ESLARP East St. Louis Action Research Project
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Case study of ESLARP


Content

This report is written by three exchange students, Lene Morthensen, Janni Sorensen & Torben Thisted Jacobsen from theDepartment of Development and Planning at Aalborg University in Denmark during our stay at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall 1996. We have made a project about citizen participation and in this project we have used the East St. Louis Action Research Project as a case. Our project is based on three theories about model of democracy, planning theory and communication theory. We use the theories to evaluate citizen participation in East St. Louis. The sources for the theories can be found in a bibliography made for this site.

This report contains the argumentation for our choice of the East St. Louis Action Research Project as a case. This leads to a description of the purpose of the case. Afterwards we explain the method for illustrating the practical use of our theoretical knowledge about models of democracy, planning theory, and communication theory in citizen participation in East St. Louis.

The last part of the report contains a number of main and detailed questions for the case study. From these questions and the answers we evaluate the case in relation to citizen participation and our theoretical background.

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Used abbreviations

We will use the following abbreviations:

  • East St. Louis Action Reset Project ESLARP => ESLARP
  • East St. Louis Geographic Information Retrieval System => EGRETS
  • Information Technology => IT
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    Sources for the case

    The main sources for writing about the case are the ESLARP's web site and EGRETS. We have also used our knowledge about the subject received from the courses: UP301 and UP341, which we attended at the University of Illinois. Furthermore we have added our own experiences from visiting East St. Louis during a work weekend arranged by the University of Illinois.

    The main sources for evaluating ESLARP is our theoretical background from studying the literature about models of democracy, planning theory and communication theory, see the bibliography.

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    Why ESLARP as a case?

    We have chosen ESLARP as a case because it is a good example of how IT can be used to distribute information. In addition the case shows how the citizenship in a local neighborhood can be influenced by a project like ESLARP. Furthermore ESLARP is an example of how empowerment planning can be used to establish cooperation between local neighborhood citizens and students and staff at the University of Illinois.

    It has also affected our choice of case that ESLARP is made by the University of Illinois and we thereby have easy access to question some of the involved students and professors in person. In addition we find it easier to relate to ESLARP rather than another project because we already know ESLARP from the courses and our stay at the University of Illinois.

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    The purpose of the case study

    The purpose of the case study is to give a practical example of how citizen participation can be affected by implementing some of the aspects from the three theories about models of democracy, planning theory and communication theory. These theories are the framework for observing, understanding, exploring, and explaining the real world.

    We also wish to evaluate the ESLARP case in context of what already has been achieved to improve the citizen participation. This evaluation should give a picture of what can be expected or hoped for in the future.

    In this case study we will look at a wide range of subjects relating to citizen participation. We are interested in exploring the effects of empowerment planning in general and the way the democratic citizenship and the communication with the citizens is developing in East St. Louis.

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    The method

    The case study design is separated into four parts, one for each of the theories: Models of democracy, planning theory and communication theory, and one for the future plans of ESLARP. For each theory we ask a main question about how ESLARP affects the citizen participation. In order to get a more detailed understanding of what kind of knowledge we are seeking we ask some additional questions to each theory. Furthermore we ask some general questions regarding ESLARP and the use of IT in the future.

    The best source of answering most of the questions would be a representative group of citizens from East St. Louis. We have a limited time resource and for this reason we have decided to try to find the answers by asking central people working with ESLARP at the University of Illinois. We realize that this method can course some conflicts of interest since these persons can have preconceived opinions about ESLARP. We will try to compensate for these problems by emphasize on the citizens point of view in the way we ask the questions.

    The interview is planned to be an open interview in the sense that we will allow the interview to develop according to the answers we receive. In this way we will get as much information about the subject as possible from the interviewed person. In spite of this choice of method it is important to have a clear understanding of what information we are looking for and keep the interview on the right track.

    We will separate our questions into two groups, and make two separate interviews in order to get the most qualified answers to our questions. We will interview ass. Prof. Kenneth M. Reardon about the planning and democracy issues and Prof. Brian Orland and visiting research associate Abhijeet Chavan about the questions concerning communication. We will ask questions regarding the future in the two areas in both the interviews.

    In order to get the best possible result of our interviews we have carefully planned the procedure beforehand. The questions we ask have been evaluated by ourselves and a neutral person (ass. Prof. Zorica Nedovic-Budic) and rephrased according to the points of critique. Before the interviews the questions have been given to the persons we wish to interview in written form in order to give the persons a chance to prepare themselves for the interview. Also we have prepared ourselves by making a clear separation of responsibility during the interview so that one person is responsible for asking the questions and another is the observer responsible of observing and making notes about body language, mimics etc.

    Both interviews will be recorded and transcribed so we have the interviews in written form for later evaluations. The parts of the interviews that answers each of our questions will be described and evaluated in the case study design. Finally we will make an evaluation of the ESLARP case in the context of improving citizen participation using all three theories.

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    The case study design

    In this site the questions we want answered for each of the four areas: Models of democracy, planning theory and communication theory, and the future plans of ESLARP are described. It is also described by what method we will find the answer for each question.

    Questions regarding models of Democracy

    In the following we will describe the questions we have chosen to ask in order to describe the impact of the theory about models of democracy. We have chosen the following question to be the main question regarding models of democracy:

    D. How does ESLARP affect the state of democracy (the citizenship) in East St. Louis?

    In order to give a clearer picture of what is meant by this question we are going to ask the more detailed questions described below. The questions we ask do all have their origin in the model for achieving a strong citizenship described by Barber in “Strong Democracy”. Each question is supposed to cover one of the points in the model. Together the questions will give a picture of the impact of all the elements in the part of the model we work with.

