Endorsed by

New book to connect urban planners and Indigenous communities

A new book examining the critical role urban planning plays in delivering land justice for indigenous communities has been published.

Titled Planning for Coexistence?, the book has been written by Libby Porter, an associate professor from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research, and Janice Barry, an assistant professor from the University of Manitoba in Canada.

Planning for Coexistence? by Libby Porter and Janice Barry.

Planning for Coexistence? by Libby Porter and Janice Barry.

Image: Courtesy of RMIT University.

The book focuses on four Indigenous communities: The Wurundjeri Land Council (Melbourne) and Wadi Wadi Nation (north-west Victoria) in Australia and the Gitanyow Huwilp (northern British Columbia) and Tsleil-Waututh Nation (northern Vancouver) in Canada.

Porter said indigenous people’s connections to place and the way each of the indigenous nations were seeking to express their connection to place was vastly different from the way Western planning systems conceive the relationship between humans and their environment.

“The latter is a much more disconnected form of relationship than in indigenous communities, so there’s a kind of mismatch between the way in which the planning system wants Aboriginal people to articulate their connection to place, the way they can recognize it, and how Aboriginal people want to bring that to the table,” said Porter.

She continued: “The best example is that [for Aboriginal people] place has its own sentience, it has its own personality – it is its own person, if you like. And that does not fit easily within the Western language planning system or in any form of architecture or ways in which non-indigenous people think about place and space.”

“Things like needing to meet on country because country would need to be present in that conversation about what would happen there were really difficult for planners to cope with.”

Porter said the book highlights the need for a disruption to standard planning practices and conventional methods, and instead planners should recognize the continuing connection and authority of indigenous peoples, on whose lands planners are working.

The Australian and Canadian indigenous communities each had one case in an urban context and another in an environmental natural resource management context.

“We found the urban sites to be much more constrained and much more difficult for urban Aboriginal communities to express through land-use planning what is of value to them and why that matters. It seemed to be a little easier for those who were outside major urban environments to be able to get things done,” said Porter.

“[In the planning industry] it’s kind of seen as a case of, ‘yes, we just need to talk to Aboriginal communities and that’s enough.’ But there’s an enormously important capacity building process that needs to go on within planning practitioner communities in places like Canada and Australia to more justly attend to this and do much more meaningful and genuine relationship-building and partnership-building,” Porter said.

“We hope that the book makes a contribution to that process and helps people understand why that’s important and helps open up those conversations.”

Related topics

More news

See all
The Association of Consulting Architects’ 2016 National Salary Survey found that the gender pay gap persists and 13 percent of firms surveyed are underpaying staff. Architects glum about 2019 salary prospects

Architects are concerned about obtaining a pay rise this year, according to the results of a survey conducted by recruitment agency Hays.

The Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts, designed by Peter Elliott Architecture and Urban Design. Revitalized Alexander Theatre opens at Monash University as part of new performing arts centre

Monash University has opened a $54.3 million performing arts centre at its Clayton Campus which includes an upgraded modernist theatre and two new concert halls.

A concept image for a pedestrianized Elizabeth Street. Melbourne council continues pedestrianization push with Elizabeth Street plan

City of Melbourne councillors have voted to endorse a plan that will see Melbourne’s Elizabeth Street closed to cars over a number of years.

The tower at 62-68 Currie Street designed by Hames Sharley. Expressed concrete tower set for approval in Adelaide

A Hames Sharley-designed 25-storey office and hotel tower proposed for Adelaide’s Currie Street is expected to be approved by the State Commission Assessment panel on …

Most read

Latest on site