Human Diversity in Renewed Cities

Human Diversity in Renewed Cities

Special Plenary session for community city-planners

October 21, 2015DSC_4037 copy

Moderator: Ofer Gridenger, City Planning Division Manager at Jerusalem Municipality

Speakers: Dr. Emily Silverman, founding Director of the Urban Clinic, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Anaya Bana Jerais, Arab Center for Alternative Planning

Ofer:  The idea behind this session is to have a closed study session related to the conference’s theme and its participants. Exploring how the planner operates, thinks, works and moves forward in a mixed city, with diverse populations. This isn’t related exclusively to the recent events, but in Jerusalem the concept applies to ultra-orthodox and national-religious populations; tensions between populations in “designated” and “undesignated” neighborhoods.

Dr. Emily Silverman is working with the Jerusalem municipality and other Israeli municipalities. She is from the Urban Clinic at the Institute of Urban and Regional Studies, The Hebrew University. She is also involved in housing issues, writes articles, lectures, provides expert opinions for legislative proposals, and is a member of the Trachtenberg Committee. She has worked and assisted us a lot in matters of urban renewal, “vacate and build” projects and more.

In the audience there are neighborhood and borough planners, planners for community administrations and for the city planning division at the Jerusalem municipality

Dr. Emily Silverman

Let’s discuss the basic statement – Social Justice. It is impossible to contend with social injustice without tackling the spatial component.  It is often used when consulting the social protest movement as they confront those who are responsible for welfare, education and health. They do not see the spatial aspect as critical for social justice.

I stress the importance of the monthly “Friday Tours” held in the neighborhoods together with the community administration when three–four central dilemmas and social aspects of planning are discussed.  Groups of young people, students and others participate in these tours and the insights are conveyed to the community centers.

What are we talking about when talking about social diversity? We are talking about poverty and wealth, Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, Christians and Muslims, young and old, apartment renters versus owners, ultra-orthodox and secular. I want to focus on the people and not on other issues.  We are talking about a variety of things, types of information which develop over time; nothing is static, as the city is after all developing. Is the question different from yesterday? Tomorrow?  In respect to whom? How is it changing?

The first question is what social diversity is in the daily work of the city planners. Some view variety as a natural state – diversity. There are those who view it as a source of conflict, but in the academy it is currently viewed as one of the supreme values. In the academy and perhaps on the ground as well, we have focused for too many years, since Modernism, on processes. We have focused on “how to plan”, “how to intermediate” and neglected fairness. Currently in the academy, diversity is an ideal; it is part of what is interesting in the city. I compare it to roots. The modernistic conception underlying the emerging planning was the opposite. No aspiration for diversity. They aspired for order, freedom, cleanliness and the principles were those of separation: between bicycle riders, pedestrians, and vehicles; between educational institutes and residential areas. As a reaction to Modernism and the problems it created, Post-Modernism espouses diversity. As in Israel the Modernistic outline still prevails, how does it affect us as planners in Jerusalem?

Our position isn’t easy. Our profession views diversity as a value, to be aspired to, to be created daily, and we are facing the Israeli-style Modernism that still pulls us in other directions, towards separation, homogeneity. Why?

What are the arguments against diversity? I like to be with people like me.  Homogeneity provides me with trust and security. I feel I can leave my door open. This way I know with whom my children are playing, because these people are similar to me. I want to choose my neighbors and let them be just like me.

What are the arguments for diversity? The city as an unpredictable, versatile source and diversity increases social resilience.

How should we divide the resources in society? Let’s look at the middle class as a resource, capable of influencing the ability of children from poor homes to advance in a school with a middle class population. When children from the middle class learn separately, we leave the concentration of poor children among themselves, and then the school level is poor and the environment is even lower.

How do you, the audience, see diversity in Jerusalem? Are you aiming at separation? Creating borders? On what scale, timeframe? Working on seam areas for co-existence? Working on shared space? With which populations and on which scales?

