PLANNING AS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL CHANGE
Water Resources Development and the Process of Change: The relationship between a public work and social change is one of both cause and effect. In the past, water development was considered to represent the effect of social and economic change rather than its cause. Viewed in this light, the water supply, flood control, and navigation projects can validly be considered the effect of such social forces as an expanding population, and the need for water for municipal, industrial, trade, and recreation, and changes in economic conditions which attract people to different areas. Accepting water development as an effect of these forces, planning has been concerned basically with existing or anticipated needs.
The other view is that water development is an instrument of social policy since it can serve to stimulate economic and social change. Community response to this stimulus will of course depend on the capacity, ability, and desire to change which exists in the areas to be served and on the planned use of the water resources. This places a significant responsibility on communities and state agencies to determine those changes deemed desirable in the community and those that are not, and the possibilities, if any, for stimulating or preventing them through the location and design or deference of water resources projects.
A Descriptive Model of Planning: Just as with the physical problems of engineering, if engineers are to successfully plan public works involving social change, they need models which describe this process. Such models should define the functions of the planning process, and the range of choices open to planners in deciding the means by which to approach planning problems. This includes the types of decisions which are made, the process by which planned change occurs, and the relationships of the participants in the planning process. With such understandings, the planner can operate more effectively in his role as an agent of change. He can focus not just on the end product of planning, but on how to structure the planning process in order to produce a product which achieves a more widely accepted solution to the wants and needs of society.
Engineering of Planned Change: The basic purpose of engineering planning is controlling and guiding the changes made in man's environment kinds of change processes which might occur within our political and economic structure.
The approach to water resource development may be either planned or technocratic change since it entails intentional goal setting which may or may not be mutual. In the past our approach has been primarily technocratic. However, if "planning" in its broadest sense is to be a reality, intentional mutual goal setting through public participation is required.
Development of the Need for Change: It is helpful to classify the participants in the change process into two interacting parties, the change agentand the client system (Lippitt, et al., 1958). In this relationship the change agent is seeking change or helping it occur, and the client system consists of those being helped. In the context of water resources planning, the responsible planning agency practically always emerges in the role of change agent. However, in the community structure it is possible for different interests to assume the roles of both change agent as an active promoter of resource development, and the client system as one who is affected by the change. In other instances, the community groups may act solely in the role of client system. One of the important tasks for the planner is to identify the interest groups in the community and the roles which they may assume in the planning process.
A process of planned change typically begins with problem awareness. This is translated into a need and desire to change. In the relationship between the planner and the community, problem awareness should revolve around water resource problems and needs as part of overall community planning. The development of need may come from:
1. The Agency Planner: The planner, acting as change agent, finds certain difficulties in the basin system such as flooding, pollution, water shortages, or significant changes in land use or recreation patterns, and offers help or takes steps to stimulate the community to an awareness of the problem.
2. The Community: The community becomes aware of difficulties and seeks help. Local desires should be a significant factor in the decision to undertake planning studies. These are usually expressed in the form of resolutions from city and county government bodies, or requests of state legislators, ultimately leading to congressional resolutions.
3. A Third Party: An industry considering location in the community or a consulting engineer working on a problem may suggest the need for water resources studies. Many problems in planning may be due to the failure of the planner and the community to agree on the need for a study. For example, if the planner attempts to convince the community of the need, the community must assess the validity of the diagnosis and the urgency of the proposed studies. If the community suggests the need, then the planner must assess the extent of the community's desire for the study. In cases where the agency proceeds with a study unilaterally, as when operating solely on the basis of a congressional directive and a rigid program of planning and construction, then the community is likely to be unresponsive. If both agree on the need, then a viable change relationship can be established; otherwise, there could be conflict from the outset.