“Citizen Participation in Seattle’s Sustainable Development”
As U.S. cities increasingly become sites of innovation and economic opportunity, city planners must consider how to manage an influx of residents in a sustainable manner. Sustainability, especially in the urban context, is frequently defined as combining environmental protection, economic growth and social equity.
I would like to investigate whether Seattle’s “smart growth” policies prioritize the needs of certain communities over others and whether all citizens have equal opportunity to participate in the planning and implementation of growth strategies. Seattle’s history of environmental activism has involved what Lefebvre calls the “production of space” – the ways in which certain political and social values are upheld or denied through the development, occupation, and use of a space by a particular group.
I hope that my thesis project will allow me to identify existing inequalities and blind spots in the planning and implementation of environmental policy and to confront the different ways in which citizens conceptualize and relate to the environments they live in. Additionally, I think that this project will prepare me to more effectively consider the needs of a diverse city population in a possible future career in urban environmental policy or environmental journalism.