Audience: In Jerusalem, one needs to consider diversity separately. There are seam areas between neighborhoods and populations with joint areas like parks and urban nature sites – places which can generate a common denominator without sharing. But still the different types of people should be taken into consideration. There are some distinct, more complicated divisions that people are born into: ideology and nationality. Divisions of income-level or different marital status:  People in those positions are more accepting towards the other side.

Emily: There are areas where separation is maintained because diversity can create conflict and there are seam areas where it is possible to work towards acceptance of diversity. Are there areas where the joint space is part of the planners’ work?

Audience: The neighborhood planners hold monthly meetings. There are Arabs, Jews and different levels of Ultra-Orthodox among them. One of the issues that became apparent is the lack of a language to bridge the cultural gaps. What is the planning language and can it be adapted culturally for everyone? There “Master-Plan 2000” language was written as a single procedure which applies to all the city parts. Part of the problem is that this language doesn’t take into account cultural gaps as it was created by one authority. Perhaps the discussion should be: creating a fairer language that expresses diversity.

Emily: I agree. There is a need to deduce from daily experience a language that is shared and important to everyone.

Audience: The neighborhood planners have the privilege to live in utopia, but the closer one gets to the establishment the smaller the space for maneuvering. When the institutional approach talks about Ultra-Orthodox–Secular, Jewish-Arab relations, the border exists and is pronounced.  The terminology of discourse is one of occupation: will they occupy another neighborhood and in what method. This is the discourse.  For that reason, on the neighborhood level it is impossible to have a shared space; only on the urban level can there be one.

Emily: This direction can be followed and examined in different situations. Maybe in this instance it is appropriate to have separate residence:  on the block level and on the neighborhood one. How do you reach a decision? Based on what? How do you decide and who decides?

Audience: What do you do against the long procedures – how do you decide? It is easier to reach decisions at the neighborhood level and at a lower level. In Kiryat Yovel for instance, when dealing with issues between the Ultra-Orthodox and Secular it is easier. But on the level of a borough or the whole city it turns into a war.

Audience: There were understandings towards building the “Friendship Field” – the name and field were ready. The field was expropriated from Um-Tuba for the benefit of “Har Homa”. On the political level there was a willingness to build the Friendship Field” but when it came to the community administration, the residents of “Har Homa” refused.

Audience: In Israel, planning is related to politics and security. In 2015 the Israeli planner is still a tool in the hands of politicians, the defense ministry. Even when they aspire to work professionally, they are restricted. There is an attempt to use the planner’s professional experience to restrict and divide. The planner can’t produce shared spaces. In Jerusalem for instance, not one shared space can be found. The political realm views the shared space as a threat against Jerusalem’s residences and their safety.

Answer: Mamilla, the railroad park, the light rail.DSC_4041 copy

Audience (continued): The light rail only goes through Beit Hanina and not other [Arab] neighborhoods, although its use is shared. But then you reach separated neighborhoods.

Emily: It is not surprising that people live in different realities, perhaps owing to background, workplace, ideology, work experience. The discourse between the different realities itself can shed light on the factors which lead to the difference.

Ofer: What Muhammad said is that we have to ask ourselves whether we are leading or actually secretly serving a political policy? It is a complicated, tough, interesting question. We are talking about politicians from both sides.

Emily: That is the most important question.

Audience: Politics was part of planning through all cultures, ages and time. When we are talking about planning for diversity we have to note that we as a professional body are restricted, therefore we need to plan an enabling plan and not a determining one.

Emily: Who decides and what is the planner’s role? We have to distinguish between traditional distribution of types of knowledge: between the technical (craft), that is based on experience, the visionary (creativity and innovation), and the science-knowledge that is derived from statistics, from facts.

At which of these three points are you the planners positioned? The answer probably varies. Basically, a good design should be implemented and not stay on paper and it requires a balanced combination, adjusted for each site, between those three types of knowledge. Where are you positioned on the axis? How are those points strengthening, or alternatively dysfunctional?

Regarding technical knowledge – What does the law allow? How much will it cost? How many parks are needed? One arrives at discussions and states: “I know. This is my profession. I am a man of science. This is the knowledge of demographic data”.

