith, 1998; Christian, 1998; Hiebert and Swan, 1999; Ross, Coleman, 2000). These scenarios force ethical planners to make difficult decisions that could cost them their job, search for an ally within the resistant organization, or draw out community leaders to challenge the resistance, its tokenism, and its hidden agenda. 30 1.8 Publ ic  Part ic ipa t ion  and Empowerment Originally, this evaluation project had not taken ‘empowerment’ into consideration because it had approached capacity building as it is conventionally conceived – a determinable and measurable product, skill or human resource development. However, as the research respondents downplayed the value of capacity building in the conventional instrumental sense, and repeatedly emphasized the experience as primarily empowering, the research grew to make a deeper connection to their experience.  Asking, “What is meant by empowerment?” generates a range of definitions, practices, and concerns in theoretical frameworks of liberation and social change through democratizing processes and structures. Empowerment is generally attributed to processes that are inclusive of historically oppressed, excluded, and marginalized groups of people – women, aboriginal people, impoverished people, those who have been racialised – people Other-ed by dominant political, economic, and social forces. While public participation must be crafted and facilitated to engage and support historically excluded community groups and members, it is also open to groups and members of the dominant societal forces. Although, dominant group status generally privileges its members, even within that group, the members’ gender, age, ability, class, education, and religion are axes of power differentials. However, these imbalances between and within groups can be anticipated and radical theoretical counter-balancing values and measures can be applied. In any case, hegemonic privilege or not, most people are disenfranchised from what Friedmann calls “political community”. Therefore, processes need to be facilitated to ensure all participating community members, households, and communities experience participation as empowering. Alongside the growth of public participation in planning and research is the growing understanding of the personal and social value the experience of empowerment participation inherits. (Inherits in the way candles inherit not just the flame of a burning candle passed through a crowd, but also the light, the latent transformative power of fire, the warmth of its heat, the connection/heritage to every other candle lit by the one, and the potential connection to all candle holders, the celebration of brilliance, and the sublime knowledge that all the sharing took nothing away from anyone [except the power and status experienced by the holder of the one lit candle]; rather the crowd was richly and equally endowed with the full inheritance – that is empowering). That is also a poetic description, not a definition. As of today, there is no agreement on how to define empowerment, nor a definitive way to get or be empowered, but many academics and practitioners have been “enlarging and deepening the record”.  In the same way that the community development research with the Hmong community articulated the different ways that community could be understood, the following gives ways to think about empowerment: In general, to empower means to enhance our ability to control our own lives, or to ‘develop a sense of collective influence over the social conditions of 31 one’s life’. On an individual level, this can mean drawing on inner strength to take control of a situation and assert oneself. Interpersonally, it can mean sharing resources for mutual benefit, or working together co-operatively. In professional relations, it often means facilitating and collaborating rather than prescribing and treating. Organizationally, empowerment can mean working democratically, participating equally, and sharing in decision-making and policy development in the work environment. Finally, on a societal level, empowerment is a political activity that can range from individual acts of political resistance to mass political mobilization – usually of a relatively powerless group such as blacks, lesbians and gays, women, or aboriginal people – aimed at changing the nature and distribution of power in our society (Ristock and Pennell, 1996: 2-3). The clarity of Ristock and Pennell’s descriptions provide relational types of empowerment that will be useful in this evaluation’s analysis of the community members’ PAR experience. They have also provided enough to conclude this discussion on empowerment through participation and move into a discussion of the method of research and analysis, and of capacity building and empowerment indicators. The next section discusses research methods relevant to this evaluation project, and describes particular aspects of this project. PART II METHODS …participation is something that is seldom evaluated, therefore it is difficult to know what contribution it makes to the process of regeneration (Breitenbach, 1997:167). 2.1 The PAR Project Some Richmond, B.C. community members concerned about the lack of adequate, appropriate, and affordable housing in their city, came together to determine how they could improve and increase affordable housing in their community. On the premise that City Councillors would be more likely to respond positively to evidence for more affordable housing stock, the community volunteer researchers wanted to develop that evidence through a formal method. They also wanted the authenticity of anecdotal or narrative evidence they knew could be derived from their own and other women’s experiences. As both these research objectives could be achieved through Participatory Action Research (PAR) they decided to use PAR to provide Council with the statistical and real-life information on which it could make solid decisions. 32 Some of the community volunteer researchers had recently completed a smaller project on women, poverty, and housing, sponsored by the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre (RWRC), which entailed collecting data from a variety of sources, which was ‘made real’ with quotations from women living in poverty. That project was the impetus for Richmond-specific research on women, poverty, and housing. The RWRC received funding for their proposed Richmond based research from the Status of Women Canada federal government program. By May 2003, the RWRC Program Coodinator had recruited five volunteers, four of them had worked on the previous smaller project. During the next four months they developed goals, objectives, and the research design. At the end of the fourth month another community member joined the research team; she had no previous experience working with the RWRC or any of the project team. At the same time I was hired to act as research consultant and to write their final report. My role involved me attending all their meetings, contributing guidance on issues or procedures related to, for example, confidentiality, crafting questions, and data analysis. A literature sub-committee was formed in September; by then the timeline was a more prominent factor in decision- making, so the group decided it would be more efficient for me to take a lead role in this task since I was to write the report. The research was conducted from September to December. In December it was collated for the team to individually  interpret and contemplate so that after the winter break everyone would be ready to engage in collective analysis, conclusions, and recommendations. February to March the report was drafted, discussed, edited, and finally printed. In April, at the end of their twelve-month project, a celebration was held and all interviewees, interviewers, volunteer researchers, their partners and children, and project staff were invited. It was highly rewarding for the volunteer researchers, and the women who had been interviewed felt especially honoured; it was an emotional event for everyone. Copies of the report were given to everyone who participated; to the local Members of the provincial Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and the federal Member of Parliament (MP); to the City of Richmond Planning Department, and each member of City Council received a copy. The report was available in time for inclusion in the City’s Housing Strategy Review. Unfortunately, because the RWRC had its provincial funding cut, the Program Director lost her job. Plans to follow-up distribution of the report with local media and politicians did not transpire, and there was no one to coordinate or advocate for the recommendations to be taken into account when the housing strategy was reviewed. While the PAR project goal was to provide local government with recommendations for adequate, appropriate, and affordable housing, a main objective, stated in its funding application, was to facilitate the capacity building of community members who participated as volunteer researchers. This evaluation report demonstrates the value of asking members of the public about their participation experience; it demonstrates support for some assumptions, diminishes the significance of others, and 33 introduces some surprises that could be keys to win-win successes in a range of public participation processes. 2.2 Evaluat ion In keeping with the PAR project they completed, this evaluation might have been better conceived as a participatory evaluation with the team of volunteer researchers designing the evaluation project, crafting the questions and method of research, conducting, collating and analyzing the data, and publishing their report. However, as noted at the beginning of this report that was not included in the scope of their project, and it would not have been feasible – were the researchers able to commit to a PAR style evaluation – due to the condensed time period available to complete this evaluation. However, PAR and feminist research principles and values have guided this entire evaluation process. The number of interviewees does not, on its own, support any broadly transferable insights or applications. However, in the tradition of qualitative research, the findings resulting from this evaluation are grounded in histories and bodies of theory and research presented in this report. The credibility of this evaluation is established as the findings corroborate, expand upon, or conflict with research done by others presented in this report. Rather than seeking to establish any prescriptive set of guidelines, this evaluation project seeks to open wider the ‘doors of perception’ on the role of the public in planning and research; to illustrate participatory possibilities; and to pique interest in evaluating the experience of the public. The better that experience is understood, the better it can be instrumentally valuable, as well as enabling empowerment. In its evaluation of capacity building for poverty eradication in developing countries, the United Nations stressed the importance of evaluations that truly seek to learn from the participants, in order to design project processes and capacity building that actually fit the people and their location. …using opportunities to help build capacity could in fact benefit development evaluation as a whole by restoring a balance to the one sidedness that many claim characterizes much of the external evaluation process. It could also assist in stabilizing the ever shifting perspectives of evaluation seeking to find answers to priorities that keep emerging as development emphases change. Focusing the evaluation on capacity building concerns could also help re balance the emphasis on accountability, especially when methods of assessing success in the processes of poverty of [a project] are merely goal oriented… (Maconick, 2002: 206) Much could be said about charting the course of this evaluation. If I’d known at the start of this research journey what I know now, I would have prepared differently. But I am not the only one who has learned this lesson. Drawing from the insights of others 34 who also worked with the wrong maps of assumption, Bate and Mangham are quoted here: We began with some clearly identifiable intellectual luggage, some mental freight which we considered would be of value along the route; indeed, at the onset of our journey we believed that the baggage initially selected would not only be extremely useful but was essential for all serious travelers. Over the long haul we have modified our position, trimmed our load, as it were, not necessarily by discarding everything: indeed we have added a number of pieces. Rather we have distributed the weight somewhat differently, packed our intellectual bags in a different order, and perhaps most importantly, recognized that certain ideas were little more than fashionable encumbrances… ‘Here’ is where we started, although we may well have been advised, had we asked, to start ‘elsewhere’. (1981: 1) A study conducted by Reardon to determine learning in two PAR projects seemed to have started off with similar wrong-footed research designs as Bate and Mangham, and this evaluation research: When we actually began sharing what we thought we were learning – about how it would work and how it would need to change… – we realized that wasn’t at all the way people understood the importance of that institution. We were studying the wrong species of institution. And that’s unbelievable when you think about it. We collected the surveys, we had all the statistics, we could report levels of significance. But it just didn’t mean a goddam thing to the people we were working with. (In Forester; 1999: 134) As mentioned previously, this research also began with some “intellectual luggage” -  an assumption that capacity building through participation would have significant and measurable instrumental value to the participants. However, as the findings will soon illustrate, the instrumental value of participation was not that significant. Recognizing this lead to realizing that is would be difficult to measure. Actually, it was the sense of empowerment that was of great value to the volunteer researchers, but I had not even considered it. Thus, ‘a number of pieces were added and the weight of the research was packed somewhat differently’ when the research expanded to include empowerment. 2.3 Qual i ta t i ve  Research Open-ended interview research explores people’s views of reality and allows the researcher to generate theory … produces nonstandardized information that allows researcher to make full use of differences among people … offers researchers access to people’s ideas, thoughts, and memories in their own words rather than in the words of the researcher …in this way learning from women is an antidote to centuries of ignoring women’s ideas altogether or having men speak for women …consistent with many 35 women’s interest in avoiding control over others and developing a sense of connectedness with people. (Reinharz, 1992: 18-20) A word about rigour in qualitative research and what gives the research validity and reliability. Unlike quantitative research, which is linear and can be traced backwards to double check on data and analysis, qualitative research is iterative. Each stage from formulating questions, to designing and implementing the process, to evaluation are arrived at through a process of moving back and forth in response to each other, the literature reviewed, data collected and analysed. When the various aspects and stages are congruent with each other and integrated in terms of goals and objectives, then it is possible to verify findings, and to determine with clarity when this or that type of change could improve the research process. In a research process where one person is the researcher, such as this evaluation, that person becomes responsible for the rigour in the research; they are responsible for remaining sufficiently engaged and inquisitive in order to build the iterative layers that produce verifiability and ensure the integrity of the research. Even though this is not a PAR method of evaluation, if time permitted, a draft of the Findings section would be given to each interviewee for their input. The purpose of this would be to overcome the potential for this research to misinterpret responses or misplace value and meaning. Questions about validity, bias, and accountability in qualitative research have been the subject of numerous studies, demonstrating the role and influence of the researcher in so-called objective scientific research. Objectivity is defined as a distanced, external view “uncoloured by feelings or opinions”. Taken to its logical conclusion, it is the absence of a point of view. But everyone – even a researcher – has a point of view, feelings or opinions that are impossible to set aside completely. (Barnsley and Ellis, 1992: 13) …traditional positivistic understandings of research methodologies and service evaluation present distinct criteria for academic credibility and rigour which can serve to marginalize or devalue participatory research… refuted the notion that the canons of scientific validity are necessarily free from defect, or are indeed appropriate to qualitative research methods… shown that scientific canons do not translate into practice and that improvisation and context play an important role in actual practice… have demonstrated how laboratory practices themselves create order out of disorder… drawn similar conclusions about the rationality of science. (Kemshall and Littlechild, 2000:237) And demonstrating the essential value of situated knowledge to research outcomes, whether that is the knowledge gained by people living or working with the issue or problem or the knowledge brought to the research by the researcher: 36 …both researcher and participants bring with them social histories of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and other power-associated differences in social position that reverberate throughout their interaction, whether the researcher pays attention to them or not. (Ristock and Pennell, 1996: 65) Rather than [researchers] ignoring all of [their] assumptions and opinions, declare them. Stating them and recognizing them as part of what defines the research makes it possible to examine them throughout the process … and so others can make their own judgments about what influenced the research. (Barnsley and Ellis, 1992: 13) …an emancipatory epistemology in which respondents are posed as the ‘true knowers’, in contrast to the positivist epistemology in which the expertise of researchers is prioritized. This does not mean that research expertise must be denigrated; rather, it must be used in collaboration with respondent and so- called lay knowledge. (Kemshall and Littlechild, 2000: 238) To the elitist belief in expert knowledge that permits researchers to ignore their assumptions and opinions, I add, there are also the historical and prevailing masculinist and Eurocentric chauvinisms that protect researchers’ delusions of self-control and assumptions of superiority; this permits arrogant beliefs about objectivity and one’s point of view. In his paper on marginalized voices and participatory practices, Hall is making a point about the historical exclusion of women; the same point could be made about the poor, people of colour, or people with disabilities. …women have been largely excluded from producing the dominant forms of knowledge and that the social sciences have been not only a science of male society but also a male science of society. (Hall, 1992: 20) Curiously, the proponents of positivist sciences have not investigated their assumptions about the objectivity of researcher and research. Perhaps they are without doubt; perhaps a cursory look at the landscape revealed by the question showed the same complexity, blurring, and shifting that arises when trying to define ‘the community’ or ‘the individual’; whatever the obstacle is to investigating this subject from within, self- reflection is a necessary component of the solution. 