Our publishers, Earthscan, Rob West, Alison Kuznets, Camille Bramill. And Nick Wates, Leonie Sandercock, Yollana Shore, and all of the people who agreed to be interviewed for this book or who made contributions in manifold ways.
This book is about important things. About what’s not often spoken about in planning. One special person deserves our appreciation at the start.
Leonie Sandercock’s radical spirit is everywhere in this book – not just in the interview with her. We thank Leonie for all her beautiful risk-taking: norm-breaking writing, experimental film and persistent art infusion into the theoretical planning imagination. Leonie, you have given the planning field and this book a beautiful new interactive room to walk into.
In 1967, I completed a Master’s thesis on Robert Bowning’s long poem, the Ring and the Book. It’s 21,000 lines long and I wrote about truth. I expected I’d become a high school English teacher, as that was what I’d been trained for. So who would have imagined, over 40 years later, my co-authoring a book about creativity and community engagement?
With a poet for a co-author!
Many tributaries flow into the stream of my creativity – and this book. I have many appreciations to express.
My father, Gordon Sarkissian, a pianist and dreamer, gave me a love of music that endures and daily brings me joy. Norman Etherington, my first partner and intellectual mentor, sustains a fierce passion for history, the arts and letters that filled our lives with music and poetry. He taught me how to think. How to write. And how to listen. I learned every breath in some of the more difficult Mozart concerti as he played his bassoon every evening in his study. Don Perlgut’s love of film opened me to that artistic mode with weekly trips to Sydney’s funky Roseville Cinema.
The blessings that the courageous and poetic Clare Cooper Marcus continues to bring to my life are chronicled in many places in this book. We’ve been friends since 1973. We wrote a book together, Housing as if People Mattered, in 1986 and it’s still in print! I can attribute most of my journeying in creative and spiritual realms to her spirited encouragement. Although I was never, formally, Clare’s student, I am that student. And I bow deeply in gratitude to my mentor.
In 1975, a friend introduced me to Leonie Sandercock, then in Canberra when I was living in Adelaide. Initially `pen friends’, we built the most nourishing and beautiful friendship imaginable. During the lonely months of my bush sojourn for my PhD, I was encouraged by long, handwritten letters from Leonie, always giving permission. That’s it: giving permission. Leonie’s remarkable work about communities and cultural diversity – the multiplicities of differences we find everywhere – give us permission to write a book about poetry and dreaming in planning. In fact, the two of us have been cooking up ideas for a book on `Poetry and Planning’ for decades. But we never actually wrote it. It took poet Dianna Hurford to finally prepare a thesis on that topic!
Meeting John Forester several years ago in Brisbane was an experience I will never forget. Hours after our formal interview was finished, we were still talking about community engagement. He was still listening to my stories. When he wrote that `listening is the social policy of everyday life’, he was referring to himself. I’m honoured by his Foreword to this book and his support and enthusiasm for this work.
My dear friend, Colette Meunier, fellow Canadian and former planning student of mine, graces this book with her astute observations of planning and community engagement in the United States and Canada. I thank her for that contribution and for three decades of generous friendship.
Graeme Dunstan has been driving me crazy for 20 years. And I know it’s mutual. If ever I would wander into a bourgeois life, take a straight job or decide to live in suburbia, I could count on Graeme to remind me what’s important. He puts flesh on the bones of his activism in endlessly astonishing ways. I thank him for introducing me to chicken wire, glue guns, lanterns and `cardboard art’. His watchful eye has been on me throughout the preparation of this book. He just wants us to make a difference with it!
My two co-authors, formerly my students in the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, have been a true delight to work with. Both have made light work of heavy and otherwise boring tasks. Chris’s passion for social justice has kept our feet to the fire. Dianna’s poetic touch, calm persistence and artful shepherding of the manuscript made it much better than I could have ever dreamed.
In a poem in early 2008, I wrote about their `bright faces’:
Poetic old souls in young bodies
Bring tears to weary eyes
Warmth to eager heart.
