Selected Keynote Addresses: Details


1. World Planners Congress, Vancouver, June   2006, Giving Voice to Nature in Community Engagement


How can we nurture an ethic of caring for Nature in the planning profession?


How can we give direct voice to Nature in community engagement processes? How can Nature be present in our deliberations about housing and planning matters?


Wendy Sarkissian shares with us her exploration of the roots of her environmental ethic and her concerns about suburban development. Wendy spent her formative years in the 1940s and 1950s in North Vancouver in a raw

new suburb originally cleared for an airport. Surrounded by a barren social and environmental milieu, she found little comfort.


The forest in the neighbouring Capilano Indian Reservation provided Wendy with solace and an anchor in the natural world. Through these experiences, Wendy acquired a deep concern for the alienation and loneliness she encountered in suburbia and cherishes the memories of the forest in an almost shamanic way, as a place she could revisit at will.


Wendy discussed some of the challenges of the sustainability debate, including the radical responses often demanded when seeking sustainability, along with new means of alignment and attunement with the natural world. Remembering how the voice of Nature soothed her as a child and how later it helped her self address critical ethical issues as a planner, Wendy now asks how we can give voice to” the softest voices” of other-than-human or greater-than-human Nature in the planning of communities and suburbs.


Her memoir, mid-life initiatory journey and some innovative community engagement processes resulting from her explorations may provide food for thought – or even guidance – for others in planning and the land professions.


2. Caledon Institute National Policy Forum on Neighbourhood Revitalization, Ottawa, Canada, 25 October 2005


“Engaging Citizens in Neighbourhood Revitalization: Some Insights from Australian Practice.”


3. Life in the Urban Landscape Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden June 2005


“Madness, Intransigence and Old Hurts: Dealing with Emotion in Community Engagement.”


The conference aimed to explore the emerging field of urban knowledge and to meet for informed debate and mutual learning around the emergence of new urban landscapes and processes for urban planning and development. Downloads:



4. Community Arts Network of Western Australia (CANWA) Forum, July 2005


“The Artistry of Community Consultation.” Published in  Artworkmagazine (Issue 63, December 2005, pp. 27-32), providing an overview of how artistry can be incorporated into community engagement to make projects “sing”. It described the  CREAW approach, which includes  capacitybuilding, resourcefulness, efficiency, artfulness, and, underpinning all these aspects, wit.


5. Residential Development Conference Property Council of WA, Perth May 2005


“The Social Stigma of High-Rise Development or A `CAN DO’ Approach to Higher Density Housing in Western Australia.”


The Conference attracted over 110 delegates and focused on three key ingredients critical to residential development success: demographics, design and community consultation.



6. `Chautauqua’ Extravaganza of Participatory Planning and Design, University of Manitoba, October 2004


Keynote and workshop presenter, Chautauqua, nine lectures and workshops on subject ranging from community engagement to environmental ethics.