Nonprofit and resident collaboratives : an alternative model for community participation in planning?
Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Attempts to encourage and institutionalize citizen participation in planning are fraught with tensions between democratic participation and professional expertise; the reconciliation of local or group interests with larger, citywide interests; process versus outcome; and so on. Who participates, why, on whose terms, how, and with what consequences for themselves, their neighborhoods, the decision process, and outcomes, have been the subject of numerous studies. In this context, a distinction has emerged between mere citizen involvement in planning initiated by public agencies to grassroots and bottom-up planning that originates from within neighborhoods and citizen groups and whose decisions are adopted by public agencies. Through a case study based in Madison, Wisconsin, this paper identifies an institutional alternative that addresses some of the tensions related to community participation in planning and the problems associated with collaboration: a resident-nonprofit collaborative within a larger urban context facilitative of neighborhood planning. The paper provides a brief overview of the process, identifies lessons from this process for community participation and grassroots planning, and places this experience in the larger debates on participation. It discusses the value of resident-nonprofit collaboratives within the comparative framework of alternative forms of community participation. A concluding section discusses the implications of these findings for planning practice.
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