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The Bridging Principles as Essential Tools for Urban Developers

Hello blog readers! In this post, I’d like to take a step back and reflect on some epiphanies that have struck me as I have recently plugged myself more into professional networks in the urban development sector. This past month, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to two separate conferences on the topic of sustainable cities, which is the focus point of my education and future career aspirations. Both events tuned into the dire issues affecting urban development worldwide, including housing, climate change, energy, good governance, social inclusion, local economic development, food, mobility, and urban renewal, among other topics.

The main feature of discussion at both conferences was to discuss how better strategic planning and knowledge-sharing among different levels of power in cities could take place to enact positive change. I listened, shared ideas, and all the while, The Bridging Principles sat in the back of my mind as an untapped tool to apply to some of these pressing problems. You see, urban developers and planners these days are very concerned about the issues of participatory development and inclusion—that is, having citizens be co-creators and facilitators in their own cities/homes about building the kind of urban future they want.

It’s easier said than done, and there were countless case studies discussed at the conference about times when this has gone wrong. Developers and planners have moved in with one idea (for example, regeneration of an impoverished neighborhood) where the local citizens have been excluded, and project resources, money, and time get wasted, not to mention mistrust of authority and broken governance systems. It then hit me thatTthe Bridging Principles training for Sacred Place, Roles, and Guide were should not just be recommended, but are essential to reach sustainable community development.

Here at The Bridging Principles Europe, we are focusing on diversity and inclusion as two vital aspects that breed innovation, which in turn has been proved to yield business success. So, why not for urban communities? Several urban scholars are now focusing on just that, and trying to understand how culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse populations could be important aspects of a sustainable, resilient city. Too often, urban planners, developers, and city official are entering the Sacred Place of local residents, without a Guide on the ground, nor an understanding of the hierarchy of roles that exist in local level leadership. Experts in the sector now recognize that “Top Down” approaches for urban regeneration (for example) are flawed, and need to work in tandem with the “Bottom Up” initiatives from the people at the local level.

Every city block is a Sacred Place to someone, and every outside visitor to a Sacred Place needs a good Guide to show them how to treat the place and its people with respect and dignity. I find that oftentimes in my field, this notion gets lost in neighborhoods of lower socio-economic status. It is essential that urban planners and developers work to self-reflect in every aspect of their work. How may this project alter neighborhood Sacred Places? Have local Guides been included in every step of the planning process? What is the Intention of our work and how does our Role work in tandem with the Role of local residents? Only through this self-analysis and forethought can we reach the greatest success in shaping the urban communities of the future.

Dory Estrada is a Master Facilitator for The Bridging Principles™ and currently works as a freelance proposal writer in Germany. She holds a MSc. in Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design, and is passionate about environment, local economic development, and sustainability-focused work. She enjoys travel, outdoor activities, and all kinds of ethnic food.

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