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Book review: Strong stories - How the Dutch are reinventing spatial planning

By T. Hartmann and T.J.M. Spit


“This book makes a case for the power and importance of the\ud narrative, emotional, and symbolic aspects of spatial planning”\ud (p. 246). In Dutch and English, the editors of Strong\ud Stories—How the Dutch Are Reinventing Spatial Planning\ud present a theoretical planning concept: strong stories. The\ud authors reflect on practical planning examples throughout\ud the Netherlands, selecting many water-related planning\ud cases, such as river bypasses, polder developments, etc.\ud After introducing the concept of strong stories in the first\ud section, the book presents sections on knowledge and participation,\ud planning with stories, anchoring stories, and\ud finally on responsibility for quality and democracy, with the\ud concluding section summing up the findings.\ud In the introductory section, “The Power of Strong\ud Stories,” the editors state that “without a strong story there\ud can be no successful planning” (p. 13). They reflect on the\ud roles of planners and of their expertise in the planning process,\ud presenting a definition of planning that emphasizes the\ud key roles of communication and coordination (p. 14). The\ud editors conclude this section with the explanation that strong\ud stories lead to spatial quality by tying together visions,\ud knowledge, and democratic legitimacy.\ud After this introduction by the editors, four sections with a\ud similar structure follow. Each section consists of a general\ud introduction and some case studies presented by Hajer, van’t\ud Klooster, and Grijzen. Different authors in independent\ud essays then reflect on the overall topic of the section (without\ud referring to the case studies). This structure shows the\ud inductive way of elaborating on the idea of strong stories.\ud Methodologically, however, this structure is not always pursued\ud consistently—instead of using the same case studies in\ud different sections for discussion from various facets, some\ud case studies just run through all the sections while others are\ud just used selectively in particular sections. The selection of\ud cases is not well reasoned either. The essays do not all reflect\ud on the case studies presented by the editors and sometimes\ud present their own cases (e.g., in Hemel’s essay)

Topics: Sociale Geografie & Planologie, Sociale Geografie & Planologie
Year: 2012
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