What is it and how does cultural heritage affect planning?
What is it and how does cultural heritage affect planning?
Cultural heritage could be viewed as recognizing that your community may have a particular historic feature, like my city's largely intact Victorian downtown. You then should put ordinances in place to both preserve your cultural feature and to ensure that future development happens in harmony with that.
Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.
Cultural heritage permeates our work. It is part and parcel of the community interest that we attempt to identify in the planning process.
"Estate" zones accommodate the aspiring upper middle class culture. Allowing home occupations in barns and accessory structures without permits acknowledges the desires of rural heritages to enjoy their hobby businesses without commie planners interfering. Not regulating the number of unrelated adults as a single family unit (except under building codes) is an expression of the culture of recent immigrants. Forcing every new building in Santa Fe to look like adobe comes from their cultural heritage.
Stepford-like codes cannot be imposed in a culture of rugged individualism; a relaxed "anything goes unless it truely affects health and safety" plan will never see the light of day in a gated upper middle class suburban community.
Cultural heritage is the historical trajectory of social patterns, norms of behavior and other manifestations of community life (architecture, food, social organization, art, language, etc.).
Cultural heritage impacts planning in a number of different ways. As Coragus noted, this may include natural or built features (site of a significant event, or a building of note). This issue applies as much to the physical form of a place (a great example of a style of architecture) as the meanings applied to those places (a diner that was the site of civilc rights protests). It can be important to seperate cultural heritage of a place from the people that may currently reside there, as they may not necessarily be the same. Such places may become attractions for cultural tourism and/or play a role in the local community's identity and daily functioning. In these examples, history obviously also plays a significant role (how do we remember the past of a place or a particular story? what do we choose to remember, and what to forget? - a famous civil war battle versus a brownfield site. What stories do we wish to tell?). These can also be powerful community organizing tools that may center around saving an old church as an important landmark, memorializing an event that has resonance with local residents, or scripting a new or latent story to lend an identifiable character to a place. A Cultural Landscape approach/assessment is an excellent way to get at some of these issues.
Most of the above emphasizes the "heritage" and "history" side of things.
At the same time, the cultural patterns of specific communities may require different approaches to planning and design to serve divergent needs. The way people use space, their social and economic needs, festivals, holidays, and celebrations are impacted by their cultural heritage. How does Chinatown function or exhibit needs that are different from, say, a Puerto Rican neighborhood? Or perhaps more appropriate for a community planning context - how do the specific daily needs of these different communities differ? To get even deeper, how can the process of engaging these communities and soliciting public input be structured in a way that takes advantage of distinct cultural patterns? This is as much about not scheduling meetings on cultural significant holidays as it is about understanding traditional cultural models of group organizing.
Although an international example, when I lived in Uganda, I worked with a dance and music company that used the traditional performing arts as a tool for engaging communities in identifying pressing problems and devising solutions (they worked with local communities to write plays that incorporated dance and music to outline a specific set of social problems such as health, women's rights, or infrastructure). Because the communities there are very hierarchical and structured, conventional "town meetings" with flip charts fail to get input from all residents. Women and younger residents, for example, often do not feel comfortable speaking up or contradicting older men, so they simply remain silent and their voice is notheard. A different approach was needed - a cultural appropriate one. Traditionally, song and performance is the context in which those lower down in the hierarchy are able to level social critique (singing a song about a parallel situation, for example). This approach is common throughout Africa and is often called Theatre for Development or simply Development Theatre.
Here in New Mexico, planning practices at area Pueblos and other reservations often require a different set of tools and approaches than in older New Mexico Spanish communities, Mexican immigrant communities, or Anglo communities. It often requires being sensitive to everything from how to reach these communities (do you advertise meetings at the laundromat or just through the NA listserve, for example?) to how to engage them in a way that gets at the deeper, underling needs and desires of residents.
Most of the above addresses the "culture" side of things.
Heritage tourism is one area where these two come together, addressing issues of economic development and an overt recognition of cultural patterns that may otherwise be more nacient or unarticulated. Its a thorny area because it can at times feel like the Disney-fication of culture, making local communities feel like a sideshow or that their culture has been coopted by a dominant, external force. Done well, though, it can instill pride and transfer power to community members over how their stories are told and represented - the community itself becomes its own ambassador. A good example can be found in the book "Rural Environmental Planning for Sustainable Communities" in a discussion about Tierra Amarilla in northern New Mexico.
Hope that is helpful.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose
Back when I was a "wee lass" in planning school, I remember we covered a city (can't remember which) that was dealing with an influx of Hispanics. And there was this big cultural clash- the Hispanics would like to have outdoor spaces (and parties), paint their houses bright colors, etc. The middle class white people in the neighborhood were baffled and very irritated by this. So you have two cultural heritages at work- the immigrants and the long-time residents. I think the important thing with cultural heritage is to find a way to allow people to express their heritage without infringing on the rights of others....it's a balancing act.
Wahday's post is an awesome response about how cultural heritage is related to planning, but is SundancePlanner looking for something more legal or technical?
How about historic districts? National and state heritage areas? Community-based planning initiatives that have assumed land use and regulatory controls? For example, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston gained eminent domain powers...
It could be argued that all planning has cultural and/or heritage roots...