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Exploring the challenges of ’inclusion’ : building trust in cross-cultural planning practice Atkey, Jill Faye

Abstract

For almost two decades, some contributors to planning literature have argued for the inclusion of voices and faces of difference. But surprisingly little attention has been paid to the challenges faced by planners in building trust and addressing questions of legitimacy in cultural communities with which the planner does not identify. We know that cross-cultural planning is being practiced, but the literature tells us little about how planners traverse boundaries in a direct and lived sense. This thesis tries to get at that 'how' question by turning the lens away from communities of difference and back on the planner. In-depth interviews were undertaken with five British Columbian planning practitioners with a broad range of interests to gain a sense of their challenges in building trust across culture. The overarching themes of the thesis are trust and legitimacy, and through this frame three major themes are identified in the data: 1) Relationships and personal connections form the basis for a great deal of cross-cultural planning and come in many forms, ranging from the personal to the professional. 2 ) The concepts of identity and positioning are deeply personal for each of the planners and given their diversity these concepts play out in various ways, but at the core for each is self-reflection. 3) Creating new and shared understandings, both between and amongst communities and between planners and communities, is integral to the work of cross-cultural planning, and indeed its hope is what makes planning possible, and is handled in a number of different ways by the planners. The findings also present a number of 'navigational tools' necessary for planning across difference. What emerges is not a 'recipe' or 'blueprint', but rather an understanding that planners who effectively interact with and are inclusive of difference learn not to predict outcomes. Instead, they learn to respond sensitively, intuitively, and creatively with what comes their way.

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