The vision’s role – you see it more among politicians. There are architects and planners like Robert Moses in New York whose actions were motivated by vision and an understanding of where they want to reach through innovation. They were aided by exciting, guiding stories. Here, the vision is in the hands of politicians. To what extant does the planner have a foothold in this reality? What is the designer’s role in the borough or at headquarters: is it to challenge the vision? How much contact does he have with the politician? Does he intentionally avoid him?

The crafts’ role – related to remarks such as “I could not live there” “One doesn’t live next to a cemetery” etc.; understanding daily life. If we do not understand it, there is no chance of reaching a feasible plan, a good plan like there was at “Har Homa” which doesn’t fit in with people’s lives.

If one would apply this triangle to specific situations that the planner faces, one would see where the vision is clear but where the data is missing; where the data exists but there is no vision, how to define each level.

Returning to the question of diversity and thinking about the three types of knowledge, how can we decide on separation, areas on the seam, shared spaces? – How is it based on local knowledge and what is the data comparing Israel to other places in the world that will enable us to make decisions?

Craft is based on trial and error and one becomes fixated on the scientific aspect: we have made a decision and so and that is how it’s going to be. How do you allow aspects of craft to influence science? In my opinion, this will balance the vision.

Participants are invited to visit the institute of urban and regional studies at Mount Scopus. Each year we hold a seminar that brings together professionals from different fields. The topic this year is innovative approaches to involvement in planning. I recommend learning from what is happening in Akko: how to manage urban movements among populations and professions.

Anaya Bana Jerais

I am a member of the Arab Center for Alternative Planning and represent the interests of the Arab population in planning and land development in all the Arab communities nationwide.

My lecture will focus on communities outside of Jerusalem to demonstrate methodologies. I will focus on local knowledge and will touch on equality. I will focus on fairness in the working methods of the planning procedures: how processes are implemented.

Over and above public participation we are talking about procedural justice. How is it implemented? There is also planning and politics within the Arab communities, a space with separation and no diversity. In all those spaces the local and national politics are critical.

Procedural justice means having a just process for all the actors in it. The sole expression today of procedural justice is involving the public in planning processes.

Distributive justice asks whether it is possible to create a fair procedure for all participants when in fact there is no distributive justice in reality. There are 77 Arab municipalities. The Arab is restricted: Where can an Arab reside in this country? They can’t live in communities where admission committees won’t accept them. This affects diversity. How will I be able to live and run a normal life as an Arab woman, in the city, the village? In both public and private spheres.

If we address the local context, we can find a wider context, from local knowledge, related to history and what formed current society. If you want to manage a fair process everywhere, there is a need to form a method applicable everywhere and on all levels. It can be localized within the context of a specific site.

Procedural justice is under-developed in the planning literature. It is developed in theories in the fields of Justice, Economics, and Management. The intention isn’t general consensus but addressing the congruent areas. When discussing and reaching a consensus is impossible, we refer to congruent areas through which just processed can be reached:

1. A Pure process – when a process is implemented for its own sake

2. A fair process that doesn’t reach a fair outcome

3. A fair process that reaches a fair outcome.

The basic assumption is that the process itself is of great importance, irrelevant of occurrences. First for the participants as it raises their identity and enables them to reach a decision regardless of its outcome. The process itself can instigate other processes. Second, it is important for the institutions and decision makers who receive legitimacy. In an area of a prominent and on-going conflict, issues can enter the process itself. Third, it is important for the public which can discuss the conflict and include it in public discourse.

There are big debates in the academy between process and outcome supporters. The basic claim is that if inclusive processes are based on injustice, they strengthen the strong and weaken the weak.

How do you manage a process in such a situation? Be it the approval of as blueprint, master plan. Everything is part of similar processes.

I have developed a model and tools through which these questions can be tackled. They wouldn’t necessarily alter the outcomes, but change the process. I dealt with three frameworks: 1. Theories of procedural justice. 2. Public participation in planning. 3. The Arab-Palestinian population in Israel.

