Leonie Sandercock joined the School of Community & Regional Planning at UBC in July 2001 and served as Director of the School from July 2006 to November 2007. Her main research interest is in working with First Nations, through collaborative community planning, using the medium of film as a catalyst for dialogue, on the possibilities of healing, reconciliation, and partnership. She is using her recently completed documentary (with Giovanni Attili) 'Finding Our Way' as a catalyst for dialogues in BC communities (see www.mongrel-stories.com and www.facebook.com/FINDING.OUR.WAY.thefilm).
Other research interests include immigration, cultural diversity and integration; participatory planning, democracy, and information and communication technologies; fear and the city, particularly as this relates to 'fear of the other'; the possibilities of a more therapeutic model of planning; the importance of stories and storytelling in planning theory and practice; and the role of multimedia in planning.
Leonie was Professor and Head of Graduate Urban Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney from 1981-1986, before moving to Los Angeles where she had two careers, one in screenwriting, the other teaching in the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UCLA, both of which were life-transforming experiences.
She has also written books about sport (Australian football) and about the Australian labor movement, and had one of her screenplays produced as an ABC TV Movie of the Week in 1992 while living in LA. Her best known urban writings are Cities for Sale (1975); Public Participation in Planning (1975); The Land Racket (1979); Urban Political Economy: the Australian Case (1983), with Mike Berry; Making the Invisible Visible: A Multicultural History of Planning (1998); Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for Multicultural Cities (1998); and Cosmopolis 2: Mongrel Cities of the 21st Century (2003). She now collaborates with Giovanni Attili (University of Rome) on documentaries (Where Strangers Become Neighbours, 2007; and Finding Our Way, 2010) and books: Where Strangers Become Neighbours: the integration of immigrants in Vancouver, Canada (2009), and an edited collection Multimedia in Urban Policy and Planning: Beyond the Flatlands (2010).
Working with two First Nations communities in north central BC since 2007 has brought about a change of direction in Leonie's work. She is now focusing on the work of healing, reconciliation and the possibility of partnerships between Native and non-Native Canadians, and community development and cross-cultural dialogue in historically divided communities. Since 2010, Leonie has been working on a new curriculum, Indigenous Community Planning (ICP), within SCARP's Masters degree. This curriculum has been designed and is now being delivered in partnership with the Musqueam First Nation, on whose traditional, ancestral and unceded territory UBC is located. In 2013, there are ten students enrolled in the ICP program, which consists of five core courses, plus an internship with a First Nation or Indigenous organization, and a Practicum in a First Nations community in BC.
Off-campus, Leonie likes to go surfing, dancing, swimming in long lakes and walking in the rain forest, as well as reading novels, writing poetry, and feasting with friends. For balance, she finds peace in a cabin in the forest on an island in Coast Salish territory.
In 2003 Leonie received a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant to establish the Vancouver Cosmopolis Laboratory at SCARP. This Lab is now being used to explore the uses of multimedia in planning practice and research. The first product of the Lab was the 50 minute documentary film, by Giovanni Attili and Leonie Sandercock, 'Where Strangers become Neighbours: the story of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House and the integration of immigrants in Vancouver'. Information about and a preview of this film can be found at www.mongrel-stories.com. This film received a Special Mention in the International Federation of Housing and Planning's film competition (Sept 2006) and an Honorable Mention in the Documentary section of the Berkeley Video and Film Festival (Oct 2006). The film is now distributed by the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.
In 2005 Leonie received The Dale Prize for Excellence in Urban & Regional Planning, awarded by the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at California State Polytechnic University. The 2005 Dale Prize theme was "Voices in Planning: Transforming Land Use Practice through Community Engagement".
Also in 2005 Leonie received The Davidoff Award, from the American Collegiate Schools of Planning. This is a biennial award for the best book in the field of urban, regional, and community planning, in the spirit of the ideals of the late Paul Davidoff concerning social justice and equity, for Cosmopolis 2: Mongrel Cities of the 21st Century (London & NY: Continuum, 2003).
In March 2007 Leonie received the BMW Group Award for Intercultural Learning for her writing on Cosmopolitan Urbanism and for her collaboration with Vancouver's Collingwood Neighbourhood House, with whom she shared first prize.
In Sept 2012 Leonie was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for lifetime contribution to planning scholarship by Roskilde University in Denmark.
Major Areas of Engagement in Sustainability Planning
1. Planning Theory and History
My intellectual project for the past two decades has been to diversify planning theory and history. In Towards Cosmopolis (1998) I used feminist, postmodern, and postcolonial theories to critique mainstream (modernist) planning theory and the ‘official story’ of planning history. In the edited collection, Making the Invisible Visible (1998), I go beyond critiquing the official story, and begin to explore insurgent planning histories, and the hidden or suppressed stories of marginalized social groups. I continue to be interested in theories of difference and their importance for planning practice. At the same time, I have tried to formulate a radical social project for planning, one that broadens the debate about what planning is, and who may be considered to be engaged in planning. One central question is how and why do cities change, And how might planning contribute to social transformation. Another question concerns the knowledge/power nexus, and who might be considered a ‘knower’, and what might be considered valid knowledge. A third challenge is how to democratise planning practices. Finally, I am currently engaged in an inquiry into the powers and limitations of story and storytelling in planning practice and scholarship.
2. Indigenous Community Planning
As part of the new Indigenous Community Planning curriculum, I have developed and co-teach with the Elder, Gerry Oleman (Statliam Nation) a new foundation course, 'Indigenous Community Planning: ways of being, knowing, and doing'. We teach this course in a non-traditional way, over three intensive weekends, and using the Talking Circle format. We spend at least a third of our class time on the Musqueam Reserve, learning from Elders and other culturally knowledgeable community members, and walking the land with them. The core of this course is understanding an Indigenous world view and developing an Indigenous planning paradigm from that starting point. The challenge is to think through what it means to unlearn the colonial culture of planning and to begin to decolonize our personal as well as professional practices.
Most relevant course: PLAN 548P
Other related courses: PLAN 548Q (Indigenous Law and Governance)
3. Cross-cultural Planning
If the new cultural politics of difference asks us to take seriously issues of identity, voice, and the rights to the city of hitherto marginalized groups, then I ask, how should planning practice respond to this new political environment (the rise of civil society)? Should planning practices aim to be neutral with respect to gender, race, culture, or should these issues be tackled as part of a larger framework of social justice and planning? My answer is to expand the framework of social justice to address difference in the city. Thus I have developed a course that looks not only at the policy implications of ‘difference’ (all kinds of differences) but also looks at how practitioners can become more adept at working cross-culturally. Ongoing research includes inquiries into ways of institutionalizing anti-racism and diversity training for urban professionals and in urban governance, and ways in which marginalized groups can become makers of their own histories.
My current research explores the uses of film in social change and therapeutic planning practice. Specifically, I'm interested in ways in which the making of and engaging with film in carefully designed community settings may open up a space for difficult conversations about past and ongoing conflicts and injustices, and offer the potential for healing and for moving forward into sustainable community planning partnerships. (see Sandercock and Attili, 'Unsettling a Settler Society: film, phronesis and collaborative planning in small-town Canada', in Flyvbjerg et al, Real Social Science, Cambridge University Press, 2012; Sandercock and Attili, ‘The Past as Present: film as community planning intervention in Native/non-Native relations in BC, Canada’ in Jojola, Natcher, and Walker (eds), Reclaiming Indigenous Planning, forthcoming, Summer 2013, McGill-Queens University Press)