© Andreas [FranzXaver] Süß

Participation according to plan

Citizen participation is one of the core concepts of political and planning culture. The quote by the Chinese philosopher Lǎotsi from the 6th century BC: "Tell me - and I will forget. Show me - and I will remember. Involve me - and I will understand."

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Citizen participation in planning processes has been a task of urban development and landscape architecture since the 1970s, anchored in the Building Code. In this context, "classic" citizen participation, oriented towards one-sided information of citizens about the planning process, has had its day. Today, experts speak of "communicative processes". For Klaus Selle, Professor of Planning Theory and Urban Development at RWTH Aachen University, communication is the keyword of modern participation, because "you have to know who to reach and how".

Participation processes offer the opportunity to articulate the different views and perspectives in a comprehensible way in diverse discussions and to create acceptance. To this end, new forms of participation - e.g. local agenda processes, district development, participatory budgeting - are used in municipalities that go beyond the legally prescribed mechanisms and complement existing decision-making procedures. What they have in common is the cooperative, multilateral dialogue between all actors to gather ideas for a liveable future and to promote sustainable developments. Because: "Citizen participation is neither a luxury that a social city should afford, nor a necessary evil. It is an imperative of our time." (From: Handbook on Participation | Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, Berlin. June 2011)

Landscape architects manage these communicative processes with familiar and new instruments and methods. These cooperative processes cover a wide range of services and take place in both object planning and landscape planning.

In the "Participation" cluster, a spectrum of formal and informal as well as spontaneous and initiated participation is represented in all degrees of participation. It underlines the professional and communicative competence of landscape architects outside the established service phases and identifies them as qualified contacts for politics and administration, clients and citizens when it comes to accompanying and shaping participation in a creative and consensus-oriented way.

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