2.4 Ethica l  Planning  and Research As stated repeatedly throughout this report, simply participating or simply designing a participatory process is not, as a direct consequence, going to give rise to empowerment. Empowerment through participation is ensured (as much as any social dynamics outcome can be ensured) and protected by ethical principles that inform the 37 design of a project, the practices that facilitate the process, and the facilitators themselves, the planners/ researchers. Questions regarding ethics in participatory planning and research deserve at least a summary discussion. Sandercock notes that years of planning education do not – again, as a direct consequence – develop ethical planners (nor do they claim to and for good reason as will soon be obvious); yet there are graduates who become planners, and some of them engage in participatory processes. Borrowing Wendell Berry’s apt phrase, Sandercock sees these planners at risk of being effectively, if not intentionally, “professional itinerant vandals”. She suggests that students and planners need to explore questions on meanings and values in our global village and local multicultural contexts if we are to “live well and sustainably on the earth”. (1998:230) Forester writes about the “challenges of uncertainty about consequences and ambiguity about values, interests and preferences”.  Forester notes that “value in the world is plural and incommensurable” and “acting well depends on keen perception and responsiveness” to “unique and particular circumstances” – all of which is best served not through a mastery of skills and calculations, but through “the exercise of good judgment”. This good judgement “works to fit action to circumstance, to see general principles in the light of contextual details (and vice versa) (1999: 222-3). It is unlikely that even a four year graduate-level planning program would produce the quality of planner Forester is describing. Thus Sandercock opines that knowledge of what is good for living well and sustainably has lost vast tracts to ignorance in the growth of this information age. And while planners can practice the techniques that are most likely to ensure empowerment in participatory practices – prevent polarizing and exclusionary dynamics, facilitate inclusive consensus building processes, communicate and listen, and listen again – more than this tool kit is needed for planners to be “as finely aware of detail as they are richly responsible to diverse mandates, goals, and obligations” (Forester, 1999: 239). What Forester describes as “moral improvisational planning”, ultimately rests within the planners/ researchers themselves. It rests in their commitment to continuous learning about themselves, about the dynamics of power as identities, values, and meanings that intersect in diverse social contexts, and about what is good for the earth and all it sustains. 2.5 Presentat ion  of  Findings The findings are presented in two ways: 1) themes of capacity building, and 2) indicators of empowerment. The term ‘themes’ reflects both the difficulty in determining specific instrumental capacity building and the importance in integrating developmental capacity building. It also reflects the fact that both types are going to manifest differently in each participatory project. Therefore, thematic considerations are more helpful than lists of specific items to do or include. Empowerment indicators can be used to monitor this quality of participants’ experiences. A straightforward indicators survey could gauge 38 the pulse of the public’s participation in the evaluation at the end of the project, but also at any point during a project when facilitation might be improved. Responses to the capacity building questions are treated in the conventional manner of interpretation supported by selected quotations, and in so doing the themes emerge for discussion. The interviewees’ experiences of participation as empowering are illustrated in the form of a prime indicators matrix, and also in the form of a “narrative mosaic” for each of the fifteen indicators that arose in the findings.  The narrative mosaic is a device used by Daley and Marsiglia who wrote: …the larger number of quotes in each mosaic provides a richer and more realistic picture of the participants reflective comments than if we had used the more traditional devices of selective quotes or measures of frequency of comments. (2000: 69) This evaluation uses the mosaic for the same reasons as Daley and Marsiglia, and uses selected quotes to support or extend an analysis. This evaluation also uses the frequency of comments to produce the prime empowerment indicators matrix, and uses the “traditional device of selective quotes” to evaluate capacity building. Together, these three forms provide a graphic, a narrative, and an analytical representation of capacity building and empowerment as experienced by these volunteer researchers’ in a community-based participatory research project. At the end of the discussion of each indicator is an annotation to planners. This summary device is meant to be useful as a reference for planners/ researchers looking for direction and detail in designing and facilitating participatory processes. 2.6 Interv iewees All six interviewees are women, and all but one is over the age of 40. All are mothers, and four have children living at home with them. Four of the women have lived in Richmond for many years and have also been active volunteers in Richmond for many years. Two have not lived in Richmond as long; however, they have brought their commitment to community activism from their homelands to Richmond, where they too are active community volunteers. English is the mother tongue for four of the women; English is a second language for two of them. The year before starting their PAR research project, four of the women had participated in document research to produce an information booklet also on women, poverty, and housing in Richmond, which included short stories of women living in poverty in Richmond. When I was hired four months into their project, to act as research consultant and to write the final report, a number of documents were provided as information and orientation to the project. Other than having brief and limited acquaintance in committee work with one of the volunteer researchers several years ago, I did not know the interviewees prior to this PAR project. So, in reading the funding application for the project, the objective of building the capacity of the volunteer community-based researchers, suggested to me that the PAR project team of researchers did not have any 39 experience, training, or education to conduct the PAR project and would be learning “on the job”. Furthermore, since the PAR project was on women in poverty, it suggested to me that, in the tradition of PAR, the volunteer researchers were also women living in poverty. Although many times over the eight months of working with the research team, they gave me reason to question those assumptions, the questions were not posed aloud. Not only would it have been highly offensive to ask about income and levels of education or work experience (directly or indirectly), I did not see that it really mattered anyway, and gave the questions very little thought. During the research interviews for this evaluation it was learned that while some of the women lived on low or fixed incomes, others did not; moreover, all but one had at least one university degree. Writing about the need for academics to be taught participatory planning and research, and have the opportunity to work through the issues of knowledge and power, research control and ownership, Hall also says: Academics also do not cease to become members of the community by going to work in a university. There are countless community issues whether related to toxic dumping, homelessness, high drop out levels in local schools or unfair taxation policies, which engage us all as citizens. Academics have some skills which can contribute to community action along with the skills of others in the community. (1992: 11) As it turned out, none of the volunteer researchers had any experience with participatory research, and that provided some interesting discussions in these interviews, which will be brought forward in the next section on Findings. 2.7 The Researcher The data for this evaluation was derived through one-on-one interviews with the six community members who were the volunteer researchers for the participatory action research project, Our Voices, Our Homes: Women, Poverty, and Housing in Richmond, B.C. This was a project funded and coordinated through the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre. As the consultant and report writer, I worked with the volunteer researchers for eight months (August 2003 – March 2004), and they were familiar and comfortable with me, and quite interested in this evaluation process. …people who are working to bring about change or deliver a service often share the experience and interests of the people they work for and with. Their perspective and knowledge is valuable in defining the research questions and in carrying out the research. (Barnsley and Ellis, 1992: 13) My experience in the women, poverty, and housing PAR project provided some insight into why I chose this topic over the many other topics I could have studied. I have 40 previous experience in traditional forms of research, as a researcher and as a subject. In comparing my experience in the PAR project to my previous experiences, I now understand why the experiences with the traditional research ranged from feelings of dissatisfaction to feeling exploited and abandoned. In contrast, the PAR experience was satisfying and empowering – just as the interviewees had said. In retrospect, it is not surprising that, of all the possible questions that could have been the focal point of the evaluation of this PAR project, it was the experience of the volunteer researchers that most interested me. It should come as no surprise that it is just as complex and unsatisfying when it comes to defining or socially locating the researcher, as previously discussed difficulties in defining ‘community’ for community capacity building or ‘individual identity’ in terms of individual capacity building,. Nevertheless, it is important to do so if the research is to be a product of ethical considerations and practices. Reporting the influences and contradictions of our multiple locations is often necessary if we are to appreciate the complexity – methodological, epistemological, and political – of doing feminist empowerment research. (Ristock and Pennell, 1996: 67) Consciousness of our own locations, our subjectivities, and the narratives we construct about the work we are engaged in is a key component of research as empowerment, for these affect the ways in which we negotiate the social interactions involved in research. (65) To complete this portion of the discussion on qualitative research and to satisfy the pursuit of transparency in this evaluation research, I am a university educated, working class, white, single parent, eco-socialist-feminist with a lifetime commitment to work for universal equity in whatever ways a planner can facilitate. This is information is in addition to the self-reflexive comments and acknowledgments made previously, and I am conscious that this string of labels is likely to elicit different meanings for each reader. 2.8 In te r v i ews Originally, this evaluation was conceived to occur at two intervals during the eight months and a third interview a month after the project had ended. The idea was to capture three snapshot impressions that could also provide a tracking of personal and group changes and development as the project progressed over the eight months of the project. However, the Ethical Review Board determined that the interests of the interviewees could be better protected if the interviews were conducted after the interviewees and I were no longer working together on their PAR project. …the requirement that university researchers obtain the approval of a research ethics committee is a recognition of the potential for some kinds of 41 misuse of power to occur in the research process… These power issues are not inherently negative; nor are they neutral. They are complex and contradictory interactions that shape what can be uncovered in the research process. (Ristock and Pennell, 1996: 65) The six interviews were conducted in the interviewees’ homes or restaurants as suggested by each interviewee. The interviews were between 60 and 90 minutes in length. The questions were provided to the interviewees some days in advance of the interview to give each an opportunity to give some thought to their responses and question the questions, if they chose. The questions were open-ended. As Reinharz notes, “careful listening allows the interviewer to introduce new questions as the interview proceeds”; sometimes interviewee responses prompted me to ask further questions (1992: 21). The interviews were taped with each interviewee’s consent, and later transcribed verbatim. The transcriptions were given to the interviewees for them to edit and were returned to the researcher to make any and all indicated changes; the result was the final working copy for this evaluation. The interviewees will keep a copy of the final copy of their interview and each will receive a copy of this evaluation. To protect the interviewees’ anonymity, they are referred to as Interviewee one, Interviewee two, and so on. I tape recorded and transcribed the interviews. Each interviewee received a copy of their transcript to edit if necessary or if they desired, and finally to approve for use in this research. Approval was received from all interviewees; one of them included two corrections. Data collation and analysis was then able to begin, with the results as follows. 2.9 The Quest ions An aspect of the open-ended interview question is that sometimes something said in response, for example, to question five, is more responsive to question two. Consequently, when such a response serves a point being made about another question, it was used to support the discussion of that other question. Again, the nature of open-ended questions commonly results in uneven responses; this is most readily seen in this evaluation when, for example, the table for question four illustrates five of the six interviewees expressed a sense of responsibility (to their task, or the women they were interviewing, or the integrity of the process). Yet, the interviewee who did not mention a sense of responsibility at that point in her interview did express it elsewhere in the interview; while this could be used to support the point that all the researchers shared a sense of responsibility, it would not be used to bring the count up to six out of six. If all the comments taken from responses to other questions were included in all applicable response tables, there could be so many six out of six findings as to render the results relatively unhelpful. If the findings specific to each question were to have any applicable value for planners planning in participation with the public, it was necessary to 42 apply a rule of measure to the responses. This is a sound decision and an approach to qualitative research that is supported by the research of others as well. Investigating the value, role, and outcomes of User Involvement and Participation in Social Care, Kemshall and Littlechild, found that,  …researchers must demonstrate sufficient ‘warrant for their inferences’ by considering the plausibility and credibility of the knowledge claims they are making whilst also prioritizing respondents’ views.  (2000: 237) By supporting a discussion of the responses with selected quotes from the interviews, and providing a table that prioritizes those responses, I hope to give ‘sufficient warrant for inferences and knowledge claims. No doubt, the questions could have been crafted differently, and the interviews conducted differently, in order to produce tighter, more focused responses; as those were not part of the original conditions of this evaluation, the responses reflect the fact that both the questions and the interviews were more loose. Thus, the decision was made to construct each question’s response table on the basis of only what was said in the response. The following ten questions were designed to capture what knowledge and skills the interviewees gained through participating in the project. The questions were posed to further capture whether learning was generally progressive, related to project phases, or to particular tasks. They were open-ended enough to give the interviewee the space to talk about any connections, insights, or related comments derived from their experiences with the project. The Questions 1. Thinking back to when you decided to participate in “Our Homes, Our Voices”: what would you say contributed to your decision to participate? 2. Did you have any thoughts at that time about the skills and knowledge you might bring to the project, or learn through participating in the project? 3. Talk about your experience of the early planning phase of the project’s process – from May to August. 4. Describe your experience from September to December when the research was actually under way. 5. What was the same and what was different about your experience in the process, January to March, compared to May to August and September to December? 6. Now that the project’s completion has been celebrated, you have a copy of the report; can you talk about individual capacity building through community-based projects? 43 7. Do you see yourself becoming more or less involved with your community or such projects, or other issues based on your experience with “Our Homes, Our Voices”? 8. As this was a community-based project, could you talk about your own sense of community as a participant in the project? 9. What might you say to others about participating in such projects? 10. What would you say to planners about public participation in planning and planning research? PART III FINDINGS 3.1 Interv iew  Responses The following responses to the capacity building questions were excerpted from the larger body of responses. The average length of interviews was one hour, with a couple of the interviews being longer, and a couple being shorter. Parts of each response relate best to questions of capacity building. Other parts relate best to the unasked, but according to the interviewees, the more important and personally meaningful experience of empowerment gained through participating in the PAR project.  