There’s a lot of chatter about aging infrastructure in big cities and multiple programs and initiatives are trying to get ahead of crumbling concrete. But what about the social infrastructure and the human beings that live in and around the built environment?
On a recent Jane’s Walkshop with former Toronto mayor, John Sewell he repeatedly referred to urban renewal as a bad thing, when I had always regarded renewal in a positive light. Having only lived in Toronto for 10 years, I didn’t know the negative connotations associated with older revitalisation projects. So it must be for other recent immigrants to our cities. Language can disguise assumptions, confuse understanding or shed light. When we talk about revitalisation, the language we choose to use is just the beginning.
What does it mean when we earmark a particular area for revitalisation? Who do we talk to? Whose opinions are valued? With what authority? And if things are going wrong, how can we correct mid-stream? After all, revitalisation costs a lot of money and often much heartache and/or hope; it’s better to see the symptoms of misdirection and see what can be done to get back on course.
A possible outcome of our discussion could be the design of a new public collaboration process, rather than public consultations that may be well-intentioned, but often miss the voices of the most vulnerable. Renewal, Revitalisation and Resilience is about what revitalisation means, to whom, for whom and how we can create thriving communities in our urban environments.
Bring your passion and your experience. I'll have paper, markers and such to write on. We'll also provide a light evening meal so you don't have to rush to eat before arrival.
In the meantime, think about what it would feel like and look like to see your neighbourhood marked for revitalisation. What contribution would you like to make to that process?