    Briefly described the questions are as follows:

    These are the questions we would like answered in the following pages. We want to answer all the questions by interviewing ass. Prof. K. Reardon at the University of Illinois because we will not be able to find sufficient answers on the web site.

    Question #D.1

    D.1. How does ESLARP affect the use of local town meetings?

    Local town meetings are an important part of educating people to become active and involved citizens. Therefore we are interested in examining how ESLARP has effected these meetings. What we find especially interesting is:

    Question #D.2

    D.2. How does ESLARP affect the possibilities of using two-way communication technology (e-mail, discussion forums on the Internet etc.) in East St. Louis?

    ESLARPs web site on the Internet is a good example of how communication technology can be used to distribute information about a neighborhood and about the work being done to improve the living conditions in the area.

    In the context of democracy it is interesting to examine a number of issues concerning the use of communication technology in East St. Louis:

    Question #D.3

    D.3. What kind of information does ESLARP provide for the citizens in East St. Louis?

    In order to be an active citizen it is necessary to have access to the information that is needed to form an opinion about different issues relevant to ones life and surroundings. It seems obvious that since ESLARP is working with involving citizens in their neighborhood planning and revitalization they should also be providing the citizens with the information necessary for being active.

    The following questions will give the knowledge we are looking for:

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    Questions regarding Planning theory

    From the theories about planning we have come to the conclusion that we find empowerment planning to be the best planning theory to use for increasing citizen participation in a local neighborhood. We have compared the five different planning theories from the SITAR-model described in “Communicative Planning Theory” by Sager and looked at the possibilities for citizens participation in the local planning process. From the comparison we have chosen empowerment planning as the theory we would recommend planners to use. Therefore we find it interesting to state the following main question regarding the use of empowerment planning in East St. Louis:

    P. Why is the planning theory empowerment planning used in East St. Louis?

    In the light of this question and our theoretical background about planning theory we have made some detailed questions. Every question is explained thoroughly below each of the mentioned questions:

    Briefly described the questions are as follows:

    We will try to answer all the questions asked by searching for useful answers on the ESLARP web site. We know in advance that we will not be able to find answers concerning the reasons for using empowerment planning in East St. Louis. Therefore we have decided to interview ass. Prof. K. Reardon at the University of Illinois. Also it will be necessary for us to ask a person about the experiences from using empowerment planning.

    Question #P.1

    P.1. How are participatory action research (PAR) and community organizing techniques used in East St. Louis?

    Some of the characteristics of empowerment planning is the use of PAR and community organizing techniques. The idea is to get the citizens in a neighborhood to actively participate in the local planning process. To help the citizens communicate and participate in a planning situation they are offered training and education in PAR. They must also learn how to cooperate and enter into an organization. Therefore we would like to know:

    Question #P.2

    P.2. What are the participatory experiences on using empowerment planning in East St. Louis?

    From the theory about empowerment planning we have read that the theory contains a series of advantages in relation to citizen participation. Therefore we would like to know if the theory is useful in praxis and what the planners can do to succeed in using empowerment planning. This leads us to ask the following questions:

    Question #P.3

    P.3. Has the use of empowerment planning and thereby citizen participation brought any tangible benefits?

    During our studying of empowerment planning we have heard that usually low-income neighborhoods do not receive any grants before they have formed organizations for participating in the planning process. From this point of view we will state the following questions:

    By answering the above mentioned questions we should be able to evaluate the use of empowerment planning in East St. Louis.

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    Questions regarding Communication

    In the following we will describe the questions we have chosen to ask in order to describe the impact of the theories about communication. The main question in this field is:

    C. How is the communication between ESLARP and the citizens in East St. Louis taking place?

    With concern to this we will ask some detailed questions based on communication theory. At this stage we will limit the subject to concern the communication that takes place by way of the ESLARP web site.

    Part of these questions can be answered by looking at the ESLARP web site and by looking at the statistics for the ESLARP server. We will answer the rest of the questions by interviewing Prof. B. Orland and visiting research associate A. Chavan at the University of Illinois.

    Question #C.1

    C.1. Who are the primary receivers?

    The communication theory has shown us that in order to obtain the best possible two-way communication it is important for the communicator to know the receivers and their background well. Therefore we would like to know who is regarded as the primary receivers for ESLARP and what kind of basic knowledge these receivers have for participating in the communication on the web site.

    Question #C.2

    C.2. Why is the Internet chosen as the media for communication with the primary receivers?

    The theory about communication has shown us that depending on the message you wish to send and the group of receivers you wish to address, there will be a difference in what media you should choose. Everybody talks about the Internet, and a lot of people use it without thinking why. We would like to know if it has been the agenda to use the Internet as the media for ESLARP.

    Question #C.3

    C.3. What kind of messages are communicated through the ESLARP web site?

    As mentioned above there can be a difference in what kind of messages you want to communicate by different media. We would like to find out what kind of messages are communicated through the ESLARP web site. It is also important that you use the chosen media in an optimal way. Therefore we ask some questions about the administration, design and layout of the ESLARP web site.

    Question #C.4

    C.4. Who uses the ESLARP web site and do the users give feedback?

    It is important to have participatory communication in citizen participation and in order to achieve an optimal communication for citizen participation the conditions for two-way communication must be good. In this context we will examine who uses the ESLARP web site in East St. Louis and at the University of Illinois.

