A Storytelling Planning Process to Transform Environmental Values into Sustainable Cities and Sustainable Behaviours

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Environmental Planning, Management and Education, School of Environment, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran Iran


The concept of sustainability inspired most urban development plans after Rio 1992, although many such plans have not been too successful. An important reason for this is the disjuncture of science from culture and traditional knowledge and planners’ inability to conceptualize the environmental values of societies.This research aims to explore storytelling’s ability to aid in identifying of environmental values of communities and the ways they are developed through their traditional knowledge. Furthermore, it integrates the subjective and normative nature of storytelling with the objective and rational procedure of the planning process. To achieve this aim, the cultural pathways of storytelling for practice on cities within a narrative context are investigated, along with critical naturalistic discourse analysis, which corresponds with the primary levels of a profound planning process. An analysis of the conceptual commonalities and contrasts found in these approaches suggests that the intrinsic social features of storytelling can fill the normative gaps in the rational planning procedure to create a storytelling planning process. This approach is suggested as a general framework to forge a common language among people and planners’ interventions into local environments based on community environmental values, especially in traditional cities.


  1. Ardebili, M. R., & Naseri, T. S. (2016). The Role of Social Capital in The Conservation of Historical Buildings. Space Ontology International Journal , 5(2), 31-41.
  2. Arida, A. (1998). Quantum environments: Urban design in the post Cartesian paradigm. Retrieved from http://rudi.herts.ac.uk/rudiments/quantum.htm1
  3. Arkaraprasertkul, N. (2012). Moral Global Storytelling: Reflections on Place and Space in Shanghai's UrbanNeighborhoods . Storytelling, Self, Society , 8. (3, Special Issue: Global Storytelling(SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2012)), 167-179. doi: 10.1080/15505340.2012.711126
  4. Barthes, R. (1977). Image music text. London: Fontana Press.
  5. Bell, S., & Morse, S. (2007). Story telling in sustainable development projects. Sustainable Development, 15, 97–110. doi:10.1002/sd.305
  6. Berke, P., Godschalk, D., Kaiser, E., & Rodriguez, D. (2006). Urban land use planning (5th ed.). Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
  7. Berkes, F. (2012). Sacred ecology (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
  8. Boeve, P. J., & Van Petegem, P. (2011). A cross-cultural study of environmental values and their effect on the environmental behavior of children. Environment and Behavior, 45, 551–583. doi:10.1177/0013916511429819
  9. Brand, P., & Thomas, M. (2005). Urban environmentalism: Global change and the mediation of local conflict. London: Routledge.
  10. Bulkens, M., Minca, C., & Muzaini, H. (2015). Storytelling as method in spatial planning. European Planning Studies, 23, 2310–2326. doi:10.1080/09654313.2014.942600
  11. Cameron, E. (2012). New geographies of story and storytelling. Progress in Human Geography, 36, 573–592. doi:10.1177/0309132511435000
  12. Cilliers, E. J., Timmermans, W., van den Goorbergh, F., & Slijkhuis, J. S. (2015). Designing public spaces through the lively planning integrative perspective. Environment, Development and Sustainability , 17 (6), 1367–1380. doi: 10.1007/s10668-014-9610-1
  13. Curthoys, L., Cuthbertson, B., & Clark, J. (2012). Community story circles: An opportunity to rethink the epistemological approach to heritage interpretive planning. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 17, 173–187. https://cjee-lakeheadu-ca.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/article/view/1105
  14. Davidoff, P., & Reiner, T. A. (1962). A choice theory of planning. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 28, 103–115. doi: 10.1080/01944366208979427
  15. Davoudi, S. (2000). Sustainability: A new vision for the British planning system. Planning Perspectives, 15, 123–137. doi:10.1080/026654300364056
  16. De Neufville, J. I., & Barton, S. E. (1987). Myths and the definition of policy problems: An exploration of home ownership and public-private partnerships. Policy Sciences, 20, 181–206. doi:10.1007/BF00156584
  17. Dobrucká, L. (2014). Reframing planning theory in terms of five categories of questions. Planning Theory, 15, 145–161. doi:10.1177/1473095214525392
  18. Faryadi, S. (2004a). Sustainable urban design principles and rules for the cities of Iran in the process of globalization (with emphasis in biological needs). Environmental Studies, 30, 29–45. Retrieved from http://en.journals.sid.ir/ViewPaper.aspx?ID=5152
  19. Faryadi, S. (2004b). A methodology for participatory local environmental planning. Journal of Environmental Studies, 31, 14–29. Retrieved from https://jes.ut.ac.ir/article_10100_188f10a66d8a5c1844aebf87979e075f.pdf
  20. Faryadi, S. (2008). Urban representation of multiculturalism in a global city: Toronto’s Iranian community. Hamilton, ON: Institute on Globalization and Human Condition, McMaster University. Retrieved from https://socialsciences.mcmaster.ca/institute-on-globalization-and-the-human-condition/documents/IGHC-WPS_08-4_Faryadi.pdf
  21. Faryadi, S., & Redaie, M. (2018). Applying storytelling as a communicative planning tool for understanding and interpretation of environmental values - Yazd province, Iran. Journal of Environmental researches, in print (in Persian).
