Storytelling and integrated land-use models

Clouclelis (2005) outlines the rethinking of integrated land-use models by orienting the article around three main roles that are interconnected: scenario writing, visioning, and storytelling. The details of the article more than suffice the upsides and downsides of urban planning history with regard to the computational and spatial planning world. The one role that intrigued me the most was that of storytelling. Storytelling, according to the article, strives to “build consensus by presenting particular desired or feared future developments in terms meaningful enough to be credible to non-specialists” (1354). I believe it to be a significant connection between qualitative, and quantitative attributes of planning systems. Clouclelis notes that there is much room for “interpretation and facts” derived from models, however planning emphasizes interpretation and values, a much more arbitrary combination (from a scientific stance anyways). There is a specific comfort that we find when relying on facts rather than values. The concreteness makes them somehow more plausible and tangible than individual intentions and agendas, hence having “models codify uncertain knowledge” (1359). We hold planning accountable for a particular outcome. We expect it to “lead to certain action” (1359). The pressure only accelerates on planning to provide solutions to problems at hand. If we eliminate the jargon in expert language to enhance meaning to implemented models for the non-expert, we should develop methods that are creative, and can facilitate the process of finding a balance between non-specialist, and specialist interaction. What can we learn from both camps? In my opinion, storytelling in itself is not enough to be evocative. The way we tell it has to be compelling. Ideas, experimentation, and actions by means of imagination and sharing, can be significant contributions to successful storytelling.

Another problem I want to address is the lack of clarity of what type of planning support system is indeed necessary, and in need of support (1355). The individuals, groups and communities involved all hold multiple agendas. “At the metropolitan level, transportation, commuting, growth, and sprawl cannot be addressed by one community without direct implications for several others” (1358). Will it ever be possible to address everyone’s needs? Is that feasible, realistic or practical? If that is not an option, will compromise be enough for a potential solution? Or will it be inevitable that certain groups’ requests will be sacrificed and overlooked?

-henry miller

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