Ecological projects are often faced with reluctance from local communities hosting the project, especially when this project involves variation from preset ideas or classical practices. This paper aims at appreciating the contribution of environmental psychology through cognitive flexibility exercises to improve the acceptability of local communities in adopting more ecological rehabilitation scenarios. The study is based on a quarry site located in Bekaa- Lebanon. Four groups were considered with different levels of involvement, as follows: Group 1 is Training (T) – 50 hours of on-site training over 8 months, Group 2 is Awareness (A) – 2 hours of awareness raising session, Group 3 is Flexibility (F) – 2 hours of flexibility exercises and Group 4 is the Control (C). The results show that individuals in Group 3 (F) who followed flexibility sessions accept comparably the ecological rehabilitation option over the more classical one. This is also the case for the people in Group 1 (T) who followed a more time-demanding “on-site training”. Another experience was conducted on a second quarry site combining flexibility with awareness-raising. This research confirms that it is possible to reduce resistance to change thanks to a limited in-time intervention using cognitive flexibility. This methodological approach could be transferable to other environmental problems involving local communities and changes in preset perceptions.
In the situation of great acceleration of changes and the need for new developments in the cities on one hand and conservation and regeneration approaches on the other hand, place identity and its relation with heritage context have taken on new importance. This relation is generally mutual and complex one. The significant point in this relation is that the process of identifying something as heritage rather than just historical phenomena, brings that which may be inherited into the realm of identity. In planning and urban design as well as environmental psychology and phenomenology domain, place identity and its attributes and components were studied and discussed. However, the relation between physical environment (especially heritage) and identity has been neglected in the planning literature. This article aims to review the knowledge on this field and develop a model on the influence and relation of these two major concepts (heritage and identity). To build this conceptual model, we draw on available literature in environmental psychology as well as planning on place identity and heritage environment using a descriptive-analytical methodology to understand how they can inform the planning strategies and governance policies. A cross-disciplinary analysis is essential to understand the nature of place identity and heritage context and develop a more holistic model of their relationship in order to be employed in planning process and decision making. Moreover, this broader and more holistic perspective would enable both social scientists and planners to learn from one another’s expertise for a fuller understanding of community dynamics. The result indicates that a combination of these perspectives can provide a richer understanding—not only of how planning impacts our experience of place, but also how place identity can impact community planning and development.