The 'Decolonial Planning' Project
Annette Koh provides a treatise on "Decolonial Planning" a project that will require a "radical restructuring of finance, government, and our relationship with for-profit ventures."
Here, Koh connects the historical and the contemporary to describe the characteristics of planning as colonization and its continued influence:
In North America, European ideas about property and land rights allowed for the expulsion of indigenous peoples in the name of progress — with enclosure and privatization going hand in hand with public investment. Founding mythologies such as Thomas Jefferson’s yeoman farmer and the sturdy pioneer turning wilderness into productive farms valorized “improvement” as defined by colonial frameworks of capitalism and justified the displacement of those who had not properly utilized land by these imported standards. Fences and wheat signified “worthy” improvement, while relational knowledge of place, season, and kinship were invisible. Although disavowed today, urban renewal and the wholescale demolition of working class communities of color in the name of progress relied on the same disregard for social value. In present day discussions about the importance of activating “underutilized” public parks, planning yet again fails to see what already exists there in the rush to make spaces attractive to outside interests.
Koh lists some concepts from Hawai'i and New Zealand that could guide a reconstruction of legal and regulatory regimes, and redefine the frequently used term "highest and best use."
In fact, planners are already working on the practical project of decolonizing planning in Hawai'I, according to Koh:
I admit that I am not entirely sure how one goes about decolonizing a county planning department, but the head of Hawai‘i County’s planning department came to our Decolonizing Cities symposium in November 2018 and asked that very question. Planners at the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and in other community organizations are also figuring out how to sustain people’s connection to the ‘aina' by making operating expenses a self-generating fund that reinvests in local needs.