As I seek to become more than an author – a writer – I find great support just when I need it. In this regard, I am deeply grateful to Viv Simon in Boston and Anne Gorman in Sydney.
In other Earthscan books, I’ve given thanks to my Beloved, Karl Langheinrich, the best cook in Australia. Not every man would persevere with a woman who wanted to write three books in one year without protesting that perhaps some paid work would be nice”¦ Educated in the school of hard knocks and formally in philosophy, sociology, politics and social work, Karl’s read every word we’ve written and made astute comments for which I am most grateful.
I’m delighted to have a wide circle of friends who have supported me during the writing of this book. I give thanks especially to Marnee and Ollie, Anne, Ann, Leonie, Michelle, Wendy T., Nadia, Katherine, Yollana, Steph, Cathy, Wiwik and Noel, Colette and Mark, Andi, Kelvin, Shelagh, Jean, Nancy and my sister, Margaret.
Finally, this book acknowledges the love and sustenance of the living Earth. The kookaburras loudly calling from the tree behind where I sit writing remind me that we live in difficult times. There’s a lot of fear around. When we’re working with communities, remembering what’s important and finding ways to express our creativity will help us demonstrate – and receive – love and care.
My creativity has been fed, cultured and weathered by many delightful beings….thank-you
: to my co-authors, Wendy for being such a brave, passionate and compassionate creation. I am ecstatic to celebrate the importance of your work and to continue our creative friendship. Christine. What a pleasure! We clicked through so much together with spontaneous ease. Let there be opportunity for more.
: to Leonie Sandercock, for shaking me from language sleep with beautiful writing and new imagination. A special thank-you also to Leonie for inviting poets and poetry into the planning discourse and agreeing to supervise my Masters thesis. You have prepared me for flight. Thank-you also to John Friedmann for writing The Good Society (1979).
: to Aileen Penner for our many parallels and intersections and to The Writer’s Studio (TWS) and em dash Vancouver writers collective for friendship, commitment to beautiful writing and ongoing critique of my work.
: to poets Wayde Compton, Oana Avasilichioaei , Graham McGarva and Kate Braid for your evocative insights into the relationships between planning and poetry. I have been inspired by your thoughts and textual music. Thank-you also to Betsy Warland, Jeff Derksen, Robert Bringhurst and Glenn Gould.
: to friends and mentors, Norma-Jean McLaren and Nathan Edelson, for all collective thoughts in how to stay in creative cross-cultural planning conversation without giving up.
: to family, mom for her beautiful belief and dad for knowing how the earth will grow it. Also to my Wolferstan family, for pioneering this life on water and especially for the gift of Linquenda to alter course, live gently and write. Thank-you to the Gillespies for creative life living, lifelong friendship and utopian dinner conversations.
: to the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), Centre Pompidou and the trio of herons circling the writing of this work while in port along the Loire.
: to Jonathan, the artist of my everyday. Geo-typographer. Engaged public space advocate. Sea poet. (My heart belongs to you).
Wendy and Dianna auspiciously appeared in my life at a time of transition – a pause for reflection after a few years’ flurry of action. I’m deeply grateful to Wendy for affording me the opportunity of collaborating on this project. The brainstorming, reading, writing and discussing have been among many welcome sources of new, connected and expanded ideas during the past two years.
I want to express my thanks to some of the people who have made these times beautiful:
To Wendy for her loving warmth and the model she has set by bravely exploring the edges of her practice throughout her career;
To Dianna whose quiet and gentle leadership, expansive thinking and poetic advice are inspirational;
To Susan, my mentor and friend who has most poignantly taught me the importance of caring for the individuals within collective communities;
To my family, whose loving support shelters me from far to near;
To Patrick, whose unconditional companionship softens all the bumps;
To my home community and adopted `282′ family, Aaron, Chris and Nana, for sensing just the right moments and gestures to uplift;