Share your thoughts and enjoy a free coffee. A sidewalk set-up invited neighbours in one part of Peterborough to share their experiences and ideas. Among other ways, residents could engage by “pinning” where they live, where they feel safe and what they like most on a scale model of the neighbourhood.

Tapping Citizens' Lived Experiences, Local Knowledge Through Participatory Planning (Podcast)
Peterborough effort aims to support residents to develop the language, tools and confidence to participate in neighbourhood planning processes

An initiative in Peterborough, Ontario is dedicated to finding ways to tap the lived experiences and local knowledge of residents. The idea is to add what they come up with to the expert knowledge of planners, engineers and other professionals through a process known as participatory planning.

The initiative, called NeighbourPLAN, is spearheaded by a local organization, GreenUP, which focuses on issues of environmental education, sustainability and stewardship. NeighbourPLAN aims to support residents to develop the language, tools and confidence to participate in neighbourhood planning processes.

The hope is that there will be a spillover effect as well, and that the ways of being encouraged through this initiative begin to shift how citizens engage with local government.

This podcast by Peterborough’s Electric City Magazine features conversations with three residents, Carolyn Code, Carlotta James and Marilyn Freeman, talking about what they’d like to see happen in their neighbourhood. GreenUP executive director Brianna Salmon also speaks about participatory planning and the intentions of, and hopes for, NeighbourPLAN.

“One hoped-for outcome is that residents will feel more confident engaging in public processes of all kinds, including elections, but also in sharing and articulating their experiences, their expectations and their desires for this community, and in feeling like those are valid… and that they should inform the way our community looks moving forward,” Brianna says.

Opening credits music: “Heart to Heart” by Nick Ferrio.

Audio file