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Equity, Empowerment, or Participation: Prioritizing Goals in Community Design
Abstract

Abstract:

Considering the social functions of landscapes can shift the focus of multifunctional landscape research from measuring outcomes to exploring design processes. Within the field of community design, the three goals of equity, empowerment, and participation recur as keys to realizing social change. Classifying projects discussed in community design literature based on their primary focus of equity or empowerment revealed commonalities across projects. These commonalities served as a basis for defining two community design approaches: advocacy planning, based on equity; and community building, based on empowerment. Analysis of case studies of the design processes of the East Bay Greenway concept plan and the Garfield Elementary schoolyard improvement plan illustrate the differences between the two approaches. The cases demonstrate how advocacy planning can address large-scale, regional inequities, but community capacity building may be compromised in the process. In these two cases, the priorities of equity and empowerment sometimes conflicted with participatory goals, problematizing the assumption that full participation is the best and only method for achieving equity or empowerment.



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