Review: Place, Community and Continuity
Canadian municipalities are increasingly embracing cultural mapping, a systematic approach to building information on a community’s cultural resources, as an essential planning and economic development tool. A recent book published in Malaysia signals just how widely these ideas are spreading. Cultural Mapping: A Guide to Understanding Place, Community and Continuity by Janet Pillai makes a major contribution to advancing the field. Millier Dickinson Blais’ Greg Baeker wrote the Preface to the book. The book pushes the mapping of both tangible and intangible (e.g., stories, traditions, or beliefs) cultural resources to integrated planning systems addressing social, economic and environmental decision-making.
Beginning with Jon Hawkes influential The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: Culture’s Essential Role in Public Planning, considerable energy has been invested in finding tools to “operationalize” and put into practice these powerful ideas in actual planning systems. Agenda 21 for Culture, a network of global cities connecting to support cultural development, has made important contributions to this agenda. Pillai’s work moves this agenda ahead in a significant and concrete way and provides some interesting case studies where the ideas and practices are applied. While the economic and cultural context in Malaysia differs substantially from that of Canadian or American cities, there are important insights and tools to advance more integrated planning for culture for those involved in economic or cultural development in North America. It’s well worth picking up a copy here.