In the local context, in Arab communities today, the strongest context is land ownership. Local knowledge lies there. Without the vision and accurate data, they are entering Arab settlements and erasing the history and the present, and latch on to an insignificant local feature.

The basis for my research was the examination of collective features: history, distributive injustice, and collective rights.

Concerning the social-economic thread – 100% of the Arab population is positioned between threads 1-4 economically, meaning their socio-economic status is very low. What can be done? There are 6 rules to the theory of procedural justice. The aim is to develop tools which will assist this population in formulating a process and making it responsible for implementing a fair process for decision making. This requires consistency, neutrality, accurate information, an opportunity to examine and correct previous decisions and to act according to the rule of representation and according to ethical rules.

Regarding the rule of strength and balance – this model can be implemented in conflictual situations everywhere.  Even in East Jerusalem where the situation is different. There is a need to locate all the actors in the process and understand the local context: to find out the historical rights, the population’s status, map local features and more.

What is the planner’s status and position in those models? I will present some of the findings and recommendations:

There is a need to empower the local level. Currently the population and local authorities are weak. There are no industrial areas and no local economy. There are attempts to improve the situation, but there is a built-in factor that hinders them. The plan that succeeded despite it all is the one that challenged the system. There is a given situation which is the funding and planning by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance.  We provide the planners and they bring the staff and enter the Arab settlement. This turns the economically weak local authority into a minor player.

In the settlements where the funders decided and the local authority invested in strengthening itself, there was a greater consensus and it was possible to reach decisions that were perceived as more just, as the ultimate justice is unattainable.

In one instance the local municipality suggested a blue line that will enable the expansion of the settlement, and the politicians disagreed. As you widen the opening, you are faced with the decisions of the Minister of Interior and other politicians. When the local echelon has strength, it can challenge the system and change it to include the local echelon. You can strengthen it through budgets, transportation, industrial areas. But this is not related to public participation.

There are many methods for public participation. I think there is one approach that promotes a structure for public participation and an adviser who’s an expert on it. It’s a matter of power and budgets. There are places with a different approach, seeking to challenge the system. The system wishes to change. The ruling funder should introduce the alternative method and challenge the system. If the power balance stays as it is it will be difficult to change procedures. Public participation in Arab settlements is not always successful. At the transparency stage, people disappear. The system currently is dysfunctional and there is a need for solutions.

Audience: This happens in Jewish communities as well – initially there is public participation and later it stops.

Anaya: Local representatives sometimes work right and other times they don’t. There were committees that claimed to represent the public which aren’t represented through the local council. But they need to be empowered with knowledge. Most of them are land-owners. Women are not present. There are efforts to include women representation. A lot of internal work is still required. We are not talking about the weaker communities because it is the planner’s task to consolidate the weaker groups and help them sound their voice.

In my research two narratives emerged: The establishment’s narrative – funders, planning chambers, planning and building committees, government ministries; and the public’s narrative – the general public, land owners and local groups. I discovered that local decision-makers were in between. They were usually part of the public narrative. In the initial stages they held the establishment’s narrative but with time they were more inclined toward the public one.

Audience: Where does the public narrative conflict with the public narrative?

Anaya: Those who hold the public narrative oppose the process when no consensus was reached with them and the process wasn’t inclusive and transparent. I believe this is what is happening in East Jerusalem. There is a narrative. All the local players were involved and the planners were Arabs.  Important issues were raised; you can read between the lines that there is advocacy, an inclusive process that ensures that the residents participate in the planning. The aim is to form trust between the planners and the committee.  Through this trust you can build a whole system related to the land. This is possible when the system grows bottom–up and is based on inclusion, holding a just process that gives as many answers as possible to the needs of most of the residents. We are talking about inclusion, empowerment and their role in the general system of the plans. The question needs to be asked: where are the planners in this decision making system?

Ofer: At the end of Anaya’s fascinating remarks, we need to be reminded that Jerusalem is the biggest Arab and Ultra-Orthodox city in Israel and among the poorest and most complicated.