Thursday, 31 May 2018 02:36

Heimatplanung (Homeland planning)

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While spatial planning in Germany is gradually losing its former significance and influence, a new approach to planning is rising in the country: Heimatplanung (homeland planning). Following the last elections, the former Bavarian Prime Minister, a hardcore conservative and head of the Bavarian wing of the Christian Democratic Party gave up his job in Munich to become Minister of the Interior in Berlin. The main rationale behind his move was to better guide, or rather control, migration policies in Germany, a task, which is traditionally in the hands of the Ministry of Interior.

When he took up his new function, one of the first actions he undertook was to rename the Ministry into Ministerium für Inneres, für Bau und Heimat, on its website not quite accurately translated into Ministry of Interior, Building and Community. This surprising branding of the Ministry reflects a popular mood across Europe in times of globalisation: the rediscovery of the Heimat. This mood, which has caused Brexit, the rightwing movement in France, or the Hungarian attitude towards Europe, are the worries of citizens that they are losing cultural identity.

Instead of ridiculing the action of the Ministry, planners should be wise enough to grasp the retro-denomination of the Ministry as a new chance to revitalise their shattered reputation, and to remind political arenas that protecting the Heimat has always been the overarching aim of spatial planning. Heimat had always had a bad image among academic planners. It reflected conservative cultural and political values and parochialism. Planners did not dare to link the pursuit for Heimat, for protecting local and regional life spaces with their ambitions to guide spatial development. They postulated participation, though they only welcomed participation by those citizens, who share their same liberal values.

Spatial Planning has always been “homeland planning” for people in their homelands, not just planning for investors and developers, promoted and controlled by bureaucrats and lawyers. It could be a window of opportunity to regain respect and influence.

Robert Upton responded to this blog with a Question: Interesting. Is Klaus actually promoting a plurality or contest of ’heimat’?

Klaus replied:

My brief blog is both an ironic statement and a hint to the planning community to benefit from the surprising (re-) discovery of „Heimat“ and use it as a field of promoting spatial planning for people, not for investors. 
 
Heimat:  I assume  the English translation homeland does not reflect the complex meaning and historical load of the German word, which is never used in a plural form. Heimate does to exist!
 
As a rule, 
 
o The meaning of Heimat changes with distance. In Asia, it is Europe, in Europe it is the country of residence, in the country it is the city, in the city it is the urban district, 
 
o Few people only have more than one Heimat, though the Heimat may change over long years of biography or with changing family conditions. 
 
o There is no competition for a Heimat, though when asking people they may express a preference, where they would have preferred to be borne (e.g. in Switzerland) or to reside, once their Heimat is not a secure place to live (e.g. Syria) .
 
o There is a contest for preferred spaces of living and working, having a second home, a enjoying life after retirement, though memories of Heimat do never fade . Even expatriates will always remember the places they would call H eimat.
 
o Places in Europe compete for investments, for qualified labour and for tourists, though not for offering a feeling of H eimat.
 
o Heimat“ planning seems to express the need for a renaissance of spatial planning, which, at least in Germany, has become a mere administrative exercise, too far away from the roots and concerns of people.
 
o In times of globalization and digitalization,  Heimat offers roots for people. Here the planning community finds a good rationale for planning. 
 
o It may nota be wise to use the term Heimat, in planning documents, but the meaning behind could help to raise the value of planning in the community.
 
I hope this explains my brief blog.
 
CH 2 June 208
 
 

 

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