Thomas Contributes Chapter to “The Participatory City”

Thomas Contributes Chapter to “The Participatory City”

June Manning Thomas wrote a chapter titled “Community Organizing, Planning and Racial Marginalization” for the book, The Participatory City, edited by Yasminah Beebeejaun and published in July 2016 by Jovis.

Racial inequality in many societies has led to deep fissures and unequal access to basic goods, services, and opportunities.    Thomas notes that  circumstances can make community organizing difficult especially within marginalized communities: geographic local areas with predominantly minority-race or minority-ethnic status, and with social, economic, or political exclusion.

Several schools of thought inform discussion of planning for action in such communities; two are the Saul Alinsky and the Paulo Freire approaches, and many additional alternatives combine aspects of these approaches.  Thomas describes these approaches, and explores which organizing strategies may be more appropriate than others for contemporary marginalized communities.  She suggests that, while it is important for planners to understand how community-driven change takes place in ways that can complement, parallel, or underlie urban planning strategies, at times the best way to effect change in some marginalized communities is for them to focus on their own efforts to organize and implement modest solutions.  She also addresses ways that planners can avoid setting up barriers and also provide limited forms of assistance as a form of humble engagement.

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