1. Thinking back to when you decided to participate in “Our Homes, Our Voices”: what would you say contributed to your decision to participate? The six interviewees identified eight factors contributing to their decision to participate: # of Interviewees Themes on Motivation to Participate 6/6 Desire to make a difference in the lives of others 6/6 Awareness of need to address the issues that the project will highlight 4/6 Connection to a local community service agency 3/6 Previous positive experience participating in a community-based project 2/6 Previous community activism 44 1/6 Previous relationship with members on the project’s team 1/6 Honorarium As the above findings show, there seems to be a clear connection between the awareness of inequities and their subsequent conditions, and the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Awareness came to the interviewees differently: two mentioned they could relate because they too struggle with fixed or low incomes; three said they do not have any personal experience with poverty; and one of the interviewees, unable to work due to a health condition, observed that if her condition had emerged when their family was young and establishing itself, they would not have been able to buy the home they have on the one income that supports them today. Interviewee 1: I found out just how much affordable housing was needed in Richmond, and it woke me up to the fact that we should be doing something. Interviewee 3: I meet a lot of poor people and I feel some empathy for them… it’s terrible that people in this country have to live in poverty, so I want to learn. Four of the interviewees mentioned their connection to a local community service agency, and three mentioned a previous positive experience participating in a community-based project as contributing factors. This supports some of the findings that prompted this research to expand to include empowerment indicators, and are immediately suggestive of some of those – confidence; supporting relationships; resources for help and information; networking – and will be discussed later. Interviewee 6: First, I was in the Women and Poverty Group at the Women’s Centre, and second, I am part of this society, I am a woman who is really concerned about women and housing and I wanted to know more and if I could help. These findings are similar to those of a study on community participation conducted by Daley and Marsiglia. They found that participants’ decisions to become involved were based on knowledge gained through previous community volunteer activities and a desire to work in partnership with the city to address problems related to youth and substance abuse. (2000: 70)  Annota t i on  1 to  p lanners : The top two ‘Motivation to Participate Themes’ that emerged from this question were: 1. Desire to make a difference in the lives of others 2. Awareness of need to address the issues that the project will highlight Therefore to ensure that the public finds their participatory planning/ research role meaningful, the project must respond to their desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Prior to that, awareness and/or education on the issues must be raised in order for 45 the public to agree that addressing the issues would improve the quality of life in the community. This combination seems to be a prerequisite to public participation. 2. Did you have any thoughts at that time about the skills and knowledge you might bring to the project, or learn through participating in the project? All of the interviewees had some previous knowledge about women, poverty, and housing; some of this was gained through formal education, some through volunteer community work, and some through employment in social services. None of them had previous experience in a participatory action research project, although four of them had worked together on the preceding project of gathering stories from women living in poverty. Therefore, either through their university education or their participation in the preceding project, all of the women had some skills they thought might be useful to the PAR project. # of Interviewees Themes on Knowledge & Skills 6/6 Had some knowledge and/or skills to contribute 6/6 Learned new skills and knowledge Yet, in the words of one interviewee, everyone mentioned having “learned a lot”. Two of the interviewees, Lesley and Maureen, were surprised at the extent of knowledge or skills they acquired through participating in the project even though they had degrees and years of employment in Social Work, as well as years of volunteerism in community services and advocacy,. Interviewee 4: When we got into forming the questions and the literature review, then I was learning more in terms of how to do the research question and the literature…I sort of knew a bit about that, but to learn there was so much information out there – I didn’t really know there had been so much written about it…even training the interviewers, the coordinator mentioned some things that I hadn’t really thought of before…(Q#4) Interviewee 5: …my main role during that time was with the literature review…I found that quite difficult, there was a lot to read and especially the factual stuff, the stats, I found them quite difficult to read, and I’m quite educated…I think I’ve learned a heck of a lot especially about other parts of Canada in terms of housing, so I personally learned a lot. (Q#4) It seemed important to each of the interviewees, that they could bring something of value to the project. It was also clear that their interest in participating was not to gain access to better employment or other tangible personal gains, but rather, they hoped that by participating they could learn more in order to be more helpful to others. Interviewee 3: I meet a lot of poor people and I feel I have some empathy for them and I want to learn more 46 Interviewee 2: This was the type of thing that I wanted to get involved in; here was a chance to bring theoretical knowledge to real life situations. Interviewee 5: I would learn a lot as well about issues on housing both locally and in Canada…I think of it as a two-way thing – you hope you’re giving something and you hope you’re getting something.  Annota t i on  2 to  p lanners : The top two ‘Knowledge and Skills Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: Had some knowledge and/or skills to contribute 1. Learned new skills and knowledge The interviewees all seemed to feel that they had something – knowledge, skills, interest in the issue, caring for the difficulties of others – which they could contribute to the project. No one said they participated for personal gain, or because they had spare time to fill; all these women are accomplished and lead busy lives. As they all said in their own ways, in the beginning they expected to learn something because that is the nature of working in new situations with new people, and they all said they were surprised by just how much they learned, and felt rewarded beyond expectations. Planners need to understand that community volunteers are not likely to be recruited on the basis of “what’s in it for them”, but do need to see they have something that would contribute in some way to achieving the goal of the project. 3. Talk about your experience of the early planning phase of the project’s process – from May to August. Responses to this question seem to reflect the extent of interviewees’ comfort or discomfort with the scope of the project. Those with a greater sense of comfort described this stage of the project as enjoyable as they reflected on how the group designed the project, identifying goals, tasks, and how to find women to interview and to be interviewers. Interviewee 4: I liked the beginning of the project, I like talking about the issues and how we would do it, because I like problem-solving; how are we going to do this, what’s our goal…what information do we want…how are we going to get it? I really enjoyed the first part of the research project. Interviewee 6: I knew about women, housing, and poverty, I had an idea of that already so I could contribute, I could understand other people’s suggestions or ideas…at that time I was OK. 47 Those less comfortable with this stage expressed doubt as to whether they could achieve what they were setting out to do, or concern as to how they would get the information or women needed, and expressed relief that the project was supported by others with experience. Interviewee 1: I felt it was overwhelming, I didn’t know if we would make it or not because it was such a huge project. I wondered if there was anyone among us that had the power or ability to be able to put everything together… hiring the report writer to participate and help us gave me hope…the Coordinator was the only one of us who could do these things and she had the Women’s Centre job, so I don’t think she could have put all of it together…it had to be an outside person. Interviewee 3: It was difficult finding people to be interviewed…the Coordinator had already done a lot of work in this line so she was definitely leading and I think we were all happy to follow…for some things we had to accept her direction…we weren’t starting all on the same level. # of Interviewees * Themes on Initial Planning Phase 5/5 Realizing large and complex scope of project 3/5 Recognize need for leadership, experienced guidance & help 2/5 Expressions of curiosity, interest, optimism 1/5 Expressions of doubt or concern about achieving project goal * At this stage there were five volunteer researchers; the sixth researcher arrived at the start of the second stage. Whether they were comfortable or not with their role at this stage of the project, they shared a curiosity about the process, an interest in the tasks, and a general hopefulness or optimism. Interviewee 2: I was interested in the project and the process of research …I had not done participatory research…it is one of those theoretical debates in terms of expert knowledge, so as a participant, I wanted to see how those would work out…I wasn’t sure how in a group situation you would formulate a research project. Interviewee 6: Participatory research, I had never done that before, I wasn’t sure how I could help; it was interesting for me and I really appreciated that. Interviewee 4: I’d never done a community-based project, so I was interested to learn how it would work. Annota t i on  3 to  p lanners : The top two ‘Initial Planning Phase Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 48 1. Realizing large and complex scope of project 2. Recognize need for leadership, experienced guidance and help Planners need to allow time for people to realize the scope and complexity of what they have committed themselves to and they must have resources available in the form of leadership, experienced guidance, and practical help. 4. Describe your experience from September to December when the research was actually under way. The months September to December, were dense with research activities. Volunteer interviewers were being recruited and trained; most of the researchers participated in the interview-training course; interviewees were being recruited from several sources and through a variety of means; interviews were conducted; raw data was collated and discussed; and three of the researchers collaborated with the report writer on the literature review, searching libraries and the internet for relevant material to read and summarize for discussion with the whole group; and decisions were made as to how to proceed with drafting the report. Everyone was busy and feeling stretched and most of the activities were new to most of the researchers, and the collaborative decision-making and tasks-completion were new experiences for all the volunteer researchers. It therefore comes as no surprise that all six interviewees mentioned something about completing the tasks they had taken on; neither is it surprising that they also expressed a sense of responsibility in carrying out those tasks – and a sense of excitement and satisfaction when, after six months of preparation, their research was actually generating results that not only confirmed the knowledge that was a factor in their decision to participate in the project, but deepened and expanded upon what they knew and also gave them new knowledge. # of Interviewees Themes on Heightened Intensity Phase 6/6 Engaging with the process and tasks 5/6 Sense of responsibility 3/6 Excitement/ satisfaction with results 3/6 Connecting knowledge to real lives 2/6 Politics and poverty 1/6 Connecting with the group and the PAR process In response to this question one interviewee said, “I attended all the meetings and was impressed”. Daley and Marsiglia had a similar finding: “…some participants identified Partnership meetings and the discussions that took place in those meetings as positive experiences in there own right.” (2000: 71) 49 Daley and Marsiglia also found participants expressing similar feelings about the role of the city and the absence of political will. “…interviewees described the relationship between the city and its neighborhoods in terms of low expectations, feelings of isolation and lack of city involvement in the issues” (2000: 71). They went on to say that as the partnership began to produce qualitative improvements in their community, some of the participants began expressing a more positive view about local government. As will be seen in responses to a later question, it is reasonable to assume a similar shift of opinions if the local or provincial governments were to improve housing conditions in Richmond in response to the research provided by these interviewees. This is a critical time for a project; this is when participants’ involvement is at its peak and when changes are not easily accommodated. This is also a time when the public feels most committed and most energetic about their involvement. Outside changes, or changes that do not fully and appropriately involve the volunteer participants, will likely meet with strong opposition. Hiebert and Swan were submitted a report of this very experience to the Community Development Journal (1999) when this occurred with the Victoria, BC participatory research project in which they were participants. In that report they wrote, “At the height of involvement of participants in Positively Fit, project participants” were saying they felt enabled to be proactive; they were understanding more about HIV and healing; they felt “part of the process of creating and running the services”; and they were getting results from the HIV community that the medical community had only dreamed of getting (358). However, “the host agency was afraid of losing control to the community and losing funding dollars if they resisted the funder”, so they fired the project manager, replaced the community members names on the report with host agencies names, and re-wrote the final report to reflect a medical model of research and services; they also legally claimed the name PozFit (361). Needless to say, while a few participants are still active in this community, most have gone away. The legacy of that project will deter participation for others and shadow other participatory projects. Smith wrote about a PAR project that came to a similar end when the medical professionals and other local elites “destroyed” the highly successful village lay health workers project. They feared “greater self-reliance on the part of healthier lower classes”, who, through their participation, were developing a movement out of poverty and away from their “dependency on the local power structure for their survival” ( 1998: 199-200). Annota t i on  4 to  p lanners : The top two ‘Heightened Intensity Phase Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 1. Engaging with the process and tasks 2. Sense of responsibility 50 At this point in the project the interviewees were very involved with the many tasks of the research, including connecting with the women living in poverty and the literature on poverty and housing. They were feeling the importance of what they were doing and felt a sense of responsibility to the women, to each other, the project goal, and themselves. At this point, the volunteer researchers felt such a strong sense of solidarity and commitment that if an outside influence, or a unilateral decision had exerted any effect perceived as adverse to the project, as with the Positively Fit PAR project, the researchers could reasonably be expected to express an outrage of ownership. 5. What was the same and what was different about your experience in the process, January to March, compared to May to August and September to December? # of Interviewees * Themes on Developmental Capacity Building 5/5 Personal aha!’s 4/5 On the value of the research they have done 4/5 Personal reflections 4/5 On the value of PAR as a research method 1/5 Re-thinking the research planning * One volunteer researcher absent December to March; absence not related to this project. All the interviewees mentioned something about their experience that had a “Aha!” quality for them: for two interviewees it was in the answers they found to fundamental questions about research they had at the outset of participation; for another it was in learning new things where no new learning was expected; for another it was in realizing how well the research findings represented the real lives of real people; for another it was a sense of having “grown up” through the process, gaining the confidence to take her place alongside others – the sense of empowerment. In his dissertation on transformative learning and deliberative planning John Forester writes about the element of surprise in public participatory planning and research processes. But if, more realistically, we know that we do not know everything that will be relevant…structured unpredictability or ritualized storytelling may be the most important element that we can design to facilitate practical learning by participants about the breadth and depth of their own concerns; it exposes them to relevant but surprising, important but unforeseen, claims (facts and issues, provocations and emotional appeals, and more) that they take to matter. …If surprise is essential in the deliberations of actors with limited information and rationality, participatory rituals are the social structures that may stage and enable the unpredictable learning occasioned by such surprise. (1999: 141-2) 51 …PAR participants may find themselves learning in surprising and unpredictable ways as they participate in loosely goal-directed but ritualized performances of sharing stories together, brainstorming possibilities, listing strengths and weaknesses. (45) …oblique and surprising, nonintentional learning we must protect and even enable ourselves to do in practical situations. (152) Forester’s findings support the unanimously high value the interviewees gave to surprise – to what are called aha’s! – so much so that he recommends the space and spaciousness of the process that give rise to surprise must be protected and practiced by planners.  The interviewees’ ‘personal reflections’ theme was related to feeling responsible for their part in the project, and by extension, to people in need of affordable housing; it was also related to recognizing that “even if this team disperses and never comes together again, we’ve still had the experience of give and take and of things being reflected back to us about ourselves, that are positive, and sometimes negative, and that too is OK”.  