This chapter explores how three examples of my planning practice illuminate how John Friedmann’s social theory can inform participatory community development work. My approach to planning aligns with the social mobilization paradigm. To use Friedmann’s terminology, this is a conflict centered approach that challenges many of the collaborative themes of social learning (Friedmann 1987). Nonetheless, many elements of social learning theory have proven very useful in my practice. The social learning practice is rooted in community-based participatory

research. It envisions working with community-based organizations that seek to transform entrenched inequities built into social and economic systems. I frame work with these organizations in a conception of “planning as pedagogy,” using pragmatic, deliberative, and communitarian approaches, all of which are informed by (explicitly and implicitly) Friedmann’s social learning theory (Healey 2011). My clients are deeply grounded in a commitment to social movement activism for revolutionary structural change. They engage geographically and culturally defined communities in asset-based development, a practice that builds economic capacity through identification and nurturing of pre-existing community capabilities. This practice in turn requires the selfexpansion of community and organizational capacity in order to confront structural and political conditions that limit community well-being. These approaches combine with a methodology called empowerment evaluation (Fetterman 1996). This methodology resonates with key themes in Friedmann´s exploration of social learning as a methodology for positive social transformation and draws explicitly on Dewey as illuminated by Friedmann (1987). Empowerment evaluation uses community-based and participatory pro-

cesses to help organizations analyze their own practice and make data-driven adjustments to their programs. Central to the methodology are activities that bring to the surface the local knowledge of program and organization participants to understand, critique, and then transform their own practices. The community-based organizations all convene to advance racial, class, and

gender justice agendas. I have lent my assistance to organizations with methodologies that ensure the quality and rigor of community-generated knowledge to increase the likelihood of social justice outcomes from their work. So, despite my unease with social learning’s casting of social transformation

and empowerment as an essentially collaborative practice, I share Friedmann’s insistence on positive social transformation as a central function of planning practice, and I agree with him that incremental, place-based social movements can advance transformative goals. I also agree that life space and economic spaces are intimately related (Friedmann 1992). These require balanced attention in the development planning process, particularly as place-based movements seek to transform both neoliberal and Keynesian economic structures that undermine community self-determination and their capacity to empower themselves.