Planning for multiculturalism: a comparison of approaches in two metro-Atlanta cities
Pienta, Alison Jo
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Over the past two decades, the Atlanta metropolitan region has seen a large increase in its immigrant population, particularly in the city's northern suburbs situated in Gwinnett County around the famously multi-ethnic Buford Highway corridor. The suburbs of Norcross and Duluth have experienced a particularly large influx of immigrants from Asia and Central and South America. Once predominantly white bedroom communities, the cities' racial and ethnic make-up are now heavily defined by their Asian and Hispanic populations. Many residents and business owners are foreign-born or second-generation immigrants, and the number is growing. Despite this significant demographic shift, little attention has been paid to how multiculturalism fits into the planning process and how they are affected by local planning procedures and priorities. The cultural and linguistic divides found in Atlanta's continuously-diversifying social landscape remain largely unexplored and unaddressed in conventional planning practices. This research looks at demographic data and planning initiatives in Gwinnett County, and the cities of Duluth and Norcross in particular, to determine the extent that Asian and Hispanic populations are represented and involved in the planning process. An examination of public participation and community involvement in issues relating to land use, housing, and transportation is used to assess the degree of inclusion in planning and measure the extent to which increased cultural diversity is addressed in the region and in the two cities. I will argue that if the Asian and Hispanic populations are not engaged in planning processes and if their needs are not accounted for in city plans, there could be a resulting negative impact on those populations and the city in which they live.