They all made some reference to the research: one interviewee said that more time could have been planned for editing and writing the report; another was impressed with the power of PAR as a “research tool for social change”; and they all said, in one way or another, “I felt optimistic; I felt the research project was going to happen”. Annota t i on  5 to  p lanners : The top two ‘Developmental Capacity Building Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 1. Personal aha!’s 2. On the value of the research they have done When interviewing the volunteer researchers, and again when transcribing their interviews, it was my impression that the reason the ‘personal aha!” was the only unanimous theme emerging from this question, was not because they were less impressed with the results of their research, but more because they were surprised that the experience was so engaging, rewarding, educational, and interesting. That they were willing to commit themselves to many months as a volunteer in a process they knew nothing about, tells me something planners need to understand: a. The public needs to trust the host agency of the project b. They need to trust the Project Coordinator c. They need to believe in the need for the project d. They are not participating for personal gain e. That ordinary people can be compassionate and brave beyond measure f. Because of the above five points: the participating public deserves respect 52 6. Now that the project is complete, can you talk about individual capacity building through community-based projects? # of Interviewees Themes on Instrumental Capacity Building 6/6 Gained new knowledge 6/6 Gained new skills 5/6 Positive group experience 5/6 Would participate in another community project 5/6 Increased sense of connection with women in poverty 5/6 Personally satisfying experience 3/6 Pride in the research/ hope it will increase affordable housing 3/6 Project was empowering experience 2/6 On race and social location During the planning stage of this evaluation research, this question was anticipated to elicit a list of skills and types of knowledge; this was thought to be the key to understanding how to craft participatory planning and research projects for maximum benefit of the public participants, their town or community, and the planning agency. That was not the case. I believe the only reason that six of six interviewees said they had gained skill and knowledge was because they answered a direct question. Even then, no one could list any particular skills, though all said they had gained more knowledge of the issues of poverty and how they relate to housing and women. They also said they now understood how participatory research is done. Also, while the two Social Workers said they felt they could probably coordinate a participatory project, they both felt they would need support from an agency and an experienced person, and that it is a paid, not a volunteer position. Of the nine themes that emerged from the question, six of them refer in some way to the interviewees having had a positive experience – they felt pride, empowered, satisfied, connected to the women they interviewed and each other, and motivated to participate again. Every interviewee said she had acquired new skills and knowledge. One interviewee referred to acquiring new facts on women, housing, and poverty that she could bring to her advocacy work, and found the group work a new and rewarding learning context. Two interviewees talked about increased awareness of the struggle of living in poverty in Richmond, and a new appreciation for the women trying to manage households and raise children; another became aware of the relativity of privilege. Interviewee 2: A change in geographical location, is a change in social location, unlike when you’re an insider, even when I was in my homeland, as a middle class woman, I didn’t look at my position critically, at the power exercised over “the others”. [Participating in this project] it’s like having a chance to 53 wear the others’ shoes to know exactly what it feels like in that position. In terms of power, you move not only geographical distance, but you move socially as well, and that is very interesting. To me the academic knowledge is very empowering. Another interviewee was surprised to learn that poverty and its subsequent marginalisation was cross-cultural, and reflected that PAR “is a dialectic: there are two sides, you learn, and community learns from you – my ideas, my experience, and my past”. Annota t i on  6 to  p lanners : The ‘Instrumental Capacity Building Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were:  1. Positive group experience 2. Would participate in another community project 3. Increased sense of connection with women in poverty 4. Personally satisfying experience 5. Pride in the research/ hope it will increase affordable housing 6. Project was empowering experience Even after prompting, none of the six interviewees gave a list of instrumental capacity building gains, but instead offered the above six themes in their responses. In their study, Daley and Marsiglia found that as the partnership and objectives developed, ‘empowerment, collaboration, participation, planning, and decision-making” were the terms participants used to describe their experiences. (2000:70) Clearly the research had to expand to include empowerment. The above themes will be discussed further in the context of the next section, Empowerment Indicators. 7. Do you see yourself becoming more or less involved with your community, other such projects, or other issues based on your experience with “Our Homes, Our Voices”? # of Interviewees Themes on Future Involvement 6/6 Motivated to participate again 4/6 Concern regarding lack of political will to make improvements It is interesting that in one breath most of the interviewees said they found it highly rewarding and would definitely participate in another project like this one, and in the next breath, they said they were not sure what larger benefit public input will have for 54 the community because of the lack of political will to make improvements. One interviewee seesawed between the desire to make a difference and the desire to contribute to her community in ways that make a difference. Interviewee 3: It gives me a good idea to do a similar one on cats and poverty …, if a couple years down the road someone said we’re going to do a project say, with Chinese people … and how difficult it is for them to be so well educated and intelligent and yet in this society there are a lot of barriers. So that interests me although because of the language difficulties, I can’t see myself actually getting involved. So I think the project gave me an interest in this issue that I didn’t have in quite the same way, but then I say to myself what good would it do? That’s probably the biggest barrier to my getting involved because although it’s a worthwhile exercise and it’s a good thing to do as a personal thing, but do I want to invest my time in something that’s going to make a difference, rather than me just learn something…but I do enjoy this… that’s been a shift and for that reason I’d probably be interested in being involved in a team…my goal is to change the lives of women for the better. Another interviewee put it this way: …nothing had me feel that I should be less involved… the only frustration is that with some of these reports you really do wonder where are they going and are they going to have action come of them, but still that doesn’t take away from the feeling that this is a worthwhile project… I’d like to participate and I’d like to contribute. It seems that the experience of participating has its own value separate and at least equal to the value of the project. Annota t i on  7 to  p lanners : The only two ‘Future Involvement Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 1. Motivated to participate again 2. Concern regarding lack of political will to make improvements Although as a value, participation can stand on its own when it is meaningful, appropriate, and fully integrated with the decision-making process and structure, there is surely a limit to how many times, brave, compassionate, ordinary citizens are going to participate when their recommendations are not supported by political will and concrete action. 55 8. As this was a community-based project, could you talk about your own sense of community as a participant in the project? # of Interviewees Themes on Community Building 4/6 Interpersonal sense of community 3/6 Organizational/ networking sense of community 3/6 Appreciation for PAR as community building practice 3/6 Hopes/ fears about actual benefit of project to community 2/6 Community building, trust and locations of power 2/6 Social institutions and community 2/6 Community and citizenship From another analytical perspective, one of the interviewees made the same point as Yoshihama and Summerson Carr do about their work with the Hmong community; this point was also made in the previous discussion about locating the researcher. It is quoted at some length because it brings in several points that planners need to consider in crafting participatory processes. Interviewee 2: …when you say ‘community’ the usual idea that you conjure up is something that is very harmonious, people working together to get things done, but from my life experience and from my academic knowledge…there is no such place yet… we are striving toward that… so if you want to do that you look for the power differentials and try to bridge that imbalance, which is where empowerment comes from… community is not apolitical… community is already political everywhere in the world… always one group in power… when you don’t see that, then you say, “OK, this is a capacity building effort, and I’m going in and I’m a middle class woman, and I have a university degree, so now I am the expert, expert knowledge is implied, whereas you might be appropriating others’ spaces. But the thing about participatory research is that there is dialogue, you allow dialogue. Whether you listen to that or not, learn from that or not, is another matter. I think you have to be constantly doing it, but those who approach it from a power neutral position, are usually those in the dominant position…whether here in Canada or in some other part of the world. Then they assume that everything’s harmonious; they always assume that things are working fine. These points are: a. Planners must not assume ‘community’ exists, or that they know what it is. Rather the public must be allowed to emerge and form ‘community’ – around the issue, or the neighbourhood, or the event. b. Accept conflict and politics are inherent in the group process, so planners can prepare themselves to work with the dynamics, and prepare to 56 facilitate these dynamics as they arise, swell, and recede or resolve through the process. c. Be conscious of power – one’s own and that of group members and sub- groups – and the tendency to use it against others and leverage it for oneself; and prepare to facilitate toward equitable processes. d. Accept that if harmony arises, it is not permanent, celebrate the achievement, and prepare for change. Annota t i on  8 to  p lanners : The top two ‘Community Building Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 1. Interpersonal sense of community 2. Organizational/ networking sense of community Given all the discussion on difficulties in defining community, it makes sense that no one attempted to define community beyond the nearest personal reference points of their co-researchers and the supporting agency. That indicates that team-building exercises are important – in fact one interviewee said it should have been built into their structure. It also suggests that the project should match the needs and vision of the larger community of related organizations and networks – some of the interviewees observed that the fundings and the cooperation with other agencies were forthcoming in part due to the credibility and recognition the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre has established over its twenty-seven years in the community. 9. What might you say to others about participating in such projects? # of Interviewees Themes on Recommendations to Others 6/6 Recommend participation to others 5/6 Public participation benefits the community 4/6 Public participation is personally rewarding 4/6 Public participation is opportunity to learn about and meet others 3/6 Participation entails time, consensus, responsibility, commitment 2/6 No particular education or experience necessary 2/6 Public participation is democracy and citizenship in action This list of themes reads like an advertisement for public participation, so it seems fitting to adapt an advertising dictum: satisfied participants are the best advocates for 57 participatory planning – and ‘participants’ are not limited to the volunteer partners in the project. The coordinator and the research writer, were both paid for their participation, both enjoyed the people and the process, were proud of the research results, and will participate again and urge others to do so as well. The list is also a practical note to people considering a participatory project: they do not have to have any prior skills or knowledge; these processes are time consuming, and decision-making is consensual, which can be challenging; understand that people will rely on each other to follow through on tasks and work to deadlines, so once committed to the project it must be taken seriously. The responses giving rise to this theme are mirrored in the PAR project, Inner- City Kids - Adolescents Confront Life and Violence in an Urban Community, when at the end of the project the youth were asked, …what they would say “to other girls and boys their age who wanted to address issues they felt were problematic in their communities. Here is what some of them said:  Melinda: First, you have to be willing to participate. You have to have the urge to want to do something good for your community. You have to be determined and like what you are doing.  Tonesha: We’re very serious, so you have to be very serious about what you are trying to do. You have to always listen. The key is listening because if you don’t listen, you won’t know what you are doing and that will throw you off. And if you really want to be in a participatory project, you will have to know how to work in a group of kids. I like working in groups now…  Tee: They need cooperation and participation.  Blood: And friendship. I’d tell them about friendship.  Tee: And fun. It’s fun doing this.  Janine: I’d say participation, too.  Monique: And listening. They have to listen to each other.  Mase: We could tell them how good it feels to clean up your community …  Risha: They can’t have no attitudes. They need to follow rules and they need to have patience ‘cause you do have to wait on some things. And they have to work as a group so that they can get things accomplished. (McIntyre, 2000: 209-10) The youth spoke to personal and community benefits, as did the interviewees for this evaluation; on the theme of ‘participation benefits the community’, the interviewees offered comments that ranged from altruistic motivation, “It’s great to do for your community”; to interpersonal community-building processes, “Community based projects are absolutely crucial in the sense of getting there [to community harmony], it gives people a chance to have dialogue, to learn something from those that have the power and 58 those who do not, both sides”; and to the concreteness of useful end products, “I’d show them the project we did, that you can get good information”. The Social Planning and Research Council of B.C agrees that the community benefits from public participation: The fabric of every community is held together by its citizens. Our ability and desire to participate in the development of our communities is a reflection of our sense of citizenship and common values. The effects of citizen participation can be seen all around us, in our parks, schools, roads, and neighbourhoods. (SPARC-BC, 2003: 15)  Annotation 9 to planners: The top two ‘Recommendations to Others Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 1. Recommend participation to others 2. Public participation benefits the community Understand that people will talk about the project, its coordinator and lead agency; they will talk with each other, to strangers, and to their colleagues; and they will send letters to the Editor of local newspapers. If their experience is positive, and especially if they can see their efforts have brought positive change to the community, that is what they will talk about. It is on the basis of that experience that they will recommend people get involved with community planning and research. 10. What would you say to planners about public participation in planning and planning research? # of Interviewees * Themes on Recommendations to Planners 5/5 Public planning and research should be participatory, not top down 4/5 Weak public participation equals weak plans 2/5 Participate in all planning – housing, transportation, finance, sport 1/5 Public participation is democracy and citizenship in action * Response not received from one interviewee. The interviewees had a clear and unanimous message for planners: 59 Interviewee 1: The public should be involved, feedback from the public is what they need, they don’t know what to plan because they don’t know what it’s like living on the street or being poor because they have a good salary. They need the people’s participation. Interviewee 2: It’s useful to have public participation because, as we found from our own research, when planning comes from the top it doesn’t always help the people. Planning has to touch the ground in real, tangible ways. So when people are involved it helps to make the plans more workable. Interviewee 3: It’s the only thing that makes sense because the public is aware of its own needs, so without involving the public in the process you’re not going to get their needs met. Things people told us during the interviews – their problems or needs, like security and children, those kinds of things people can talk about because its what they live and without their involvement those kinds of thing could be left out of the planning. Interviewee 5: It’s a good idea; it should be part of planning anyway; whether it’s about transportation or housing or sports, the public should be participating. Interviewee 6: People know their issues better than others do so they can bring those ideas forward. Any program that the public can be involved in is going to be made better. It’s about democracy and open door policies. When the public can be involved then nothing can go on in the dark. When people are involved they also learn about how the city works – its finances, its programs, and what can be done and what can’t be done. When people are involved they take the decisions responsibly, they can feel responsible, and give relevant constructive criticism. A quote from Ritzdorf’s book support the above observations and in particular that of Interviewee 3. …the end result of an action always reflects the personal experiences of those involved in the decision-making. A simple example of this is the lack of attention to rape and personal safety in environmental design and planning, where most practitioners are men. For women, a poorly lit street, an ill-designed or poorly placed parking lot, even too much landscaping, can be a life-or-death issue. (1996: 448-9)  Many lessons were learned through the evaluation of Aboriginal social and economic development projects where capacity building was seen as the means to a variety of ends; those lessons support the interviewees’ comments and recommendations to planners. 