Punking the common urban narrative

(upcoming) November 2020
Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Meeting, Toronto ON (virtual).

Planning participates in a kind of storytelling that “is not simply persuasive. It is also constitutive” (Throgmorton 2003). The capacity of planning to persuade and to constitute through stories, depends upon the socio-political structures that privilege the stories it has to tell and the futures it envisions. The stories planning tells work to shape both material outcomes but also ways of being, ways of knowing, and ways of evaluating. In order to radically rethink planning praxis, we need  to consider and value stories not only as accounts of past events. We must critically position stories as reflections of the present, and evaluate the power they reproduce into the future. When we understand planning documents and planning processes as social narratives, we must also consider how they participate in the dominant narratives of that society, who they benefit, and who they continue to burden and exclude even in the stories that tell us otherwise. For Sandercock (2003), not only does planning learn from stories, “planning is performed through story.” In this paper, I invert the statement to also call attention to which stories are performed through planning. I adapt performative narrative analysis (Reissman, 1993) to the analysis of three case stories of marginalized and alternative group placemaking events in Ottawa, Canada.

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