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    Questions regarding the future of ESLARP

    The following questions regard the future of ESLARP in relation to the three theories about models of democracy, planning theory, and communication theory. We have experienced that there are a lot of serious initiatives in ESLARP but we have the impression that it should be possible to improve the involvement of a wider group of citizens in East St. Louis. During our work with citizen participation we have also realized that there is a large potential in using IT in planning. The use of IT in ESLARP is relatively new and limited compared to what is possible with the media. Therefore we want to ask some general questions about citizen participation and some questions about the use of IT in ESLARP.

  • F.1. What will be done to increase the citizens’ feedback to the work done by the University of Illinois?
  • F.2. What will be done to improve the conditions for two-way communication on the ESLARP web site between the University of Illinois and East St. Louis?
  • F.3. What are the plans for the ESLARP web site in the future?
  • F.4. What is the future goal of ESLARP?
  • From the context of all the questions we are now able to make the interview we need in order to answer all of our questions. As mentioned we will separate our questions into two groups, and make two separate interviews in order to get the most qualified answers to our questions. We will interview ass. Prof. K. Reardon about the planning and democracy issues and Prof. B. Orland and visiting research associate A. Chavan about the questions concerning communication. We will ask questions regarding the future in the two areas in both the interviews.

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    Answers from the interviews

    We describe the answers that the interviews with ass. Prof. K. Reardon and Prof. B. Orland and visiting research associate A. Chavan have given us. The interviews are not posted on the web site. The description will be given for each of the questions on the second level (e.g. D.1), and the answers for the questions on the lower levels (e.g. D.1.1) will be included in this description.

    Answers regarding models of Democracy

    The first question we asked was:

    D.1. How does ESLARP affect the use of local town meetings?

    K. Reardon explained that before ESLARP was launched in 1990, there were very few meetings of citizens outside the city hall to discuss issues because most of the residents believed there was no way to influence the actions of the government. They were told in a lot of ways that their input was not desired. The citizens were also afraid to interfere because most of the jobs in the area are connected to the city government and they were worried that if they complained and did not appear supportive they might lose their job and never be able to get a new one.

    After ESLARP has got involved there has been a dramatic change. Today there are 17 neighborhood groups that meet on their own and discuss issues. Some of them are small with only a dozen people involved but others are larger with about 50 active individuals and they have their own staff and offices. There has also been formed a coalition of independent neighborhood groups called the East St. Louis Citizen Action Network. They are formed with the purpose of being able to address the city together as one group in important issues that has impact on a larger area.

    The output of the citizens meetings has actually become useful for planning purposes since ESLARP has gotten involved. An example of this is that the city competed nationally for a special program available to very poor cities called Empowerment Community Funding. They were granted 6 or 7 million dollars for a proposal that were basically a compilation of the neighborhood plans. These neighborhood plans were the result of the cooperation of ESLARP and six neighborhood groups. Now the citizens are having a great deal of difficulties getting access to these money. One thing that the city has done is to donate $90,000 this year and $90,000 next year to the University of Illinois for funding a permanent neighborhood planning office. In addition to this ESLARP has received a similar amount of federal funding. The money has been used for starting NTAC which is a 3 person office providing very detailed technical help for the citizens.

    Based on the fact that the citizens come to the meetings in their neighborhood groups every month and that the number of citizens participating is increasing, K. Reardon concludes that the citizens feel that they get something out of being active, in the sense of self confident and qualifications for participating in political discussions. But he thinks that the citizens would identify two other activities as more important than the meetings themselves, and that is the planning process that was used to create the neighborhood plans (mentioned above) and courses that ESLARP has established for the citizens about planning related issues within the neighborhood college.

    The next question we asked K. Reardon was:

    D.2. How does ESLARP affect the possibilities of using two-way communication technology (e-mail, discussion forums on the Internet etc.) in East St. Louis?

    The fact is that very few of the local citizens in East St. Louis are using the ESLARP web site, which is the only two-way communication technology used in ESLARP. But there is hope that this situation will change in the future. Two things have already been done to change the situation. In the autumn of 1996 the used computer equipment from campus that normally gets thrown out, has been moved to East St. Louis where there has been established 3 public access stations connected to the Internet with 15 computers all together. Before that there was no entrance or exit to the information super highway from East St. Louis. The other thing that has been done in order to improve the use of the ESLARP web site is to start educating the local citizens in the use of the media. There has already been one training session for children, and 85 children showed up for this. The children inspired their parents and they demanded a training session for adults and for this event 35 adults and 70 of their children came.

    A more detailed description of who is using the ESLARP web site and for what, will be given on the page about communication.

    Our third question regarding models of Democracy was:

    D.3. What kind of information does ESLARP provide for the citizens in East St. Louis?

    The way that ESLARP generally get started in a neighborhood is that they get invited in by the local citizens. Then ESLARP usually suggest to do a survey of local conditions and also local desires and from this survey ESLARP can find out what information the citizens need. The decision of what information to give to the citizens does in this way depend on what the citizens demand and express they need. In the process of examine the needs of the neighborhood ESLARP is working in a participatory way where they try to involve as many citizens as possible, also citizens that has never been active before. In order to give the citizens the background knowledge they need to be able to determine what information they need, ESLARP has done a community organizing course, a community based crime prevention course, an environmental racism and action course and this spring they are going to make a state and local government course. Also the process of participating in creating these surveys is educating the people and make them understand how to make a similar survey in the future.

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    Answers regarding Planning theory

    The first question we asked K. Reardon about Planning theory was:

    P.1. How are participatory action research (PAR) and community organizing techniques used in East St. Louis?

    As described in the answers regarding models of democracy there is a lot of educational initiatives in ESLARP. The training of the citizens takes place through the meetings in the neighborhood groups, the courses provided by ESLARP, and the participation in the surveys and the planning process. The learning process is reciprocal in the sense that the local citizens and ESLARP staff and students are sharing knowledge. In that way the cooperation results in a learning process for both parts, where the citizens learn about planning, and ESLARP learn about local conditions and other issues where the citizens are the experts.

    The next question about Planning theory was:

    P.2. What are the participatory experiences on using empowerment planning in East St. Louis?

    The people behind ESLARP clearly fit in a tradition within planning which is committed to social equity and democratic participation. Therefore empowerment planning was kind of a natural choice of planning theory. In the first two years of the project advocacy planning was used and the experiences of that was not very positive. The participation from the citizens was zero, projects were not implemented, and the students felt that they did not learn anything about conditions in a neighborhood. So that kind of planning was clearly not the right approach. ESLARP started listening to the residents criticisms of their past experiences with ESLARP and from this criticism came the idea of using something that at this time really had not been described before: Empowerment planning. Since then the theory and the use of empowerment planning in praxis has been developing and it still is.

    As we described under models of democracy the citizens are responding to the effort of ESLARP in a very positive way. There is a large group of citizens involved in the neighborhood organizations and the participation in courses offered by ESLARP is also good. From this we can say that the citizens reaction on the call for participation is positive and this is an important background for and result of using empowerment planning.

    ESLARPs cooperation with the city council (there is no planning office in East St. Louis, it closed in 1972 and never reopened) has been changing through phases. At first the city tried to deny that ESLARP existed. Later on the city tried to hedge the work of the neighborhood groups, and now K. Reardon expresses hope for a better cooperation in the future but he says that hoping for a good partnership might be overly optimistic. He describes that the city council is very corrupt and has criminal elements in it. The president of the council is being investigated for 11 or 12 counts of voter fraud, but he is still in power.

    Our final question about Planning theory was:

    P.3. Has the use of empowerment planning and thereby citizen participation brought any tangible benefits?

    The answer of this question is definitely yes. For instance there is a federal law concerning the balance in how much money the banks take in and how much they re-lend. The numbers for the banks in East St. Louis were so embarrassing that the community group went to the federal agency that regulates the banks and said “look what is going on here”, and that resulted in that a bank gave the group money ($25,000 a year). Of other financially supporters K. Reardon mentioned the federal fund HUD (Housing and Urban Development), the US Department of agriculture, churches and lots of other sources.

    The money is used for park construction, housing rehabilitation, loans, credit counseling and other similar things. One of the important things here is to help people who took loans from “loan sharks” years ago when the banks would not help them bye or sell their houses. Some of the money is used to help these people refinance so they can get out of some very bad financially situations.

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    Answers regarding Communication

    The first question is:

    C.1. Who are the primary receiver groups?

    The primary receiver groups are the students at University of Illinois, the citizens in East St. Louis and the EGRETS technical assistance center office in East St. Louis. Right now though, not many citizens are using the web site, because the lack of access points and education in how to use computers. It is the goal to make it a much broader group of citizens who uses the web site.

    The main purpose of the web site for the different groups is: · Students: Access to the latest information as well as previous reports and an on-line library of all the research that have been done. · East St. Louis: A source of maps, to educate people about maps, and for the people to see the progress done in research.

    According to B. Orland there is taken no considerations towards fitting the language for the different receivers. The ESLARP web site is supposed to be one web site that relates to all people. If there is difference in the language used it is either not intended or a mistake. A. Chavan disagrees on this point, according to him EGRETS has been made with especially the citizens in East St. Louis in mind.

    The second question is:

    C.2.Why is the Internet chosen as the media for communication with the primary receivers?

    There are a lot of reasons for having chosen the Internet as media, e.g.:

    The benefits of using the Internet as the media is the points mentioned above and the fact that many people find it easier to surf the Internet than using a VCR or an ATM.

    The main drawback of using the Internet as the media is clearly the lack of access in East St. Louis. Another important drawback is that people in East St. Louis are not used to using computers. But still they think they are in a better position than with paper which has been used earlier without success because they tend to disappear and they did not get read by a broader group of citizens.

    The third question is:

    C3 What kind of messages are communicated through the ESLARP web site?

    It is principally B. Orland, A. Chavan and Dianne W. Phillippe who decides what information is posted on the web site, except from the discussion forum where anyone can post a message.

    Everything that goes on the ESLARP web site is controlled in one way or another by either B. Orland, A. Chavan or D. Phillippe as one of them reads the report before they are published on the web site. Besides, many of the reports published on the web site are results of class work, which always is reviewed by the faculty, so it is a kind of build in control.

    The design of the web site is a constant process. A. Chavan keeps a watch on the technology and everything that is new. Sometimes it gets out of line and technology is incorporated which ought not to be used. Besides this A. Chavan tries to solve the problems and needs, people communicate to him by e-mail.

    The fourth question is:

    C4: Who uses the ESLARP web site and do the users give feedback?

    K. Reardon has already given part of the answer to this question in his answer to question D.2. But here we will get a more detailed answer to the question.

    Besides students and faculty at University of Illinois and some citizen leaders in East St. Louis only a very few of the primary receivers use the web site. But there are people from all over the world who for some reason work with or are interested in East St. Louis and therefore use the ESLARP web site.

    The following information about the use of the ESLARP web site has been found on the ESLARP web site. In figure 1 is shown the top five from which locations people connect to the ESLARP web site, and it turns out to be from the University of Illinois (xxxx.uiuc.edu). In figure 2 is shown the placement on top 50 of outsiders accessing the ESLARP web site.

    The most used part of the ESLARP web site is, besides the ESLARP home page, the LA/UP 341 page, but also the discussion forum, EGRETS and image library is accessed a lot. In figure 3 is shown which pages on the ESLARP which are most often accessed.

    All the statistics are from the month of November 1996.

    No.

    Hits

    URL

    1

    5276

    xxxx.landarch.uiuc.edu

    2

    1677

    xxxx.urban.uiuc.edu

    3

    1044

    xxxx.landarch.uiuc.edu

    4

    839

    xxxx.urban.uiuc.edu

    5

    762

    xxxx.urban.uiuc.edu

    Figure 1: Top five sites most often accessing the ESLARP web site.

    No.

    Hits

    URL

    18

    434

    xxxx.anzwers.ozemail.net

    28

    284

    xxxx.infoseek.com

    30

    279

    xxxx.raleigh.ibm.com

    38

    212

    xxxx.atext.com

    46

    159

    xxxx.ddp.state.me.us

    47

    155

    Compuserve

    Figure 2: The placement on top 50 of outsiders accessing the ESLARP web site.

    No.

    Hits

    URL

    1

    1602

    /~eslarp

    2

    309

    /~eslarp/wwwboard/LA341-F96

    3

    284

    /~eslarp/la/LA341-F96

    4

    260

    /~eslarp/contents

    5

    136

    /~eslarp/images/cdimages

    6

    129

    /~eslarp/egrets

    7

    116

    /~eslarp/la/LA341-F96/notes

    8

    112

    /~eslarp/images

    9

    111

    /~eslarp/indextest.html

    10

    96

    /~eslarp/gis

    Figure 3: Top ten accessed URLs on the ESLARP web site.

    ESLARP gets feedback from people who are not living in East St. Louis but who for some reason are looking for information about East St. Louis. That indicates that the ESLARP web site is one of the most comprehensive web resources for East St. Louis. Sometimes ESLARP also gets request for information which is not on the web site. This helps ESLARP to build up the site.

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    Answers regarding the future of ESLARP

    The first question was asked to K. Reardon and it was:

    F.1. What will be done to increase the citizens’ feedback to the work done by the University of Illinois?

    One of the future plans is the development of a city-wide community development cooperation. It should be a central organization controlled by the citizens that would help all the neighborhoods implement the programs so it would not be necessary with all the different kinds of experts in each neighborhood.

    Another future goal is to affiliate with the community college and create a certificate program for the neighborhood activists. They are developing all kinds of skills and they should be able to receive a degree and then be employed as a professional staff person in ESLARP.

    A third very idealistic idea is to take over a Junior high school. By take over K. Reardon Means to work with students, parents and teachers who are dissatisfied with the quality of the school system. ESLARP would like to develop strong citizenship skills in the young people of East St. Louis through early education.

    The second question was asked to B. Orland and A. Chavan and it was:

    F.2. What will be done to improve the two-way communication on the ESLARP web site between the University of Illinois and East St. Louis?

    ESLARP has found and donated computers to church and neighborhood groups in East St. Louis. There are training sessions in East St. Louis for middle school children run by ESLARP and the churches have got a training program which they have build themselves independently from ESLARP.

    The third question was also asked to B. Orland and A. Chavan and it was:

    F.3. What are the plans for the ESLARP web site in the future?

    There is no plans for the future regarding maintenance, integrity and updating of the ESLARP web site, but ESLARP is aware that it is an important issue. Though right now the problem is not maintenance, integrity and updating, it is rather getting people to access the web site.

    The main purpose of the ESLARP web site in the future will be a tool for communication with the people in East St. Louis. The Internet could be a very powerful way of helping the people in East St. Louis exchange information with the University of Illinois without having to drive for three hours to meet.

    A final question that we asked all three of the persons we interviewed was:

    F.4. What is the future goal of ESLARP?

    To this question K. Reardon replied that there is no nature law saying that the living conditions in East St. Louis should be worth than anywhere else. It is manmade decisions that has made the place the way it is today. Therefore as man were able to make the decisions that produced the inequity it should be possible to pressure the decision makers to do a better job if we create a strong enough citizen group. Therefore K. Reardon hopes for a much better future for East St. Louis but he realizes that undoing the mistakes of more than 50 years will take a long time and he does not expect East St. Louis to be Paris in year 2010 but more like a well function smaller town or city. He expects the University of Illinois to continue the work they are doing in the area until a planning agency is formed whose commitment is fully professional and whose staff is working with the neighborhood organizations plans as the official plan in a participatory way. That day ESLARP can go home and feel really great. If it happens......

    According to B. Orland there is no end to the project, because it keeps moving. The idealistic goal of the ESLARP is to B. Orland that:

    “... not just improving the life in ESL but it’s improving the ability of white people an black people to communicate with each other. Now we have just predominant white educated, moneyed group of people on this campus most of them whom have never been in contact with a person of color, and a person who are poor, a person who is not well educated you know. This part of this program is much more important than anything you do for the development of resources, and just getting people face to face so that they realize that each other are human beings.”

    Another important factor is that the students which are mainly white people from upper and middle class, need to understand that the African American people are possible to work with and. And opposite that the citizens in East St. Louis get to understand that the students are not all “jerks” either.

    This was the answers to our questions. In the next we will use the answers, the interviews and our theoretical knowledge about citizen participation to evaluate the citizen participation in East St. Louis.

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    Evaluation of ESLARP

    As described earlier the purpose of using a case in this project is to give a practical example of how citizen participation can be affected by implementing some of the aspects from the chapters about models of democracy, planning theory and communication theory.

    We have also described that we wish to evaluate the ESLARP case in context of what already has been achieved to improve the citizen participation. This evaluation should give a picture of what can be expected or hoped for in the future.

    The section is divided in four parts in relation to our three theories and the future perspectives. For each part we will examine whether our suggestions from the theoretical chapters is used in East St. Louis. We will also recommend what can be done to improve the citizen participa-tion. Our evaluation is based on our theoretical understanding of good citizen participation.

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    Evaluation of the state of democracy in ESLARP

    The main question for this subject is: D. How does ESLARP affect the state of democracy (the citizenship) in East St. Louis?

    The interview with K. Reardon has given us a lot of interesting information about this ques-tion. In this context we would like to mention that during the interview we observed and made notes about body language, mimics etc. and K. Reardon seemed interested, honest and sincere.

    Our overall impression is clearly that ESLARP has made the situation much better than it was before it got involved. Despite of this conclusion we have to say that there is still a lot to be done before a strong democracy is established in East St. Louis. To illustrate this conclusion we will accentuate some important results of our interview.

    A very important achievement of ESLARP is that a larger group of citizens has become in-volved in improving their living conditions. That in itself is a victory for democracy. It is important to continue this development and keep getting more citizens to speak up and get in-volved. The situation before ESLARP got involved were very bad for the state of democracy because the citizens were afraid to express their opinions and did not think that anybody would listen if they did.

    A huge problem that still exists is the corrupt city government. A necessary condition for a democratic society is that the elected officials and representatives can be trusted to work for the common good and not for personal benefits. Because of this it must be an important issue for ESLARP to work for a change of the situation and get citizens elected who will work for improvements for the hole society.

    The way to get the local citizens ready to get elected goes through education. And in this field ESLARP is very active. ESLARP has done and is still doing an important job that makes it possible for the involved citizen to, during time, develop the necessary skills in order to get elected.

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    Evaluation of the used planning theory in ESLARP

    The main question for this subject is: P. Why is the planning theory empowerment planning used in East St. Louis?

    Our overall impression of the use of empowerment planning in East St. Louis is very positive. From the answers given to us in our interview with K. Reardon it is clear to us that empowerment planning is the right approach for an area with the problems East St. Louis has.

    The previous attempt to use advocacy planning failed and we can see that a lot of the benefits that is supposed to come from using empowerment planning is already taking place in East St. Louis. We feel confident that no other planning theory that we know of would work better and we think that empowerment planning will continue to improve the living conditions for the citizens in East St. Louis.

    Examples of the success of the use of empowerment planning in East St. Louis is the continuously growing group of involved citizens and the quality of the plans they produce in cooperation with ESLARP. The fact that a large group of citizens keep showing up for the courses arranged by ESLARP and demand more education is also a clear sign that empowerment planning is working and needed.

    On this background the answer to our main question is that empowerment planning is the best possible planning theory for the area and that this planning theory has been and still is developing with the project.

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    Evaluation of the Communication in ESLARP

    Compared to the two before mentioned parts of the evaluation this part is more detailed described because we in general find that the communication on the ESLARP web site between the University of Illinois and the citizens in East St. Louis is insufficient and could be im-proved.

    The main question for this subject is: C. How is the communication between ESLARP and the citizens in East St. Louis taking place?

    The interview with B. Orland and A. Chavan has given us a lot of interesting information about this question. In this context we would like to mention that during the interview we observed and made notes about body language, mimics etc. and there was nothing extraordi-nary to comment on.

    We find that the use of the Internet as the media for communication is a good idea, because there are a lot of benefits compared to the alternative media. We can not think of a media which has the same amount of benefits as the Internet both in relation to the citizens in East St. Louis and the University of Illinois. But from our point of view the benefits for the Uni-versity are more obvious than the benefits for the citizens. We find it hard in present time to see the benefits for the citizens because they are not able to use the Internet as a result of lack of education, computers and access to the Internet.

    In the long run we can see the possibilities and the benefits for the citizens too but it is all a matter of access to computers and thereby project funding. We have already seen that the citizens are very interested in learning and using computers for this reason it should not be a problem to use the Internet in the communication process. Of course this is provided that all the citizens continuously will be trained and educated in using the technology so they have the possibility and skills to participate in the planning process on the ESLARP web site.

    We see the present lack of feedback from the citizens in East St. Louis as a result of the fact that until very recently the opportunities to communicate on the current media has been miss-ing. The citizens have already shown their interest in planning issues of East St. Louis by participating in the arranged courses about planning. We assume they would like to participate if they had the chance. Therefore we suggest that the limited access to computers should be expanded to the expected demand.

    Besides the lack of feedback from the citizens in East St. Louis ESLARP gets a lot of feedback from all over the world which is a great help in building up the web site. The feedback is also an indication of interests in the case from people who are not involved in ESLARP.

    Another thing which we find critical about the ESLARP web site is the difference in difficulty in the language on the web pages. An example is EGRETS compared to the class reports made by students at the University. The class reports are more difficult to understand for out-siders than EGRETS which is specifically made to be usable for a wider range of people and therefore is written in a simple language. Actually there seems to be a disagreement about determining the difficulty of the language on the web site. Since the citizens in East St. Louis and the students at the University of Illinois both are primary receivers of the information communicated on the ESLARP web site, all the web pages ought to be written so everyone can understand and use the work done by the students. That includes the citizens in East St. Louis. Otherwise it will only be the University of Illinois who benefits by using the media. Therefore we find the lack of a strategy for the use of language very critical because it indi-cates that there is a serious problem about who the ESLARP web site is addressing and for what purpose it is made. This problem must be solved and taking care of in the near future.