60 Capacity cannot be imposed on communities by governments or other external actors. Instead communities must identify and build on local resources and opportunities,and an explicit effort must be made to tackle the roots, rather than the manifestations, of the problems, and greater flexibility is needed for communities to develop the policies and programs best suited to their particular needs. (HRDC, 1999: 1,7) This is a message radical planners have been listening to for several decades. Aberley described ‘status quo’ planning in much the same way as the above responses suggest: as elitist, centralized, and resistant to change, and preserving positions of power. A new dialectic is needed, one that is not founded on the erroneous assumption that duality is the underlying, fundamental quality of existence/ reality; but rather one that is holistic from broad ecological to intimate interpersonal relations of cause and effect. Referring to Grabow and Heskin, Aberley outlines, “a  paradigm of Radical Planning based upon systems change, decentralized and communal society that facilitates human development, all within the context of an ecological ethic”. (Class notes, 1999) The Radical Planner is one of us and all of us. Radical planning is planning with and for civil society, especially those sectors that have been silent and submerged. The aim of these movements is to rearrange relations of power and to bring into being a society that lives at peace with itself and its environment: has eradicated subalternity; and is striving for always greater justice, care, and community. (Friedmann, 1996: 470) Introducing the chapter, Beyond Dialogue to Transformative Learning: How Deliberative Rituals Encourage Political Judgment in Community Planning Processes, Forester describes what is ‘at stake’ when participatory planning reduces the public’s roles to anything less than full, meaningful, and affective: Much more is at stake in dialogic and argumentative processes than claims about what is or is not true (as crucial and essential as factual analyses of health risks, for example, certainly are). At stake too are issues of political membership and identity, memory and hope, confidence and competence, appreciation and respect, acknowledgment and the ability to act together. The transformations at stake are those not only of knowledge or of class structure, but of people more or less able to act practically. …we find that participatory rituals provide participants not only with dialogue and argument, but with more of relevance than they anticipate with more of value than they at first appreciate, with possible relations with others they could not foresee, and so with a literally surprising deliberative political rationality far richer than accounts of decision-making rationality or rational choice allow. (1999: 115-6) Forester’s conclusions on participation as a transformative planning practice are soundly echoed by the interviewees’ responses to these ten questions. In fact, referring back to the theme of aha! or surprise that emerged in response to question five, this 61 research has produced its own surprises. Perhaps the most prominent aha! for me has been how closely this research matches the findings of more extensive research done by many others. When I thought an emerging theme might be news, there was a let down, even though there is the comfort of corroboration. Annota t i on  10 to  planners : The top two ‘Recommendations to Planners Themes’ that emerged in response to this question were: 1. Public planning and research should be participatory, not top down 2. Weak public participation equals weak plans These two themes resonate with the earlier discussions on radical planning. They provide a critique of ‘status quo’ planning and a keen assessment of the products of top down planning. They suggest a confident claim, a right, to participation, not merely for the sake of activism, but rather for the holistic or community benefits that are more likely to be derived from planning and research when it is done with the public as fully engaged partners in the process. 3.2 Empowerment Empowerment is a widely used, or perhaps misused, term that is increasingly invoked as a challenge to conventional approaches to community research. Its relation to such research is uneasy, however, because its application remains unclear. This uncertainty reflects widespread controversy over the meaning of empowerment  and the absence of a developed framework for incorporating it in the research process. (Ristock and Pennell, 1996:1)  “It fears a thousand tiny empowerments, because it fears its professional death” (in Sandercock, 1998: 129).. That evocative sentence written about planning by Epstein and quoted in Towards Cosmopolis by Sandercock, shares something with my earlier metaphor of the power of one small candle flame. In another book, Epstein writes, It is with a certain insistence that I therefore ask that we begin to reconceptualize the writings of planning histories, not as a set of social group histories that have yet to be written, but as an encompassing view of the outcomes of planning’s practices and theories as a heterogeneous discourse between subjects, bodies, cities, and the diverse intensity of power and repression. (1998: 224-5) It is neither bold nor preposterous to suggest that every truly participatory process is fertile ground for tiny empowerments. The diversity of interests, world views, gender, age, class, ethnicity, etc., inherently bring about heterogeneous fruits from their labour that are unique to those participants and that circumstance. And, although the histories of 62 these are not even fractionally documented for the canon of planning literature, they are nonetheless written. The success of that planning process is written about in the empowerment that can be read on the faces of the newly confident, heard in the once- silenced voices, and played out in new identities and their relationships. As word of the successes through participatory planning and research spreads, it could join with the public’s spreading conviction in their right to participate in planning, and it could add credence to those who say, “Without any planning degree, I could’ve come up with a better plan than the one we’re stuck with now”. Word of participatory planning and research could spread across the fences from backyard to backyard, adding to the canon of planning literature a burgeoning body of oral histories. Unlike Epstein, I do not see these thousands of tiny empowerments leading necessarily to the pyre of professional planning. They could inspire and empower planners to reconceptualize ‘professional’, from expert authority to, for example, a compassionate, ecological, and moral improvisational facilitator – a cemif, not a CEMIF. This change of course would require different courses in the education of planners – a plan of action most authors mentioned in this document, and others, would unhesitatingly endorse. Creative naming possibilities aside, here is an example of the opportunity for Radical Planners to embody a reconceptualized planning; an opportunity to take their seats in reconceived ‘professional’ planning spaces, as compassionate, ecological, and moral improvisers facilitating planning and research processes for the people, with the people. There is growing evidence of the need for cemif’s/ Radical Planners. Daley and Marsiglia found that the failure of community participation was entirely attributable, not to participants, but to the absence of the qualities, knowledge, and skills Radical Planners could contribute. While there was high buy-in from planners and project management on the concept of public participation, there was “weak commitment to do what was necessary to involve a diverse array of community members”. There was also an absence of “sophisticated skills”; none of the planning team had the “specific knowledge, attitudes, and skills” specific to working with community groups. They noted, “scholars, educators and practitioners need to integrate leadership/power analysis as a central component of practice models” (2000: 83-4). Yoshihama and Summerson Carr concluded their research report by stating that for participatory processes to be transformative, “all participants must negotiate and balance their goals, roles, interests, and strategies”, and that reflexivity was essential for contemplating and critiquing assumptions (2002: 101). Clearly this is a role for ‘professional’ Radical Planners. 63 3.3 Empowerment  Indica tors Shared interests are not the beginning point of consensus but rather its conclusion;  and these conclusions are never final. Agreements can always be reworked as people reflect on their impacts in changing contexts. Research as empowerment fosters consensus among diverse people precisely because it affirms their connections while disrupting their assumptions. (Ristock and Pennell; 1996:11) The literature review found a variety of studies from different countries, conducted at different times over the past fifteen years, that have produced a list of empowerment indicators with many of the same indicators on all those lists. After comparing the results of these studies, the primary indicators generated by a European Union wide study became the reference list for this evaluation report (Walters, Lygo-Baker and Strkljevic, 2001). 1. Confidence 2. Knowledge 3. Skills/ Skill Development 4. Supportive Relationships 5. Resources for Help/ Info 6. Control of Choices 7. Awareness 8. Networking/Communications 9. Training/ Qualifications 10. Responsibility 11. Self-esteem 12. Understand Others & Values 13. Flexibility 14. Advice & Guidance A comparison of less comprehensive and less extensive studies demonstrates a general agreement with the EU study’s indicators, (which will be discussed in some detail under the next heading). The next list of five indicators is presented in Morrissey’s report and at a glance, parallels to the EU Study can be seen (2000: 68). 1. Skill Development 2. Relationships and Networks 3. Community Operation and Functions 4. Confidence 5. Leadership Under these five categorical indicators Morrissey listed measures for gauging the validity of the indicator. For example, under the indicator category of “Community operation and functions”, are these measures: Understand cultural awareness; Gain better understanding of how ‘community’ operates; and Gain understanding of entrenchment of power (Ibid). Morrissey’s indicators and measures match some of the EU study indicators. For example: 64 Resources for Help/ Info Control of Choices Awareness Networking/Communications Understand Others & Values Flexibility Advice & Guidance A PAR study of participation indicators for lay health promoters identified many of the same areas: Knowledge, Skills Development, Confidence, Cultural Understandings, Satisfaction, Leadership, Resources, and Training (Estable, 2001):. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements studied contextual conditions for women’s empowerment through participation, and while many indicators are not applicable to this evaluation (e.g., Illegal Dwelling Units, Households’ Hunger, Economic Headship), other indicators do match. For example, (Miraftab; 1996): Women’s Group Membership: the woman is connected to a women’s group and it’s supportive relationships and resources Women’s Group Leadership: individual women in leadership roles and women’s groups taking the lead on an issue or project Discriminatory Regulations for Women’s Ownership: a critique/understanding of power relations The preceding lists are presented in order to establish that the indicators generated by this evaluation project can be readily found in the literature reviewed for this research. Of the literature on participation reviewed for this evaluation project, some provided recommendations for the enhancement of instrumental capacity building; others provided contextual, facilitative, or community capacity building recommendations, and some made recommendations to support developmental capacities in public participation. Based on the findings in this evaluation report, if those recommendations were actually enacted in pilot participatory projects and then evaluated they would certainly score high for empowerment indicators. For example, Cox found that “empowerment-oriented models” are characterized by these four “critical contextualizations” (2002: 46): 1. A critical review of attitudes and beliefs about oneself and one’s socio- political environment. 2. The validation of ones’ experience through collective interaction. 3. Increased knowledge and skills for critical thinking and action. 4. Action taken for personal and political change. Participatory processes that integrate those four context enhancements would score well on an empowerment evaluation. The same can be said for organizations and government agencies that apply the recommendations for approach and attitude, made in Christian’s study, Empowerment and Black Communities in the UK (1998: 24): 65 1. Sensitive to issues of gender/race/class and other aspects of humanity and interaction where social inequality can emerge. 2. Utilize existing resources in the given locale in a productive manner. 3. Give people who live and work in the community an active role in the decision-making process regarding delivery of services. 4. Service recipients should participate in accountability in service delivery. 5. Training and re-training, and organizational and staff support. 6. Access to information to create equal partnerships in planning, delivery and evaluation of services. 7. Black people should be visible at all levels of the structure. These two examples are representative of similar studies reviewed. It becomes apparent that participatory planning and research projects that integrate the types of enhancements recommended in these examples would likely have participants expressing a sense of empowerment as an outcome of participating. 3.4 Indica tor  Resul ts After the first two interviews, I became concerned about the usefulness of my capacity building questions because the responses were not generating much data on the anticipated instrumental capacity building outcomes. By the end of the third interview it was clear that the interviewees were not much impressed with whatever instrumental capacity building they might have gained, but they were very inspired by the process, and by what might be its developmental capacity building. By the end of the six interviews, it was clear that the most invigorating, most inspiring, and most meaningful outcome for the volunteer researchers was empowerment. Since the purpose of this research is to learn what benefits might be gained by volunteer members of the public through participating in research and planning projects, the literature review expanded to include empowerment through public participation. The questions had been posed and responses already given. Therefore, if the research was to provide any useful data on empowerment, it would have to rely on empowerment indicators developed through the research of others. It was a concern as to whether or not the empowerment indicators generated by others’ research could be applied to this research. This was because it was neither conceived nor conducted with the objective of evaluating the interviewees’ experiences for empowerment. However, the literature showed others’ empowerment indicators might well apply to experiences of these interviewees. Finally, I decided the primary empowerment indicators arrived at through a comprehensive study conducted across the European Union by the researchers Walters, Lygo-Baker and Strkljevic, as presented in Empowerment Indicators – Combating social exclusion in Europe (2001), could be an excellent set of indicators to apply to this research. When collating the data in the interviews I had begun, it was exciting to find the EU study indicators reflected throughout the interviewees’ responses in this research. 66 This research found a different emphasis placed on several of the indicators than those of the EU study. This is not surprising in that the EU indicators are a distillation of data collected through a variety of sources: focus groups, questionnaires, workshops and interviews. The data was collected from several “key groups of players”: project beneficiaries and managers; national and local decision-makers; groups of the self- employed, the small, medium, and large businesses, and the multinational corporations; the public sector; mainstream trainers, educators, and work experience providers; and non-profit organizations, their employed beneficiaries, and unpaid beneficiaries. Interestingly the indicators of this research do not approximate the indicators that emerged from any one of the EU study’s 12 key groups; however, they do come quite close to the combined distilled results of all the groups. This might reflect the fact that a PAR project involves its community volunteer researchers in ways that have them take on tasks and decision-making responsibilities which are characteristic of different key group players: project managers, trainers, work experience providers, the self-employed, decision-makers, and empathetically connect with the beneficiaries of the project. This finding suggests people have an inherent capacity to meet any participatory planning and research challenge when adequate resources are provided. This might be a productive direction of inquiry considering it seems to be a central point in the work of Friere, Forester, and others mentioned in this research project. The first table below illustrates the variation of emphases between the EU study results and this project’s results on empowerment indicators. This project’s first four indicators are not found in the EU study’s primary indicators list – the list presented in the first table. However, they do appear on other lists generated by that study. The EU study’s 14 primary indicators were “prioritized according to their total score and identified by a minimum of three key groups of players” (36). Of all the more than “70 indicators where empowerment is observable”, the EU study found 45 of them had agreement with 75% of the total number of respondents from all the key groups (Ibid). Within that list of 45 indicators are key indicators and general indicators determined by the number of respondents in agreement with these as an indicator. In the list of 45 indicators the following ones support the first four empowerment indicators resulting from this evaluation project. ‘Participation’ as an empowerment indicator (the closest to this research’s “PAR as an empowerment indicator”) was a key indicator for the local decision-makers group, and a general indicator for the group of unpaid beneficiaries in non-profit organizations. “Commitments/Recommendations” seem to be captured by several key indicators identified by the self-employed groups and individuals: ‘Commitment’, ‘Change’, ‘Sustainability’; and by the local decision-makers and the public sector groups’ general indicator, ‘Accountability”. The non-profit sector unpaid beneficiaries provided the key indicators of ‘Evaluation’, ‘Monitoring’ and ‘Lessons Learnt’. The work experience providers said ‘Action’ was a key indicator of empowerment through participation. 