The role of citizen participation and action research principles in Main Street revitalization: An analysis of a local planning project

This article examines the use of citizen participation techniques during the planning process for neighborhood revitalization in the Village of Depew which is an industrial suburb of Buffalo, New York. The article focuses on how action research principles can inform and enhance traditional approaches to citizen participation. In particular, we discuss our role as university-based consultants in the local planning process and how drawing from action research principles helped us remain focused on advocating for broad-based citizen participation. Our analysis was based on the application of action research principles and participant observation techniques. During the time that each of us was involved in the planning process for Depew’s neighborhood revitalization, reflexive field notes and other data were collected. The article critiques how citizen participation was used to plan for neighborhood revitalization in Depew, and discusses the degree to which action research principles can be applied to future citizen participation efforts.