    We also find the control of the information posted on the ESLARP web site insufficient. In our opinion the build in control of the class work is not enough because it does not eliminate the fact that a lot of the assignments are based on and contain fictive numbers. This is O.K. for class work and training in using techniques but when the work is published it is accessible for everybody and especially for the citizens in East St. Louis. The idea of letting the University of Illinois and the citizens work together is to produce useful information and knowledge for both groups. We therefore find it natural for the citizens to use and relate to the class work when planning in East St. Louis even if the information sometimes is fictive. It is difficult to separate real from fictive information when you do not possess knowledge about the subject. At worst the use of the class work for decision making and planning could result in unrealistic plans and economic problems in East St. Louis which is faraway from the intentions with ESLARP. We realize that the citizens in East St. Louis do not make plans by themselves but often are guided and educated by planners from the University of Illinois. But the information on the ESLARP web site is going to be the main source for inspiration and initiation to planning in East St. Louis. Therefore it is important to come to a decision as to the quality of the information published on the ESLARP web site.

    The solution to the two above mentioned problems might be to state a policy concerning the difficulty of the language and the realistically of the work made by the students at the Uni-versity of Illinois. It is also necessary to discuss the maintenance, the integrity and the up-dating of the ESLARP web site. This is done in the next section. Evaluation of the future goals for ESLARP We find the use of the Internet as the media for the communication between the University of Illinois and the citizens in East St. Louis critical as it is now because there is taken no consid-erations towards maintenance, integrity and updating of the ESLARP web site. If these problems are taken care of in the future we believe that the Internet will be the best media for communication between the University of Illinois and the citizens in East St. Louis.

    In relation to the use of planning theory in the future there is no doubt that empower planning is the best choice, especially if the theory continues to develop according to the needs in East St. Louis. A benefit from the use of empowerment planning in ESLARP is that the students who have worked with subjects related to East. St. Louis hopefully will use their knowledge about empowerment planning in future employment situations.

    A benefit from the ESLARP web site is that a lot of universities and cities have shown interest in the project. This interest might inspire them to start up similar project in low income neigh-borhoods. Another important factor in broadening the knowledge about ESLARP is the lectures held by the ESLARP staff at the University of Illinois and the work weekends arranged for the students. In general we find that the project is a great success but as K. Reardon said:

    “I'm afraid that part of the reason that we have a large number of participants isn't because we're so great but its because we're one of the few watering stops on the desert.”

    Therefore we hope that a number of similar projects will be initiated in the near future.

    From all of this section we have given our opinion about the citizen participation in East St. Louis. We have been critical and explained what we would recommend to do to establish a better citizen participation in East St. Louis. From what K. Reardon told us in the interview this is a critical need for ESLARP:

    “...training people on how to do this better is a real critical need and there's no re-search on it. Your article would be one of the few...we've had lots of articles on our project...but they've all been descriptive articles written by us, saying how wonderful it is. Because we've had to raise funds and continue to keep political support at the University. And that's all well and good. But somebody ought to really hold a candle to this and see... Because we go around and say that pretty thorough research and empowerment planning will do A, B, and C. And some people decide "Hey let's do it!" on the belief that these things are in fact achieved when, you know, there are things that we say are the outcomes of this...when I haven't really seen a whole lot of evidence...hard evidence...that it's actually true yet. And it's important...it's so impor-tant you know...”

    So we have tried to be critical and hope that this evaluation can be used to improve the citizen participation in East St. Louis and the use of the ESLARP web site.

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    Bibliography

    Books used for describing models of democracy and citizenship:

    Held, David: Models of democracy ,Polity Press, 1989 ISBN 0-7459-0043-3

    *her mangler noget mere om bogen

    The main purpose of this book is to give a definition of the term Democracy, and to describe the wide range of opinions about what the definition should be. The book gives an introduction to four classic and four modern models of democracy. The book also debates how a modern democracy ought to be.

    Barber, Benjamin R.: Strong Democracy, University of California Press, Ltd., 1984 ISBN 0-520-05115-7

    The main subject of this book is to describe how to achieve a strong democracy through establishing a strong citizenship. By strong citizenship Barber means that citizens in general should be active and equal participants in the political debate and the decision making process. Barber gives a recipe for achieving a strong citizenship.

    Williams, Bruce A. and Matheny, Albert R.: Democracy, Dialogue, and Environmental Disputes, Yale University Press, 1995 ISBN 0-300-06241-9

    An important issue in this book is that different groups speak different types of language and this affects the dialogue in a negative way. This leads to a problem in the democratic process of involving citizens because of lack of understanding between different groups in the society. The book deals mainly with planning and decision making in the context of environmental issues. The book refers to Barbers book (see above) in order to find a model for creating a strong democratic society.

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    Books used for describing planning theory:

    Sager, Tore: Communicative Planning Theory, Avebury, England, 1994 ISBN 1-85628-543-x

    In this book Sager describes the SITAR-model and the five planning theories in the model: Synoptic planning, Incrementalism, Transactive-, Advocacy-, and Recalcitrant planning. Especially he emphasizes on synoptic planning and incrementalism.

    Stein, Jay M.: Classic Readings in Urban Planning, an introduction, McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, 1995 ISBN 0-07-061138-6

    The Science of "Muddling Through" (pp. 35-48). In this article, Charles Lindblom presents a compelling critique of the rational planning model. The author argues that the formalized planning approach to decision making -- the rational-comprehensive method -- can be practiced only on very simple problems. For complex problems, it is not feasible to conduct a systematic comparison of a multitude of values. Thus, according to Lindblom, most decision makers rely on a method of “successive limited comparisons,” or “muddling through,” rather than on the rational-comprehensive method.

    Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning (pp. 48-63). In this article, Paul Davidoff challenges the planning profession with a call for a new type of planner: the comprehensive city planner, who will be an advocate for the poor, broadly educated, and concerned as mush with social and economic issues as with physical planning. Davidoff argues the importance of planners who are advocates rather than dispassionate professionals, and deeply involved in the politics of planning. According to Davidoff, for an effective urban democracy, planners should encourage pluralism by giving voice, power, and representation to the concerns of many interest groups, especially the poor.

    Reardon, Kenneth M.: Community Development in Low-Income Minority Neighborhoods: A Case for Empowerment Planning Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Association of the Collegiate Schools in Planning, Phoenix, Arizona, November 4, 1994

    This paper provides a basic description of empowerment planning, compares advocacy and empowerment planning models, and argues for the adoption of empowerment planning for development projects in low-income neighborhoods. Planners seeking to promote the interests of the poor using advocacy planning methods have achieved modest results. This is particularly true in cities where resources are scarce, political power is concentrated and the social distance between planners and residents is great. In these communities, an empowerment planning approach that incorporates the creative problem-solving of participatory action research, PAR and the citizen mobilization and leadership development emphasis of community organizing into the core of the planning process is needed.

    Faludi, A.: A Reader in Planning Theory, Oxford: Pergamon Press

    Mixed-Scanning: A "Third" Approach to Decision-Making (pp. 217-229) Rationalistic models tend to posit a high degree of control over the decision-making situation on the part of the decision-maker. The incrementalist approach presents an alternative model, referred to as the art of “muddling through”, which assumes mush less command over the environment. This article outlines a third approach to social decision-making which, in combining elements of the mentioned approaches, is neither as utopian in its assumptions as the first model nor as conservative as the second. For reasons which will become evident, this third approach is referred to as mixed-scanning.

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    Books used for describing communication theory:

    Windahl, Sven and Signitzer, Benno with Olson, Jean T.: Using Communication Theory - An Introduction to Planned Communication, SAGE Publications Inc., 1992 ISBN 0-8039-8430-8

    Sven Windahl is Associate Professor at the University of Växjö and a communication consultant at KAN Kommunikationsanalys AB, Stockholm, Sweden. Benno Signitzer is Associate Professor in the Department of Communications and Journalism, Salzburg University, Austria Jean T. Olson is Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA.

    This broad-ranging textbook provides a clear comprehensive introduction to using communication theory in real-life communication activities. It will be essential reading for students of public communication campaigns, health information, advertising, public relations and other communication-based professions.

    Planned communication, both interpersonal and through the mass media, has become a standard facet of modern life. It is as important in public health campaigns on smoking, drugs or AIDS as in commercial advertising and public relations. This textbook outlines how such communication practice can be informed by an understanding of theories of communication that have evolved over the last thirty years.

    How are ideas diffused through the mass media and other channels of communication? How does the audience read a message? What is known about the impact of different ways of handling a communication campaign? In examining these and similar questions the authors offer students helpful guidance through the often complex area of communication theory, relating it throughout to its practical implication.

    Habermas, Jürgen: The Theory of Communicative action, volume one Reason and the rationalization of society, Beacon Press, Boston, 1984 ISBN 0-8070-1506-7

    The book is translated and with an introduction by Thomas McCarthy who is a professor of philosophy at Boston University. Thomas McCarthy has translated a number of Habermas’ previous works and is the author of The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas.

    This path breaking work is guided by three interrelated concerns: (1) to develop a concept of communicative rationality that is no longer tied to the subjective and individualistic premises of modern social and political theory; (2) to construct a two level concept of society that integrates the “life world” and “system” paradigms; and (3) to sketch out a critical theory of modernity that explains its sociopathologies in a new way.

    Habermas approaches these tasks through a combination of conceptual analysis, systematic reflections, and critical reconstructions of such predecessors as Marx and Weber, Durkheim and Mead, Horkheimer and Adorno, Schultz and Parsons.

    Reason and the rationalization of society develop a sociological theory of action that stresses not its means-ends or teleological aspect, but the need to coordinate socially via communication.

    In the introductory chapter Habermas sets out a powerful series of arguments on such foundational issues as cultural and historical relativism, the methodology of Verstehen, the inseparability of interpretation from critique. In addition to clarifying the normative foundations of critical social inquiry, this sets the stage for a systematic appropriation of Webers theory of rationalization and of its Marxist reception by Lukas, Horkheimer and Adorno.

    Jürgen Habermas, professor of philosophy at the University of Frankfurt in Germany, is the leading representative today of the Frankfurt School tradition of social thought. He is the author of numerous books and articles ranging from sociology and political science to psychology, linguistics and philosophy.

    Forester, John: Critical Theory and Planning Practice, Journal of the American Planing Association, July 1980, vol. 76, #3

    In planning practice, communication is political. When a community organization or a developer obtains information it can be as important as what information is obtained. What planners do not say can be as important as what they do say. Planners shape not only documents or information, then, but also citizens' access to information, their understanding and interpretation of such information, and their ability to participate effectively in political processes affecting their lives. The structure of the planning process reflects a systematic pattering of communication that thus influences levels of community organization, citizen participation, and autonomous, responsible citizen action. This paper applies Jürgen Habermas’ critical communications theory of society to planning practice in order to clarify (1) how planning practice works as commutative action, (2) how planning action and broader political-economic forces may work to thwart or foster a democratic planning process, and (3)how, then, a planning theory assessing planning practice can be concretely empirical and immediately normative, offering us pragmatic strategy and political vision together. Critical theory illuminates both structural obstacles to a democratic planning process and the practical opportunities planners have to counteract and overcome those obstacles.

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    Document authors : Lene Morthensen, Janni Sorensen & Torben Thisted Jacobsen
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    Last modified: December 18, 1996


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