67 Small, medium-sized, large and multinational companies showed “Ownership’ as a general indicator. ‘Responsibility’ was a key indicator for work experience providers and a general indicator for large and multinational companies, the public sector, and non- profits employing beneficiaries. ‘Intercultural understanding’ (the closest to “PAR, Race, New Immigrants”) was a key indicator for two groups: self-employed groups and individuals, and the non-profit organizations employing beneficiaries, who also had ‘Rights’ as a key indicator. While the work experience providers had ‘Removing Barriers’ as a general indicator. The indicator, “Enjoyment/ Satisfaction”, was not directly reflected in the indicators of the EU study. That might be because of the crafting of the questions for that study, maybe in how the responses were provided, or how they were identified and categorized afterwards. Also, the interview questions for this evaluation might have been more open-ended and the interview format might have been much looser; these could have given more allowance, perhaps even a sense of invitation to speak more personally, consequently eliciting more expressions of personal satisfaction and enjoyment in their experience of participating. Possibly, such expressions are more characteristic of participatory processes in which the participants have more control, authority, and decision-making power than the type of participatory process in which the EU study respondents were engaged. Just as the EU study narrowed its 70 indicators to 45, then to the 14 primary indicators, this research also narrowed its findings, most observably in the earlier discussion of emerging themes. Whether there were two or seven emerging themes, only the top two were highlighted as annotations to planners. Most, if not all, of the emerging themes are either referred or inferred in the EU study’s list of 45 indicators. For example, ‘Self-appraisal’, ‘Commitment’, ‘Language Proficiency’, ‘Opportunity’, ‘Listening’, ‘Reputation’, ‘Balance of Power’, ‘Self-realization’, and more. This suggests that if the group of interviewees for this evaluation were provided with the same set of questions as the respondents in the EU study, on the basis of linkages already made here, it is likely there would be more than 75% agreement with most of that study’s empowerment indicators. This leads to the conclusion that it would have been more accurate to include as an objective in the funding application for the women, poverty, and housing research project that the community volunteer researchers would be empowered through participation. That the stated objective was capacity building underscores the need to evaluate and learn about the public’s experience in participatory planning and research processes. Comparison of Empowerment Indicators 68 PAR, Capacity Building/ EU STUDY Empowerment Indicators Empowerment Indicators By Descending # of References: By Descending # of Responses: PAR as Empowering 42 Confidence Commitments/Recommendations 33 Knowledge PAR, Race, New Immigrants 28 Skills/ Skill Development Enjoyment/ Satisfaction 24 Supportive Relationships Knowledge 25 Resources for Help/ Info Skills/ Skill Development 21 Control of Choices Supportive Relationships 16 Awareness Training/ Qualifications 16 Networking/Communications Resources for Help/ Information 15 Training/ Qualifications Confidence 15 Responsibility Understanding of Others & Values 11 Self-esteem Control of Choices   7 Understand Others & Values Awareness   6 Flexibility Networking/ Communications   4 Advice & Guidance Flexibility   3 Comparing the aggregate findings of this research, as illustrated in the table above, to the findings broken down by interviewee, as illustrated in the second table below, shows that of the 15 indicators, 5 of them have unanimous agreement:  PAR as Empowering  Commitments/ Recommendations  Knowledge  Skills/ Skill Development  Training/ Qualifications Another set of five indicators find agreement with five of the six interviewees; to reiterate, that does not indicate that the interviewee that did not mention this as an indicator would not have agreed if pointedly asked, it simply indicates the number of interviewees that did mention this aspect of their experience without any particular prompting:  Enjoyment/ Satisfaction  Supportive Relationships  Resources for Help/ Information  Confidence  Understanding Others & Values Four, three, and two interviewees mentioned the final set of five indicators: 69  Control  Awareness  PAR, Race, New Immigrants  Networking/ Communications  Flexibility The question of how to measure a factor that had not been part of the original research design was resolved by tracking the number of times one of the EU study’s 14 prime indicators was mentioned, and then, how many interviewees mentioned it. The number of times an indicator was mentioned was a measure of its importance, its value to an interviewee, and then to the groups of interviewees. Therefore, although the second table shows only three of the interviewees mentioned PAR in terms of race/ people of colour, new immigrants, English language skills, country of origin experience/ education, and experience/ education in Canada as a new immigrant, the above table shows the total number of times they mentioned it was 28. Thus, this theme emerged with the third highest frequency count. They could relate their participatory experience to a number of issues, benefits, and challenges, which they felt were significant aspects for themselves, for other new immigrants and people of colour, and for whatever learning might inform future participatory processes as a result of this evaluation. Knowing the other interviewees well enough, I can say that had they been asked the question directly, they would likely have responded with similar insights, concerns, and recommendations regarding participatory processes and people of colour and new immigrants. That they did not, on their own, bring this into their response is most likely attributable to the social location, as one of the interviewees said. …those who approach it from a power neutral position, I would say, are usually those in the dominant position, usually the dominant people in power in whatever context, whether here in Canada, or in some other part of the world. This insight naturally extends into a larger discussion on social location and awareness of constructed categories of difference, their hierarchies, and power dynamics. In particular, it presents the opportunity to illustrate how variables such as context and self-identification influenced interviewees’ responses. It might be assumed that none of the interviewees were living with disabilities, or were under the age of 25, aboriginal or aged. Yet, two of the interviewees are retired seniors, and two have disabilities. Perhaps because these interviewees are very involved in family, and social and community activities, they do not identify as seniors or as having a disability. It is also interesting that of the two interviewees who were university-educated and women of colour, one was more conscious of cultural differences, and the other of racially defined power. The point being made is the same one made by an interviewee: “women of colour are not homogeneous”. The label attached to other categories of difference, (e.g., class or sexual orientation) could substitute for “women of colour”. The layering and intersecting 70 of these categories of social difference and location underline the need for Forester’s “finely aware” and “richly responsible” planners/ researchers. Those who can work well with the uncertainties and ambiguities that are the qualitative context of public participatory processes are the embodiment of Radical Planning, an approach that may have its place in multicultural, postmodern urban contexts of 21st century planning. Cautionary notes apply to processes that do not have the benefit of Radical Planners. On this point, Yoshihama and Summerson Carr found that even within the PAR literature, oppressors and oppressed are commonly presented in terms of two distinct groups that do not intersect daily – contrary to actual community dynamics. Their own research indicated that when power relations within communities are dualized, (for example between researcher and researched, academics and community/ non-academics) the actual complex and interwoven relations are obscured or negated (2002: 99). Many studies on the role of researchers in participatory processes raise the power dynamic issue between researchers and researched in this necessary but artificial dichotomy. This device is necessary for analytical clarity and helpful recommendations, but it is artificial because in practice the dividing line blurs and shifts on the basis of a number of variables. The second table below mostly illustrates agreement among the six interviewees, and hints at the complexity and intersections within a larger group. Imagine the time, effort, and radical planning presence that would be needed to develop an effective team of participatory planners/ researchers if there were thirty participants. If empowerment is to go beyond tokenism, the reality is going to be one of change and of  potential radical change. (Walters, Lygo-Baker and Strkljevic; 2001: 39) Empowerment Indicators Matrix 71 Indicators Inter- viewee 1 Inter- viewee 2 Inter- viewee 3 Inter- viewee 4 Inter- viewee 5 Inter- viewee 6 Total PAR as Empowering 2 14 11 2 5 8 42 Commitments/ Recommendation 6 3 9 5 6 4 33 PAR, Race, New Immigrants 15 3 10 28 Enjoyment/ Satisfaction 2 5 8 6 3 24 Knowledge 3 7 6 4 2 3 24 Skills/ Skill Development 2 3 5 4 5 2 22 Supportive Relationships 1 3 6 5 1 16 Training/ Qualifications 1 2 3 4 2 4 16 Resources for Help/Info 3 2 6 3 2 15 Confidence 1 1 2 4 7 15 Understanding Others & Values 2 4 1 1 2 10 Control of Choices 2 1 3 1 7 Awareness 2 1 2 2 7 Networking/ Communication 1 3 4 Flexibility 2 1 3 Recalling the discussion on non-homogeneity of groups labeled by difference, and the discussion that identified where an interviewee does not give a response, it cannot be assumed that an interviewee would give a negative response if specifically asked. Table 2 is not a profile of the interviewees. Hearing their voices in the following selections of indicator mosaics somewhat animates the matrix, but is predominantly an augmented chord of conviction in the power and value of public participation. What now follows is a mosaic-based discussion of a selection of references for each of the 15 indicators with some relevant material from the literature review. PAR as Empower ing The interviewees had three categories of references for this indicator: PAR as empowering personally, as empowering for others, and as an empowering method. PAR as Empowering Personally 72 * PAR has reinforced being involved; I haven’t done participatory research before * you are counted; you can share your ideas with other women; it is very important * this kind of thing encourages me and I want to participate in more of these projects * when I saw my name on the report, I was proud * this kind of project was good because it was a chance for us to learn * it gives women a chance to be honoured, to speak out, to participate in a serious project * I’ve grown up too, so that next time you want to do research I am not scared about being part of it – I can help more * I had a voice * PAR as Empowering for Others * People’s strengths come out; people learn and become competent and confident * people are so diverse and come with their own ideas from different backgrounds; a very different process, it is empowering; it allows everybody to contribute * giving a chance to people who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance * this gives people a chance to have dialogue, to learn something from those that have the power and those who do not * to be engaged in the community, it’s part of the democratic process * PAR as an Empowering Method * with PAR you get the stuff of real life, a descriptive sense of the quality of life * capacity building is empowering * it’s about empowerment; that your voice has worth * that is the importance of community-based projects and capacity building; it is about inclusiveness, including everybody in the community and that is very important, it is empowering people * value in the process of providing the space for everybody to be there * that’s why you need this participatory research to get those snapshots of lives and through it I’m learning lots about this topic that I’ve never thought about before * this project is related to both Richmond and Canada, and ideally it is not just about Richmond. I feel more connected to Richmond now, and also with Canada * There is no need to give more weight to the claim that participatory processes are empowering, but here is one last story from voices not often heard. The teens engaged in urban community action-planning projects for their neighbourhood in Oak Hill, Massachusetts, reported their successes gave them pride of place and ownership. They earned respect from the adults in their community. Theirs became a positive voice. They grew personally. Their abilities to articulate and work together grew and, altogether, their participatory experiences were empowering. “Here, we decide, we have the opportunity to speak our minds about the community and see that things happen” (Ross and Coleman, 2000: 43) Commitments /Recommendat ions This indicator also has three distinct sets of observations: personal commitments/ concerns, recommendations for others, and concerns/ recommendations for the research report. 73 Personal Commitments/ Concerns * I will definitely participate again * Here was a chance to bring theoretical knowledge to real life situations * If for some reason we couldn’t produce the report, we would have still learned pretty valuable things * my own goal is to change the lives of women for the better * I’m hoping it will have an impact, and even if it doesn’t, at least I’ve done my bit. * even if people take this report and file it away and don’t do anything with it, at least I’ve had my say * I could help to show others that this is part of my voice * Recommendations For Others * I would say to people who don’t get involved enough, “be involved, and don’t take it for granted” * I would encourage and recommend anyone to get involved in their community. I would say, and do say to people, “Don’t get involved if you can’t commit”, and I encourage people to make the commitment and not just say I’ll do some and if I don’t like it well I don’t have to see it through, because people are relying on you to see it through * I would say to other women, don’t be scared, and even if you don’t have any skills or background for it, you can learn and then the next project at least you know what this is about * I urge others to get involved * Concerns/ Recommendations For the Report * We are going to send our voices everywhere to government, community * How the project helps the community is in the future for us to see. I’m hoping the report itself will get to the right people and make some changes * I’m hoping we can get some more funding so we can carry on with some more of this work * I’m skeptical about whether this kind of thing does any good or not * I think the politicians aren’t going to give a damn about this * I’m hoping the City of Richmond planning department will look at it and do something about affordable housing * Ross and Coleman’s study of the urban youth found the weakest link in the participatory process was a lack of political will which resulted in some youth dropping out of the process. However, as a consequence, others were even more motivated to make positive changes and their efforts eventually prevailed. In their report on working with the Yakima Indian Nation to develop culturally appropriate cancer related health care, the authors found that the project goal became a resounding success story. However, they discovered that the Yakima placed a much higher value on the community building process and the personal tiny empowerments that made a tighter family and community weaves and reflected their spirituality (Chrisman et al, 1999). Just as the youth were empowered through their participation, their experience was not the goal, so they persevered until they brought the physical improvements to their neighbourhood. Although the health services were important for the Yakima, the services were minimally used until the Yakima were able to fully participate in service development; after that 100% of community members needing the services began using 74 them.  These two studies support the interviewees’ who said they would participate again, including those concerned about the lack of political will. They want to see the benefits of their efforts go beyond their personal rewards to an increase in the stock of affordable housing. The outcome-related difference between those two studies and the women, poverty, and housing study is that the local governments were involved in the other two. The interviewees had intended to advocate on the basis of their findings for a positive response from the City of Richmond, but the loss of provincial funding to the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre resulted in the loss of the Centre’s Coordinator who was also the PAR project Coordinator. The interviewees lost the leadership, resources, and experience of the Coordinator, and without those supports, there was no lobby to City Hall. This is an outcome-related weakness. This underlines the importance of the indicators ‘Resources for Help and Information’ and ‘Training/ Qualifications’. These concluding comments come from Barnsley and Ellis (1992:16): Research is not an end in itself. To be useful, it must be part of an action plan. Right from the start we have to be clear about how we’ll use the information we collect and analyse. Often, groups assume they’ll just write a research report and that will be action enough. They forget that, to be useful, a report has to be distributed and acted on. PAR,  Race,  New Immigran t s Relations are not fixed as either ‘power over’ and ‘power with’; rather, they form and re-form in various combinations. (Ristock and Pennell, 1996: 5) …looking at planning history from the perspective of racial inequality  is one of the surest ways of tracking the struggle for empowerment in American cities. Such tracking cannot be done by examining the experiences of the white working class, who ceased to struggle once the suburbs and white-collar employment opened up. (Thomas, 1998: 204) This indicator has three aspects: personal experience, relating with others, and underlying social forces. In Personal Experience * In my homeland I was always very active as a socially engaged person, but after coming to Canada, I find myself in another context trying to learn about the new society * I find I am in the position of reenforcing and dispelling stereotypes * I won’t say it’s all been negative: a change of geographical location is a change in social location and unlike when you’re an insider, even in my homeland as a middle class woman I didn’t look at my position critically, at the power exercised over others. It’s like having a chance to 75 wear the others’ shoes to know exactly what it feels like in that position. In terms of power, you move not only a geographical distance, but socially as well * I learned a lot, not only English. I learned more about women and that not only immigrant women have difficulty to find a place; it is everybody who has low income * I felt that, “Yes, I am activist now.” I used to be an activist * to be able to bring my perspective to the table as a person of colour, that is empowering * it is empowerment because it is something Canadian in research, Canadian experience, something for my resume * when they looked at this book they said, “Oh Mom, you are doing great! Working with other women, Canadian women” * In Relating with Others * It is not the same as a white researcher coming into the group, people look at you differently, people’s perceptions are different and I always have to work through the social location first in order to get to my credentials * It’s a challenge, and sometimes it’s a barrier and sometimes it works because people are not expecting certain things of me, then they are like, “Oh!” and they take a second look. But sometimes they’ve already made up their minds so they’re not even listening to what you’re saying * I found it very interesting that when I was interviewing women of colour, they felt a sense of community, a sense of rapport, so even at that level I am working through it, location is never separate, never out of the question, and it’s always there * I remember some statistics in our report about the high number of new immigrant women living in poverty and just today a woman came into the Women’s Centre and described the deplorable conditions of where she’s living, but she doesn’t want to go back to her home country. * I am dealing with new comers, new immigrants, and I know they have difficulty finding a place, they don’t know English, or have other difficulties, or they have kids but no job, or they come with some money in their account but it is hard for them, it was hard for us to find a place, it’s not fair * I encourage immigrant women because they really don’t feel they are part of society and their community, even if they are citizens. This gives more sense of belonging, they can say, “This is my voice, I have rights, I can participate, politics is not just for others, I can participate