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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Combining Artistry and Technology in Participatory Community Planning

  • Author(s): Al-Kodmany, Kheir
  • et al.

A key principle of neighborhood planning is that residents know what is best for their communities. All too often. however, community residents are put in the position of reacting to the visions of "outsiders, " planners and designers whose understanding of the neighborhood is less immediate and comprehensive. This can result in an in::omplete meeting of the minds about community design, with residents limited in their abilities to visually express their ideas andplanners and designers - however well-meaning - limited in their local perspective. This paper describes how the resources of a Geographic Information System (GIS) were combined with the talents ofa graphic artist to stimulate participatory planning in Chicago 's Pi/sen neighbor­ hood. The GIS provided community leaders. planners, architects, and designers with spatial analysis, a comprehensive set of images of the existing neighborhood. and prototypes of appropriate designs. The artist. on the other hand, translated neighborhood residents ' ideas into quick sketches. merging them into a shared vision for the community. Both of these elements - the GIS and the artist - helpedresidents to visualize past. present. andfuture neighborhood conditions, better enabling them to direct the work oftheplanners and designers. Ourfindings reinforce the view that a clearly articulated vision for the future is a key component in public participation, one that can be greatly enhanced through combining traditional and computerized visualization tools.

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