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Urban Communication Reader IV

Cities as Communicative Change Agents


Edited By erin daina mcclellan, Yongjun Shin and Curry Chandler

Today, the world is facing climate change, wealth inequality, housing crises, food shortages, mass migration, and now a global health pandemic. Cities are at the heart of both these problems and their solutions. Urban communication scholars are well-poised to examine the change initiatives that are both caused and inspired by such complex problems. This volume provides a collection of urban communication research focused on how examining change through the lens of communication provides unique processual understandings of cities as dynamic sites formed through the interplay between concrete cases and conceptual ideas. The first section, Change through Institutional Intervention, addresses how diverse societal institutions—including policy, regulation, planning, and voluntary arts—interplay with changes in our urban communities. The second section, Change in Place and through Space, explores various ways in which spaces and places are able to transform through communicative practice, specifically focusing on how space and place provide unique frames for communicating change and influencing interaction in cities. The third section, Change through Participation and Engagement, collectively draws attention to the ways that public participation and engagement are utilized in cities in ways that enhance the communication both within and about them, focusing specifically on how this happens globally in teaching and learning environments, community planning partnerships, industrial site redevelopment projects, and approaches to food sovereignty in urban agricultural initiatives.
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1. Planning for Change: The Rhetorical (Re)invention of Urban Parks: KAITLYN HAYNAL, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, U.S.


1. Planning for Change: The Rhetorical (Re)invention of Urban Parks



Urban parks are valuable symbols for promoting sustainable capital, environmental, and equitable development of competitive cities. However, many contemporary urban parks exhibit signs of degradation from decades of use, misuse and neglect, necessitating significant urban planning initiatives to restore these vital green commons. The documents written and designed by urban planners to envision park restoration reflect plans for change through institutional intervention. Looking at the post-industrial city of Pittsburgh, in this chapter I conduct a critical rhetorical analysis of the 2000 Pittsburgh’s Regional Parks Master Plan and Regional Parks Master Plan 2012 Update to analyze how themes of sustainability, urban identity and livability, and future cities are rhetorically figured in urban park planning. As a “living” document, designed to be updated over time, I argue that the Parks Master Plan reflects how changing institutional needs impact urban planners’ pursuit of creating a parks system suitable for developing Pittsburgh as a sustainable city of the future.

Keywords: city planning, institutional intervention, parks, planning documents, Pittsburgh, post-industrial, public space, sustainability, urban studies, rhetorical criticism, spatial representation

The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies, and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources; it is a right...

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