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Social Sustainability, Diversity and Public Space in Three Canadian Cities

Researchers:
Prof. Barbara Rahder, Prof. Ranu Basu, Prof. Liette Gilbert, Prof. Susan McGrath, Prof. Patricia Wood

Public spaces and institutions are often understood within North American democracies as the means by which difference is negotiated. These are the places where diverse individuals and communities meet and mix with one another – where concepts of social justice and collective well-being are defined and re-defined over time. Consequently, access to and perceptions of these public spaces are critical to our collective notions of Canada as an equitable and sustainable democracy. How well are urban public spaces actually meeting the needs of diverse communities in Canada? How could planning for social sustainability and diversity help to make these spaces better meet the needs of a diverse urban populace? Research on marginalized communities has often been criticized for perpetuating marginalization and unequal power relationships. Instead of doing research on these communities, research needs to be done with these communities to answer the above questions. This project involves diverse, low-income communities in three Canadian cities – Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary – in exploring their experiences and perceptions of public space, mapping the opportunities and barriers they encounter within the city, and articulating what needs to change in order to promote a more sustainable and equitable urban future. This participatory form of research is aimed at building collaborative, reciprocal, and empowering relationships across socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and gender differences, rather than reproducing the hierarchical one-way relationships traditionally associated with social science research and knowledge production.

Presentations

Knowing Your Place: Gender & Justice in the Work of Social Sustainability
Barbara Rahder
40th annual Urban Affairs Association Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 2010

In Search of Nimmathi? Imagining, Building and Negotiating Spaces of Peace and Community in Toronto’s Diverse Neighbourhoods
Ranu Basu
40th annual Urban Affairs Association Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 2010

Social Sustainability and Citizenship in the In-Between City
Tricia Wood
40th annual Urban Affairs Association Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 2010

Governmentalities of Accommodation and Tolerance in Montreal
Liette Gilbert, Leela Viswanathan and Parastou Saberi
40th annual Urban Affairs Association Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 2010

Safe Havens?  The Role of Settlement Agencies in Sustaining Newcomers in Urban Centres
Susan McGrath
40th annual Urban Affairs Association Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 2010

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