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Bringing Planning to Life

Wendy Sarkissian PhD

I bring planning to life with more than 40 years experience in planning, design and environmental studies.

Educated in Arts, literature, town planning and environmental ethics, I am a planner, author, educator, facilitator and consultant, working primarily in planning and development in Australia and overseas.

Need social planning help?

Bringing plans to communities, rather than bringing communities to the planning table at the outset can often result in resistance from the very community you want to serve, undermining good working relationships and delaying projects.

It’s expensive, time-consuming, and it wears people out.

Individually and in my planning firm, I’ve spent decades helping managers and planners use time-tested practices for community engagement that have resulted in first-class planning and design solutions that really meet community needs. Solutions that you can be confident have community support.

If you:

  • Are in the early stages of a planning, development or design project
  • Have hit a roadblock moving forward with a project
  • Realise that you lack the skills and practices to work effectively with community leaders
  • Are struggling to meet density or infrastructure targets set by senior government because of community reactions
  • Need to evaluate the effectiveness of you work, either in an ongoing way or at the end of a process, project or program
  • Are feeling dispirited and frustrated because your processes do not seem to be working
  • Need a senior planning colleague to help you make sense of any (or all) of the above

What I can offer you…

I’m here to help, train and guide you and your colleagues.

I am an expert social planning consultant, author, facilitator, trainer and speaker.

I work with clients to solve complex problems about community engagement, housing planning and design, planning policies, and the design of open space.

As a senior practitioner and leader in my field, I can help with evaluation of projects and processes, provide expert senior-level peer advice and monitoring, and operate as a wise “sounding board” to management.

I am an expert social researcher.

Most of my clients are government; many are local municipalities in urban and rural communities.

I’m experienced at having an “enlarged view”, helping my clients make sense of complex planning projects.

Sometimes, I train their staff; at other times, I meet with management to work through complex issues such as community resistance to proposed housing density increases.

Over 30 years as a consultant, I’ve worked as a “bridge” between theory and practice (writing planning and design guidelines based on research, for example).

I’ve also bridged theory and practice, bringing a knowledge of the theories of community engagement and person-environment relations to practical on-the-ground projects and processes.

And sometimes I build bridges between developers and communities or between government and communities.

For specific advice for local government managers, please click on the link below:

Website map

On this website, you will find information about the following:

1. More about me and my credentials: 

2. NIMBY psychology:

3. NEWS: go here for breaking news, offers and recent developments…

4. My publications, including films, radio and videos:

5. My consulting services (social planning, housing, community engagement, placemaking, workshops and training and keynote addresses):

6. My PhD thesis on an ethic of caring for Nature:

and advice on thesis editing and coaching:

7. My blog:

8. Contact details for me and my speakers’ agent, Renegade Management:

Free resources: bringing planning to life

You can also access a wide range of free resources, including my two very popular manuals for community engagement:

Based on the SpeakOut book, this is the ultimate checklist for designing, planning and managing SpeakOuts and community workshops.

Based on years of experience, this manual grew out of our office training materials and provides specific guidance for facilitators, recorders and listeners in SpeakOuts and community  meetings and workshops.

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