Should Public Meetings Offer Translation?

Rezoning in New York's Lower East Side brings the issue of language to the fore, as members of the Spanish and Chinese communities find themselves unable to participate in important decisions about their neighborhoods.

"Should Community Boards offer interpreters for their public hearings?

That became a topic of contention when a wonky zoning meeting on May 12 about the Lower East Side rezoning erupted into screaming, accusations of racism and an arrest.

The demonstrators demanded Chinese and Spanish translators for the Community Board 3 meeting, but their protests were really pointing to a deeper anxiety about the rezoning process - the exclusion of minorities."

Full Story: Lower East Side Rezoning, in Translation




As a planner I see the need to have translation, so that everyone in the community has a chance to participate in the planning process. But translating can also make people lazy when it comes to learning the dominate language of their new country. Pretty much everything is translated nowadays, which enables people not to have to learn english. I believe this ability to get by not learning english in our country is bad. We need to push the importance of learning english, so that we can better understand each other especially in a multi-ethnic culture like ours.

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