We regularly engage with interesting people, and we want to showcase these connections by sharing the research they've presented to us. 


Growing Conversation: Understanding planning literacy in the City of Toronto

by Katarzyna (Kasia) Kmiec

The City of Toronto’s commitment to meaningful public engagement in planning processes is apparent throughout its many policies, plans and initiatives. However, despite consistent messaging that effective engagement leads to better outcomes and the many hours it spends on engagement efforts, the City Planning division has acknowledged that its approaches to community outreach are not always effective. City Planning’s 2014 “Growing Conversations” initiative revealed, among other findings, disparities in levels of planning knowledge between experts and stakeholders that lead to frustration and communication breakdowns. An outcome of this was to focus on improving the planning literacy levels of Torontonians.

However, Growing Conversations did not elaborate on how it intends to improve planning literacy, nor what it understands planning literacy to mean. By exploring the meaning of “planning literacy” and creating a diagnostic tool to measure it, this research paper seeks to stimulate meaningful discussion around what planning concepts everyday Toronto residents should be familiar with, help identify those concepts for which that is not the case, and consider how to act on that information.


Therapeutic Planning: Engaging Communities with Care

by David Alton

This paper explores the relationship between planners and the public. Planning does not see itself as a caring profession, yet there are elements of care that underlie its relationship to the public. These elements are particularly prevalent in the growing discipline of public engagement. Therapeutic planning is an emerging approach to planning that has shown promise at building on those elements of care and reimagining planning as healing and transformative for planners and the public. However, therapeutic planning has so far only been used as a specialized practice when planning with indigenous communities. Through an analysis of the literature on planning theory and therapeutic planning practice, this study seeks to build a case for a broader application of therapeutic planning. Key findings of this analysis show that therapeutic planning has the capacity to improve planners’ ability to address trauma, conflict and reconciliation. This ends with a concrete set of recommendations to guide the profession in embracing its potential for care.