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FROM GLOBAL TO LOCAL: Transforming Cities through Participation
International Comparative Case Study of the Urban Planning Participatory Laboratory, Empoli, Italy and the East Clayton Neighbourhood Concept Plan, Surrey, Canada.
Abstract: Case studies often serve to make concrete what are often generalizations or anecdotal information about projects and processes. International case studies are a highly appropriate and valuable approach to describe and evaluate different projects across cultures. They are used to explain, or even predict, theory related to practice or alternative processes. The international case study also serve as the collective records for the enhancement and development of new knowledge and methodologies in different contexts. The following two case studies profile participatory planning and design processes from Italy, from the community of Empoli, FI, and from Canada, from the community of Surrey, BC.

The rationale for choosing these two examples revolve around how each
have responded to the challenges of urban sustainability in innovative, participatory ways. Both projects are firmly grounded in local, regional, national and international policy directives for more sustainable development, a key focus of which is public participation in decision making. In the case of Empoli, the focus of involvement was school-aged children, who, over a one-year process, developed an alternative plan for a historic neighbourhood in the community of Avane. In East Clayton, the integrated process of a design charrette was used to bring together the range of regulatory, private and public interests involved in community planning and design, to develop an integrated, sustainable plan for 13,000. In both cases, the process was intended to provide an alternative model for wider application in other parts of the city and beyond.

Through our examination of each process we found several common themes uniting the two case studies. These include:
1. Local solutions are needed to address global scale problems.
2. On-the-ground models are essential to wide-spread change.
3. Alternative models require alternative processes (participatory, integrated, multidisciplinary, and long-term).
Participatory processes are essential for integrating long-term protection of environmenal assets with the development of complete, compact communities.