Lost in translation: Engaging Immigrants in the Planning Process

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Information about Lost in translation: Engaging Immigrants in the Planning Process

Published on February 11, 2014

Author: HananAwad

Source: slideshare.net


Planners work hard to create livable cities and understand the importance of walkable neighbourhoods. However, little is known about the perceptions of immigrants from varying cultural backgrounds in this regard.

The presenter will offer an overview of the findings of a study of Muslim women regarding their perceptions and attitudes about living in the suburbs. The intent of the study was twofold: to identify differences between the perceptions of planning professions and those of members of the Muslim community living in the suburbs; to gain an understanding of an effective participatory process for engaging differing cultural groups.

Hanan Hussien AwadMohamed University of Waterloo


• Minority-majority relations • Polarized debate • Changing human geography • Fragmented national identity Dean Bicknell/Postmedia News

• Women as a stakeholder group in the planning process • Women as part of the urban governance Google Images

• Sprawl is not a preferred development pattern • the negative sides of the suburban sprawl such as: environmental degradation, mobility, and infrastructure costs • Suburbanism could be a development trend linked directly to the Public Choice Theory developed by Russell Hardin, Collective Choice, 1982. www.civicengagementcanada.com

Developers Real Estate Marketing Consumers Market-led Suburbanism Lending Agencies Government Policy

» In Decision Making Process: ˃The invisible visible minority ˃Stereotypes and misconceptions ˃Everyone is speaking out loud but them » In Research Studies: ˃Methodological problems ˃Interest

» K-W Region : ˃ Diverse cities (K-W is in the tenth rank when it comes to diversity ) ˃ Low-density residential suburbs ˃ Highly dependent on car as a primary transportation mode Figure 1: Proportion of the population belonging to a visible minority group by Census Metropolitan Area, Canada, 2006 and 2031 (Statistics Canada, 2010)

Waterloo Region Development Map (wonderfulwaterloo.com, 2012) The new development trend in Kitchener-Waterloo shows concentration in cities’ cores as Places to Grow assigned Downtown Kitchener, and Uptown Waterloo as growth centers (Ministry of Public Infrastructure, 2006) through intensification by infill development and buildings reuse. However, suburban developments continue on the city edges.

Kitchener Walkability Score Map

» Muslim Moms: ˃The rough estimate of Muslim women population in K-W region is 5,000, 49.7% of the female population under study are in the age groups: between 20 to 54 years old. ˃Using the sample size calculations with Confidence Level of 95% and Confidence Interval of 25%, we get a sample size of 15. ˃The recruitment process is done using local mailing lists and local associations of Muslim women in the region, ˃Data was collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires and semi-structured interviews

» To give Muslim women in the K-W region the opportunity to raise their voices and express what they value in the region » Soliciting these attitudes, expectations and opinions inform the planning process and advise on what specific public facilities and services they need » It also reveals any discrepancy between the perceptions of this group and the perceptions at-large of the planning professionals. The results might be valuable to inform the planning process by revealing the expectations of this minority group

Social Networks Primary Mode of Transportation strongly agree 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 19% 25% agree 19% 31% 6% neither agree nor disagree disagree strongly disagree Built Environment Voluntary Work 0% 13% strongly agree 13% 27% 40% 7% agree 13% 40% strongly agree neither agree nor disagree agree 20% neither agree nor disagree 27% disagree disagree strongly disagree strongly disagree

» Jargon barrier vs. language barrier Example: Walkability according to planners vs. walkability according to participants » Communicating with a human being vs. virtual communication Example: Focus groups vs. surveys » Cultural upbringing role in suburbanism » Cultural upbringing and interaction with planning professionals (asking questions, interfering in one’s life , non-verbal communication)

» The lack of visible Muslim female role models within the community is holding some women back from getting involved in the community » Second and third generations are increasingly merging into the community than new-comers » Mobility is a huge concern » Amenities and services are not enough within the neighbourhood boundaries as well as access to Halal food stores and proximity to worship places

» They also expressed their desire to have some recreational places that allow women only times , where they can gather and socialize comfortably and have fun [ such a request might be regarded as sexiest or discriminating] » Indoor vs outdoor socialization : as a result, the Muslim woman requires a spacious house to entertain friends and family and accommodate the needs of her growing family; but affordability is an obstacle for such a requirement … and isolation

» Volunteer vs. Canadian experience [ how voluntary work is promoted] » Muslim women are not approached to get involved in their communities » They appreciate local intercultural encounters, but do not know the how » They feel that they are away from the policy making process and marginalized » They are rarely approached with customized messages

» To understand factual local ethnic diversity and how cultural upbringing shape minorities’ life-style » To ask questions (don’t forget the why) » To assess how participative the participatory process and how representative your sample (away from the traditional official and popular representations ) » To differentiate between the way a specific minority uses city facilities and other stakeholder groups » Go beyond the jargon » Add the human touch » Ask yourself how to bring them into the planning process? » Think like a business

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