Isami Kinoshita, Chiba University
This article examines the challenge of negotiating community differences in the cases of two historic communities undergoing changes and redevelopment—the International District in Seattle and the Kogane District in Matsudo, Japan. Based on findings from participant observations and interviews, the article examines how the fragmentation of local communities presents both challenges for planning and opportunities for rethinking the practice of participation. The article argues that the challenges for participatory planning in fragmented communities lie not only in understanding and articulating the community differences but also in generating creative ways for meaningful interactions and negotiation of competing visions, interests, and values. The experiences and outcomes in International District and Kogane both suggest the importance of informal processes. Without the limitations imposed by institutional processes and formal participatory mechanisms, informal activities and social events can often produce unexpected and significant results. They allow planners and community organizers to navigate political and cultural nuances in negotiating community differences.