  22. Filep, C. V., Thompson-Fawcett, M., & Rae, M. (2014). Built narratives. Journal of Urban Design, 19, 298–316. doi:10.1080/13574809.2014.890043
  23. Forester, J. (2012). Learning to improve practice: Lessons from practice stories and practitioners’ own discourse analyses (or why only the loons show up). Planning Theory & Practice, 13, 11–26. doi:10.1080/14649357.2012.649905
  24. Forman, T. (2008). Urban regions, ecology and planning beyond the city. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  25. Friedmann, J. (1987). Planning in the public domain: From knowledge to action. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  26. Friedmann, J. (2008). The uses of planning theory: A bibliographic essay. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 28, 247–257. doi:10.1177/0739456x08325220
  27. Ganley, B. (2010). Re-Weaving the Community, Creating the Future. Storytelling at the Heart and Soul of Healthy Communities. Orton Family Foundation. https://www.orton.org/sites/default/files/resource/1611/Storytelling_Whitepaper_hotlinked.pdf
  28. Gunder, M. (2006). Sustainability: Planning’s saving grace or road to perdition? Journal of Planning Education and Research, 26, 208–221. doi:10.1177/0739456x06289359
  29. Herman, R. D. K. (2016). Traditional knowledge in a time of crisis: Climate change, culture and communication. Sustainability Science, 11, 163–176. doi:10.1007/s11625-015-0305-9
  30. Hulst, M. (2012). Storytelling, a model of and a model for planning. Planning Theory, 11, 299–318. doi:10.1177/1473095212440425
  31. Innes, J. E. (1995). Planning theory's emerging paradigm: Communicative action and interactive practice. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 14, 183–189. doi:10.1177/0739456x9501400307
  32. James, S. P. (2016). The trouble with environmental values. Environmental Values, 25, 131–144. doi:10.3197/096327116x14552114338747
  33. Kent, M. L. (2015). The power of storytelling in public relations: Introducing the 20 master plots. Public Relations Review, 41, 480–489. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.05.011
  34. Kimmerer, R. W. (2012). Searching for synergy: Integrating traditional and scientific ecological knowledge in environmental science education. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 2, 317–323. doi:10.1007/s13412-012-0091-y
  35. Lein, K. J. (2003). Integrated environmental planning. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  36. Macias, T., & Williams, K. (2016). Know your neighbors, save the planet: Social capital and the widening wedge of pro-environmental outcomes. Environment and Behavior, 48, 391–420. doi:10.1177/0013916514540458
  37. Macnaghten, P., & Urry, J. (1998). Contested natures. London: Sage.
  38. Mandelbaum, S. J. (1991). Telling stories. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 10, 209–214. doi:10.1177/0739456x9101000308
  39. McGuire, N. M. (2015). Environmental education and behavioral change: An identity-based environmental education model. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 10, 695–715. doi:10.12973/ijese.2015.261a
  40. Opdam, P., Nassaue, J. I., Wang, Z., Albert, C., Bentrup, G., Castella, J.-C., et al. (2013). Science for action at the local landscape scale. Landscape Ecol (28), 1439–1445. doi:10.1007/s10980-013-9925-6
  41. Pelzer, P., Geertman, S., & van der Heijden, R. (2015). Knowledge in communicative planning practice: A different perspective for planning support systems. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 42, 638–651. doi:10.1068/b130040p
  42. Rees, W. (1999). Scale, complexity and the conundrum of sustainability. In M. Kenny & J. Keadowcroft (Eds.), Planning sustainability (pp. 101–127). London and New York: Routledge.
  43. Rockeach, M. (1968). Beliefs, attitudes and values. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  44. Sandercock, L. (2003). Cosmopolis II. London: Continuum.
  45. Schlosberg, D., & Coles, R. (2016). The new environmentalism of everyday life: Sustainability, material flows and movements. Contemporary Political Theory, 15, 160–181. doi:10.1057/cpt.2015.34
  46. Selman, P. (2000). Environmental planning (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
  47. Managing Water Resources of Iran Company and the International Center of Ghanat and Historical Water Buildings.
  48. Semsar, Y. A. (2010). Formulation of Expert's Experiences of Ghanaat. Tehran, Iran: Managing Water Resources of Iran Compony and the International Center of Ghanat and Historical Water Buildings(In Persian).
  49. Shariatzadeh, A. (1992). Yazd Windcathers and the Method of Building them,. In A. Shariatzadeh, Yazd Nameh. Tehran: Culture of Iran landscape(In Persian).
  50. Steele, W. (2011). Strategy-making for sustainability: An institutional learning approach to transformative planning practice. Planning Theory & Practice, 12, 205–221. doi:10.1080/14649357.2011.580158
  51. Steiner, F. (2014). Frontiers in urban ecological design and planning research. landscape and urban planning (123), 304-311. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.01.023
  52. Stern, C. P., Dietz, T., & Guagnano, G. A. (1995). The new environmental paradigm in social psychological perspective. Environment and Behavior, 27, 723–745. doi:10.1177/0013916595276001
  53. Throgmorton, J. A. (2003). Planning as persuasive storytelling in a global-scale web of relationships. Planning Theory, 2, 125–151. doi: 10.1177/14730952030022003
  54. Vickers, S. G. (1968). Value systems and social process. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  55. Wheeler, S., & Beatly, T. (Eds.). (2004). The sustainable urban development reader. London and New York: Routledge.
  56. Wittkower, R. (1977). Allegory and the migration of symbols. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson.