Is the ‘new’ strategic planning suited to coping with the issues of globalization?
The autobiography My Art, My Life is a richly revealing document by the painter Diego Rivera, who revolutionized modern mural painting and was the principal figure in launching the Mexican Renaissance. It is one of the frankest confessions I have ever read. The breadth of his sympathies, his vitality and his love for life run through his prose as it does through his paintings. It is Rivera’s apologia: a self-portrait of a complex and controversial personality. Perhaps the greatest artist the Americas have ever produced, Rivera tells the story of his intellectual and artistic journey. He introduces us to the masters and the ideology to which he was most drawn, his warm friendships and his bitter fights. What is the link here with globalization? Well, Rivera reveals that his real coming to maturity, to his own identity and style, coincided with his second return from Europe to his homeland in 1921. He stresses (p. 31) that ‘he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil’ and ‘the more native the art is, the more it belongs to the entire world’. I would like to take these sentences as a starting point for my article. Only I won’t be talking about paintings and painters, but rather about planning approaches and the way they respond to the challenges and developments (also of globalization) faced by our cities and city-regions. My argument has five parts. First, I want to focus on the developments and challenges that our cities and city-regions are facing. Second, I will argue that a planning approach, in a sense like Rivera’s position, should be centred on the elaboration of a mutually beneficial dialectic between a response to globalization and local uniqueness. Third, I would like to consider an alternative planning approach that combines vision and action, the global and the local, diversity and specificity. Fourth, I want to reflect on what kind of governance is needed for such an approach. And finally, I will close with some comments on the contribution that planning and planners can make, along with a few remarks on growth fetishism.