too.” * Underlying Social Forces * There is the location you occupy in society as a person of colour, that always impacts on everything you do, whatever skills you bring * There are the group dynamics to work through. Sometimes it could just be tokenism: you need to have a person of colour, let’s have one here. * You don’t take things that persons say personally, because in other situations the same group, the same dynamic could happen, if not me, another brown person, another white person. It’s a typical thing that repeats, it doesn’t matter who the individuals are. It’s not nice when you’re not validated but you have to keep doing that, negotiating that * With all the academic degrees you can get, it’s finally the barriers that you have to work through * Race is the defining factor, not culture * I have some Chinese friends and I can see the great sacrifices they’ve made to come from mainland China to here and how difficult it is for them to be so well educated and intelligent and yet in this society there are a lot of barriers * They are living in much more impoverished 76 circumstances while the white people are mostly upper middle class here in Richmond and even though back in China the Chinese people might be by comparison, better educated, wealthier, higher class, but now, here, economically, socially, they are much lower * because they are new they do not have Canadian experience on their resume, so because they are new nobody calls them. They are waiting for at least one of them to find a job then they can at least take a bigger place * A lady came to me; she had to move three times because of a roommate or a landlord, so then she left, she’s back home * These mosaics raise awareness on several issues, and it’s not surprising that the indicator, ‘PAR, Race and New Immigrants’, has raised many of the issues that have given birth and legitimacy to participatory practices. Citizenship and Democratic Rights is a major theme for these interviewees and for participatory planners and researchers. No matter how long people have been citizens of Canada, a democratic society, their citizenship should guarantee equality and access to employment, education, health, and welfare and much more. In return citizens are required to pay their taxes, obey the law, learn one of the official languages, and much more. Citizenship should guarantee rights to free speech, movement within the country, religious and political affiliations, and more. However, those legislated rights and equalities protected by the Constitution are not the reality lived by impoverished families in Richmond and Canada. It’s not the reality for racialised citizens, Aboriginal Canadians, lesbians or women in general. “Some of us have more capacity to participate in our communities than others. Barriers to participation include disability, poverty, literacy, discrimination, language…” (SPARC-BC, 2003: 6-7). The citizenship that promises full participation in Canadian society also promotes citizens acting to ensure those rights and equalities are not denied to anyone. As one of the interviewees said about moving to Canada, it takes time to learn enough about a new country to become an activist in the community. And as the women, poverty, and housing research found, during that time, many new immigrants are targets of racist and ethnic discrimination. They might not know what rights they have or what recourse is available to them and, if they do, many are afraid to take action on their own in fear of the repercussions. The volunteer researchers also found through their research that this dynamic, though different according to individual “differences”, is the same for everyone living in poverty, e.g., people with disabilities or mental health issues, teen mothers, elderly women. Cox argued that the role of participatory planning and research can enable “disenfranchised people to confront this monopoly of knowledge by gaining or creating their own knowledge, challenging what has been normally considered the province of experts” (2001: 50). In this way disenfranchised people also reclaim their rights to be heard and taken seriously. One of the interviewees expressed how vitally important it is to have a voice and be counted. She expressed how happy and proud she felt to be involved in the project because it empowered her voice and gave her an opportunity to have a positive “impact” 77 on the lives of poor women in Richmond. Describing participatory practices, Hall wrote they are “fundamentally about who has the right to speak, to analyze, and to act… It is a process that supports the voices from the margins” (1992: 9). Ristock and Pennell, strong proponents of participatory practices, offer a cautionary note to planners and researchers. They explained that the ideology of empowerment through participation has been co-opted by politicians, bureaucrats, and professionals, and has been reduced to “individual self-assertion, ignoring the societal factors”. Therefore, they advise “conceptualizing empowerment as including an analysis of power not only between men and women but also among women… to forge links across differences without obscuring those differences” (1996: 3-4). This is a sound approach to bring to empowerment through participation for all “Othered” groups and individuals. It is an approach that, if planners and researchers are not careful, could insinuate false or confused notions of ‘community’ and ‘community harmony’, and once insinuated can be tenacious. The notion of ‘community harmony’ was questioned by one of the interviewees for the very reasons Sandercock pinpointed when she wrote, “’a myth of community’ operates perpetually in American society to produce and implicitly legitimize racist and classist behaviour and policy” (1998: 191). Therein are failed promises of citizenship. Hall sees participatory practices as contexts for marginalized people to critique the myth of community and expose the broken promises. He observes that they are best situated for doing this because marginalized people, in the words of bell hooks, ‘look both from the outside in and from the inside out’” (1992: 7). The veracity of bell hooks’ statement is heard in the interviewees’ responses, and wise practitioners would listen especially carefully to people who can see from both sides. Liggett believes that planning can – and should be seeking to be – informed by understanding, “how women (particularly women of colour) develop strengths in cultural context that would disable them… thus, new women in old places are polymorphously destined to change some of the conditions into which their daughters will be born”. And while participation develops those strengths and changes some of those conditions, she asks practitioners to consider how “difference” can abide without subjugation to “hierarchy and exclusion”? (1996: 454) Learning from those who can see from both sides, Sandercock and Forsyth suggest planning has much to learn from them, and it must, if it’s to be relevant in the 21st century and “develop a theory and practice of planning for multiple publics” (1996: 473). I say again, Radical Planners are 21st century planners for multiple publics. Enjoyment /  Sat i s f ac t i o n This indicator also has three aspects: Personal Enjoyment/ Satisfaction, Enjoyment/ Satisfaction for Others, and Enjoyment/ Satisfaction with PAR 78 Personal Enjoyment/ Satisfaction * I was very excited about it because it was even bigger than I had thought * I think we did very well * The positive thing I get out of this is that we built a community of people, we built a team * even me, I feel pretty good about this * I think it’s been a positive experience and I’ve learned a lot from the project, the women and the material * I like problem solving, I liked talking about the issues and how we would do this, what’s our goal for this project and once we define what information we want, how are we going to get this information * I was glad and felt a sense of accomplishment, we had interviewed people, we trained interviewers, we got the results compiled and I then felt optimistic, I felt the research project was going to happen * I’ve participated; I’ve done something in the community that says, “Look, women with low incomes need better housing and better housing options.” So I’ve done my part. It makes me feel like I’ve done something * I felt so proud because I felt I am doing something linked to something * Enjoyment/ Satisfaction For Others * People can feel good about themselves, and I find it rewarding when other people can reflect that back to me, it’s very satisfying and encouraging and so you learn about yourself and you learn about other people * I think everyone feels a positive sense of this, people feel empowered, they feel proud of their participation * You’ll enjoy seeing people’s strengths come out and what people can do together and see people learn and become competent and confident and it’s all a very positive thing * Enjoyment/ Satisfaction with PAR * I had just finished working on a previous project about women and I enjoyed working on that project, I really had a sense of accomplishment, so because I had a favourable experience with the first project I decided to do this one * I just thought it would be like the first experience, that I would have a sense of accomplishment, and enjoy working with the group of women * I had already been on the women and poverty committee at the Women’s Centre and I enjoyed my involvement there, in the previous year 2002. So, when I was asked if I wanted to continue, I say “yes”, because I wanted the opportunity to contribute something to a subject I was interested in and personally, I wanted to learn more about * Lindsey and McGuinness’ study of a community PAR project cited participants experienced “personal growth and satisfaction” and a “renewed commitment” to participate in future community participatory projects (1997: 66). They identified three factors that echo the above responses as contributing to enjoyment, personal growth, and satisfaction (70):  Volunteering provides satisfaction through service to others  Effective change is valued for the difference it makes in people’s lives  Social interaction is an important benefit of participation 79 In searching for indicators of participation, Morrissey found that generally, in terms of products or instrumental gains, “people who act will get more of what they want than people who do not act”, and this obviously produces satisfaction not just in the getting, but as we learn from the responses, also in the doing (2000: 70). Knowledge There are two aspects to this indicator: knowledge prior to the project, and knowledge learned in the project. Knowledge Prior to the Project I had some knowledge of what was going on in the area and felt that I could contribute by having that knowledge * My general area of interest is in social inequality, especially in terms of gender, race, class and any other axis of * you have to at least recognize that all women are not equally powerless or powerful; there is a spectrum, and a hierarchy of women * My work has always been with people and families, families who are experiencing some of the difficulties of life, some with low income or housing problems, or family problems, and so some of that wouldn’t have been totally new to me. I suppose I hoped all of it would contribute * I knew about women housing and poverty, I had an idea of that already so I could contribute * it is dialectic: there are two sides, you learn, and the community learns from you * Knowledge Learned in the Project I learned some facts * When you do ground work is when you realize it doesn’t quite work out as it does in theory * I learned that in a real life situation, things work differently than what you learn at school * the people who do social science as opposed to biological sciences have a different mindset, they have a jargon and they are a different type of people, or their culture is different, their academic culture is different, that was new to me, but interesting * We have such a small number of subjects that it seems to me it would be hard to produce any real research out of that, it’s more of a picture of people’s lives, but snapshots of people’s lives are valuable because with them, with the small number of subjects, we are trying to say something about them and about the world, the quotes in the report really give a picture * I’ve learned a lot from the project, from the women, from the material and I’ve learned something about poverty in Richmond * I learned lots about politicians, how they ignore, or how they build other things, but don’t build for these women. I learned lots, not only about these issues, but also about the political context * A study to determine indicators of the extent of women’s participation in local settlement programs was conducted for the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. An “objective of this process is to empower women at the community level through their participation in the collection and analysis of data, thus increasing their access to knowledge about their situation and their ability to change it” (Miraftab, 1996: 80 3). This study set empowerment through knowledge as its goal and crafted the research to achieve that goal; thereby the women were also actualizing a number of instrumental and developmental objectives. By comparison, my own research (and most of the studies I have reviewed for this evaluation) is reinventing a wheel that was discarded for a better one years ago. Ski l l s /  Ski l l  Development This indicator has two aspects as well: skills acquired prior to the project and skills learned in the project. However, the former is weakly presented even though most of the interviewees mentioned their prior skills, they basically said they had skills, but had no idea if and how they might be applied to the project. It should be said that no one identified any specific skills they had prior to or as a consequence of their participation – skills were mentioned but they were more categorical. While it would have satisfied a major objective of this evaluation had this question generated a list of skills learned, i.e., instrumental capacities built, it did no more than vaguely confirm the assumption that skills are learned through participation; as to what type of skills and when they were learned, nothing can be said on the basis of this research. Skills/ Skill Development Learned in the Project * I learned some skills; being able to participate in a group all on the same project * Interviews, finding people who would participate, the training and working with the interviewing volunteers * I’ve not done social research; it’s quite different * I was glad there were enough of us that allowed people to do different things and that everybody didn’t have to do everything, so I could pick the things that I felt I could do quite easily and I didn’t get overwhelmed * We had to talk about things and figure out which things would be better, and that was good, it was a good process * Other studies identified some skills – minute taking, time management, communication – which were performed by the interviewees in the course of conducting their research, which might not have been new skills, or might not have been considered worth mentioning. However, the qualitative research interviewing skills, and the group literature review and data analysis skills, were new and valuable skills, though perhaps because they were not immediately transferable skills, they were not mentioned. Suppor t i v e  Rela t i onsh i ps There are two categories for this indicator: self in relation to the research team, and team relations. Self in Relation to the Research Team 81 * I felt we had made a great group together. I realized how smart each individual was; each one had their own knowledge, and was quite helpful * there was a period when I was still not sure, I was trying to get a feel for what was going on and to what degree they wanted me there since I had come in halfway through * I didn’t at first find people responsive to what I said I could do, but later on I think people felt that I did have something to contribute after all, that I might be useful. In the later part I think it was much easier for me too * I’ve met a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, you always get to know people better and that’s what I really enjoyed * Research Team Relationships * it’s quite exciting to see a team come together, develop trust in each other, and see different people’s skills come to the surface * taking complete strangers and forming them into a team, this was a quite different experience * that’s what team building does, you recognize diversity and you work with it, it’s a very interesting process and I quite enjoy some of this kind of community project * hearing the different viewpoints and learning from each other – that’s what team building is about * The above two perspectives on ‘Supportive Relationships’ show that the interviewees have given considerable thought to their own development and how they affect and are affected by their co-researchers. This reflexivity was not an inbuilt element of the project process, and while it reflects a general reflexivity in people, it is crucial to the success of participatory processes. This point is made at different points in Ristock and Pennell’s discussion on empowerment research: …we strive for reflexivity: that is self-awareness. We try to be aware of how we observe and affect actions and discourse, and how we attribute meanings and intentions… (1996: 48) At one point in The Deliberative Practitioner, Forester describes the emphases reflexivity is given by different scholars/ practitioners (1999: 130). One emphasis is the pragmatic value of reflexivity, “its ability to make sense of the trial-and-error- reflection- in-action of practical experience”. Another emphasizes the “insights into relationships of knowledge and power, voice and growth”. Forester offers “a transformative theory of learning that explores not only how our arguments change in dialogues and negotiations but how we change as well”. Forester’s reflexive deliberative practitioner seems to best reflect the entirety of the interviewees’ responses. Tra in i ng /  Qual i f i c a t i o n s * I have worked in the business world for many years * I have a degree in sociology, a Masters from UBC * I’m working in advocacy * in my work and in school I’ve done scientific research and written papers * the team is pretty skilled, four of the people have degrees in social sciences, and I have my own academic training * I had just finished working on a previous project about women * my social work degree and social work 82 background, my knowledge of women in poverty and housing, these I thought I could contribute * You don’t need to go to university to be involved with this kind of project. Everybody contributed in their own different way * I am part of this society * I am a Peer Support for women who come to the Women’s Centre * Participants interviewed for Lindsey and McGuiness’ research said that “egalitarian relationships” were essential and that the leadership styles are critical to success. If power dynamics are not critiqued, if participants’ – paid and volunteer – knowledge and experience are not given the same recognition and respect, the project is subject to questions of credibility and legitimacy and ultimately to failure (1997: 60).  