citizen and community involvement / empowerment in planning?

29 10 2007

[By Shawhin]  One theme that came up a couple times in our Iran visit was the apparent lack of citizen and/or community involvement in city planning and policy matters.  With plenty of development, debatable growth trends, “good” and “bad” projects (be it building, infrastructure, landscape, or …), and in general a very educated and aware community, it seems odd that there isn’t a ton of (and possibly little to no) community involvement in places like Tehran or Shiraz. 

Does: development + growth + public opinion + dissatisfaction with some trends = community involvement? 

I haven’t done much research in this field yet – but it looks like there’s lots of potential. 

Maybe the equation is more like: development + growth+ public opinion + dissatisfaction with some trends + external pressures against involvement = no community involvement… 

Or maybe, as I’m sure most people in the big cities would state, it is a cultural thing… Iranian’s aren’t unified, etc, etc.  I’m personally not a fan of this argument.  But I’m very curious to hear people’s thoughts on this topic.  

As an aside, and for reference: I’m involved with a transit and redevelopment project in San Francisco.  A new Transbay terminal and tower + major new development in an area in SF’s downtown are being planned.  Architects and planners are involving the community all throughout the process… and independent of that, many community groups have organized themselves and involved themselves in the project.  The people feel strongly about the transformations that will be taking place and are actively (very actively) voicing their opinions and are succeeding in driving this group of projects in directions that work with their interests.

In Tehran, for example, are there groups that engage the city in developing more desirable trends in the surge of “distasteful” residential high-rise developments on the fringes of Tehran?




2 responses

31 10 2007

I think most Tehranis that I encountered were scared of public participation in such matters in general. They don’t trust in their own power or in each other. Culturally also, it has been wrongly but strongly understood that Iranians can’t work well together (weak team work capabilities). This is a hard concept to change. It may take a few generations for them to find the required confidence.

Also, it seems that people just want a higher source (i.e. the government or the city authorities) to do things on their own and then if something goes wrong, they can be blamed. Additionaly, people seem to be busier and more stressed in Tehran than other cities I’ve been to (any where). There are many things they are worried about and the infrastructure layout of their city may not be on their priority list perhaps!? what do you think?

2 11 2007
Sar Dasteye Kelas

Wheres my sohgaati dude? It better be good.

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