Utah, like many cities in the western United States, has seen a large influx of foreign immigrants over the past two decades. While this is not a new concept to a nation of immigrants, there is a growing discrepancy in the involvement of recent immigrants in community planning initiatives.
From transit to housing to open space, the needs and aspirations of immigrants vary widely. How do we bring these voices to the table through community visioning, charrettes, and comprehensive planning initiatives?
The Sugar House/South Salt Lake Streetcar is an innovative transit project in the Salt Lake Valley. While the streetcar is generally noted as an economic generator for new urban growth and community revitalization, one of the hidden stories is one of human interest. The route of the streetcar will connect through the most culturally and ethnically diverse district in the region, a place settled predominantly by political and environmental refugees. With over 80 languages spoken, reaching this audience to involve them in critical community conversations has been a challenge—many have never participated in anything like a democratic town hall meeting in their lives.
Urban planner and Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen and invited presenter Leslie Kelen, Executive Director for the Center for Documentary Expression and Arts, will discuss the "other voices" in the community, how they have shaped Salt Lake City culturally, and how they are embracing and participating in new-found community through initiatives such as the streetcar, Jordan River Parkway and restoration, and community connectors such as the 9 Line Trail and Parleys Trail projects. The presentation will cover methods for identifying and engaging under-represented voices, breaking down cultural barriers to community involvement, and addressing the importance of connecting under-represented communities to decision processes for urban infrastructure, which for many is essential to daily life.