Resources  Help / i n f o * I didn’t know if we would make it or not because it was a huge project, I was concerned about that, until we hired the report writer * It was the Coordinator who helped us understand just what we would have to do * The coordinator had already done a lot of work in this line so she was definitely leading and I think we were all happy to follow her leadership * I think you need the support of an agency * the coordinator was quite good at setting deadlines, otherwise we could have floundered for years trying to do this project * I believe projects need to have paid staff * You need a leader, it’s a process that needs to be nurtured and carried on * Resources are those people, materials, and agencies that enable the participants in understanding their role as planner/ researcher, and in completing the tasks of that role. One researcher found that the participatory process was more fruitful because of her training in community organizing and due also to the fact that she was the same “ethnic/racial group as the majority of the co-inquiry team members. She offered this to other planners/ researchers: …using the participatory action design must realize that one’s actions and inactions reflect one’s credibility, which is tightly tied to both the legitimacy and integrity of the entire process (Bailey, 1992: 71). Another study found “that communities are able to do a better job without professional interference”, and in those cases the “professional” was the expert authority. The same study identified the need to “address issues of ethnicity and cultural competence, as well as other aspects of diversity, [as] these issues will be the center of community practice rather than the margins” (Cox, 2001: 46). Again, we hear the need for resource people, planners/ researchers to have a Radical Planning approach and practice. Rather than being oppressive, hierarchical, or manipulative, Ristock and Pennell argue that responsible use of power by planners and researchers can be instrumental to project goals and those of empowerment. Furthermore, working within a “culture of 83 empowerment disentangles and reworks relations of power by making their previously obscured workings visible and therefore more open to disruption.” (1996: 10) The interviewees PAR process was facilitated by the Coordinator and myself, and with no formal training in PAR our feminist principles of inclusion, critical analysis, consensus, dialogue, and non-hierarchical structure shaped the project and guided the process. The interviewees recognized the instrumental value of the Coordinator and myself and indicated that if we had attempted to control the process and diminish their participation their experience would not have been positive or empowering. They practiced this themselves when they were interviewing women living in poverty. Some expressed pride in their capacity to create a safe and empowering context wherein vulnerable women could tell their stories. In this exchange the interviewees connected with the women and together they experienced a sense of community. This was especially evident at the wrap-up celebration where everyone involved came together for the first time to eat, talk, laugh, and in so doing, connected and gained a sense of belonging to larger inclusive community. Conf i dence * I was more sure of what the group was doing and what my role was, and what I could do, so I was more sure of what I was doing * we were feeling confidence in the sense that we were competent people, but not competent at the task * It makes me feel like I could do another one, I guess I’m more confident now; I feel confident that I could be involved in this again * I had confidence that we could produce something; I had confidence that we could do it, so when she asked if I wanted to participate again, I said, “Yes” * this has been capacity building, and with my increased confidence I think I could now coordinate a community-based research project with a committee of people * Then I learned these women too are learning so I felt more confident. * This time I think I enjoyed it more than the first project because I have more confidence now and I know what to do * As the EU study found, confidence is an empowerment factor for all participants, from the highest levels of a multinational corporation to the ground level of a community volunteer. Forester presents an account on the value of confidence for what he calls, the ‘deliberative practitioner’. Linking the empowerment indicator of  ‘Understanding Others and Values’ to ‘Confidence’, he says that time should be given to getting to know the participants and their different points of view. Only when ‘deliberative practitioners’ are confident they have learned enough to talk about what really matters to people do they have “the confidence to talk” with them. The key theme of developmental benefits or empowerment that Morrissey identified supports the experience the interviewees present above, and picks up on Forester’s observation as well: 84  A personal change in consciousness involving a movement towards control, self- confidence and the right to make decisions and determine choices (2000: 70). In the context of participatory processes, ‘Confidence’, or self-assurance, is acquired through several types of experience – knowledge gained/ enhanced/ confirmed, or skills further/ developed, or through negotiating workable relationships – which is what makes ‘Confidence’ the common denominator of empowerment indicators. Unders tand ing  Others  & Values * I found out just how much it was needed, and I was surprised to learn that there was so much poverty going on in Richmond * I was in the position that a lot of these people were in * I meet a lot of poor people and I feel empathy for them and want to learn more about how they live * I feel moved when I hear other people’s stories, and people have to hear them and hear how people are living and then maybe something will change * We can value and understand each other’s diversity and accept each other’s diversity * I’m not coming at it from the same point of view as someone living in poverty, so I’m just kind of looking at it as a community member whose concerned * I am a woman who is really concerned about women and housing * Cox’s study highlighted the condition of participatory processes that engages people in the issues and interests of different perspectives. This requires dialogue among them and learning through confrontation and reflection, to reach understanding, and ultimately a sense of community (2001). Ristock and Pennell relate their discussion on the impact women’s stories had in one of the participatory processes they studied. They noted that the “direct involvement of community groups, ensured an ‘integrated response’ in which service deliverers and service recipients exchanged ideas and jointly developed programming”, and that it was the PAR approach that “ensured authenticity and relevance in terms of the subject’s concerns and issues” (1996: 105). Cont ro l  Of  Choices * Doing individual research you have control; in a group situation there has to be some consensus * There has to be a coordinator who is able to wrap the whole thing up and bring it together * It was consensual under her leadership * When you work as part of a group other people take control of parts of it so you have to sort of let go because you can’t do everything * This was good, we controlled the idea, the discussion, and what kind of questions and interviews to do * The public wants some control over decisions that affect their community and their households; local government, project managers, funders, planners, universities, and 85 others, for many reasons, (e.g., law, expertise, profit, power), are reluctant to share control with the public. With questions of control come the issue of ownership and authority over the process and the outcome. In truly participatory processes, such as the one in which the interviewees participated, control and ownership are shared. How control and ownership manifest throughout the process is based on conditions and negotiations particular to each project, for example: common sense (who can do it), entrepreneurial spirit (who wants to try it), and external factors (funding requirements). In this way responsibility and pride in the project and its outcomes are taken personally, as well as collectively. The EU study states that, “empowerment is a process in which efforts to exert control are central”, and “participation to achieve goals, efforts to gain resources and some critical understanding of socio-political environment, are basic components of the concept of empowerment” (Walters, Lygo-Baker and Strkljevic, 2001: 8). This is a major lesson learned by Canadian governments from their involvement with Aboriginal social and economic development projects: …resource control is essential for local economic development. Control over land is common to all the success stories of Aboriginal development in Canada and the United States… effective partnerships with other governments imply shared authority and responsibility, joint investment of resources, shared liability and risk-taking, and mutual benefit (HRDC, 1999: 3, 5). Participation in processes that engage people in meaningful ways engenders a sense of capability and provides a social context that engenders a sense of belonging. In participatory processes control is not about hold and centralizing power, it is about equitably distributing power – empowering. Awareness * I grew up in the west part of Vancouver and wasn’t exposed to poor people at all * I learned more about the picture of poverty in Richmond, about women and housing and poverty and related concerns * I didn’t know very much about other women, it wasn’t clear to me that women from different cultures experience the same about poverty and housing * “Critical awareness is an essential aspect of empowerment”, and how power is critiqued, is reflected in how participation is enabled and embodied. In their EU study report, Walters, Lygo-Baker and Strkljevic, argue in favour of “more identification and observations of processes rather than adoption of indicators of events”. They arrived at the same conclusion as Ristock and Pennell (mentioned in PAR, Race, New Immigrants), that terms such as, ‘equality’, ‘racism’, or ‘wealth’, intersected and layered so complexly that a fixed working definition would be more problematic than helpful. (2001: 8) 86 The three interviewees’ comments on awareness represent the EU study’s finding. Growing up in an affluent area of Vancouver, one interviewee had not encountered poverty, (but presumably knew poverty existed), until as a community volunteer she worked with people living in poverty. It was as a volunteer researcher that she became aware of the political, structural, and systemic causes of poverty, and she began to make connections to her other areas of volunteer work; she began thinking about how she could bring about a PAR project to the benefit of two areas in particular. The second interviewee knew poverty existed in Richmond, but she had no idea how dire the circumstances of poverty were for many families, and her awareness was heightened to the need for local and provincial governments to take action. The third interviewee, a new immigrant, was shocked to learn that White Canadians experienced poverty, violence in relationships, and poor housing conditions. She was also shocked to learn that the governments ignored their suffering, just as they ignored the struggle of poor immigrants. Network i ng /  Communica t i ons * This project was the Women’s Centre’s project, held at the Women’s Centre and supported by the Women’s Centre * Connect with people; keep them involved because the issue isn’t going to go away locally or nationally, make sure everyone involved knows about the Poverty Response Committee and Housing Task Force * the Women’s Centre that has been here over twenty-five years, it has credibility and links with other agencies, local politicians and city hall. That is valuable * Involving people with Councillors, city hall, and planners from the beginning is another way of getting continuity, so that it’s not just one agency, so somewhere else something like this can be carried on * There’s nothing to add to the above comments that could make the point clearer that participatory processes are well served when, instead of working in isolation, they are working in communication with, if not in the company of, organizations, coalitions, businesses, community groups, and governments. In her report on community practice issues for the 21st century, Cox emphasizes the importance of communicative/ learning processes within community networks: The importance of collectivity in both the development of critical consciousness and in social action is at the core of these models…’critical education means to confront, reflect on, and evaluate the problems and contradictions of society in order to change them’. Although this process often begins in small groups the logical extension of concerns leads to ‘community’ with common concerns. The development of increasing numbers of interest based social movements increases the opportunity for linkage of small groups to larger efforts. (2001: 46) The absence of such a network and wider supportive community communications, the absence of linkages to other smaller groups with similar interests is a significant 87 factor contributing to the low impact the PAR report has had on City Hall, on the community of social organizations, and on other community members who work with people living in poverty in Richmond. Flex ib i l i t y * Theoretical knowledge is different from when you get down to the ground. You can’t really predict at the outset how it’s going to be and what might come up * It’s much harder actually doing it because you are working with real people, real emotions, you might say “this question I have only ten minutes”, but you’re talking to vulnerable people about something very close to them, that affects them, so you can’t be that tight * PAR is way more give and take and compromise and talking about what needs to be done * Ristock and Pennell discuss the value of flexibility in participatory research: “When engaging in empowerment research, we are often struggling with the need for flexibility so that our research can emerge and evolve through our interactions with communities…” (1996: 48). The need to craft a plan that will generate credible data, yet be responsive, is often best met through ‘triangulation’, by using three different methods to generate the data (e.g., focus group, interviews, documents analysis). Triangulation makes room for flexibility, presupposes surprises, and enables the research to capture the unexpected, rearrange design factors or adjust to changes in the research team, timelines, and tasks. Another lesson learned from the evaluation of partnerships by HRDC is the importance of flexibility: A flexible arrangement allows community organizations to allocate funding to their own priorities without fitting the spending into categories determined elsewhere…at the same time, flexible funding encourages and obliges leaders to be more accountable to community members. (1999: 4) Once the funds had been received, the funding source for the women, poverty, and housing PAR project required only that the project do what was described in the funding application and submit a full accounting for the funds along with a copy of the final report within one year of receipt of the funds. This gave the volunteer researchers tremendous leeway in terms of project planning and implementation, and it allowed for each researcher to learn in her own way and the time for her to do that, as well as the time for them to develop into a team. PART IV CONCLUSION 88 The goal of this evaluation project was to identify capacity building themes and empowerment indicators for planners and researchers to guide them in facilitating participatory processes. I believe I have achieved my part of the goal – here are the indicators. Now take these and experiment, learn, evaluate, and share the lessons learned. 4.1 Recommendat ions Recommendat ions  to  Planners A combined list of the twenty-four capacity building themes and the fifteen empowerment indicators is too long to be easily useful, therefore, the list has been synthesized. Participatory planning and research projects would benefit from integrating the following factors into their design and facilitation. In so doing, capacity building and empowerment would be organic to the process and the publics’ experiences. Instrumental Factors 1. Awareness and Education for working knowledge of the issues, problems, and context. 2. Practice and training for skills necessary to perform chosen tasks. 3. Time factored into planning to enable education, training, and “on the job” learning. Developmental Factors 1. Make it possible for participants to share control, decision-making, and responsibility. 2. Enjoyment and satisfaction are very important, and can be facilitated by flexibility in the process to enable responsiveness when needed, and by participation being meaningful and respected. 3. Recognize the value of surprises, make space for them, and validate them. 4. Group relationships/ experience is very important, make time for fresh identities and new relationships to develop. Contextual Factors 1. Facilitators have a key role, (e.g., be clear, reflexive, compassionate, deliberative, open and listening). 2. Availability/ access to adequate and appropriate resources (e.g., leadership, information, office space and equipment, help). 89 3. Connect to community organizations and networks that would value, endorse, and support the project. 4. Enable participants to relate to underlying/ surfacing issues of difference and diversity. 5. Political-economic context can undermine or support the project, so collaborate with participants to minimize or maximize on context. Additionally, this evaluation project offers three general conclusions on participatory planning and research: 1. Participatory planning and research should be in the curriculum of planning schools. 2. Participatory planning and research projects, of all types – government, public-private, community-based, academic – should evaluate participants’ experiences. 3. An archive of participatory planning and research materials is needed, (e.g., case studies, evaluations, rural and urban, and multicultural) Recommendat ions  fo r  Fur the r  Research 1. The following observation, made earlier in this report, is ripe with research possibilities: Interestingly the indicators of this research do not approximate the indicators that emerged from any one of the EU study’s 12 key groups, however, they do come quite close to the combined distilled results of all the groups. This might reflect the fact that a PAR project involves its community volunteer researchers in ways that have them take on tasks and decision-making responsibilities which are characteristic of different key group players – project managers, trainers, work experience providers, the self-employed, decision- makers and empathetically connect with the beneficiaries of the project. This finding suggests people have an inherent capacity to meet any participatory planning and research challenge when adequate resources are provided. This might be a productive direction of inquiry considering it seems to be a central point in the work of Friere, Forester, and others mentioned in this research project. 2. How can radical planning be recognized as a valuable 21st century practice? Discover i es  and Surpr i ses It is always humbling to rediscover that the more I learn the more there is to learn. This evaluation has been an opportunity to learn this lesson at personally and intellectually deeper and more complex intersections. The ‘public’ is comprised of community members, each of whom brings a history, values, and a 90 unique set of experiences to public participatory processes. As this evaluation project has shown, participation can come from an unselfish desire to make their community a better place. 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