Message from CITY Director Linda Peake

Dear City Institute members,

Another academic year is upon us and I have been tardy in sending out a message. At the same time I wanted to wait until the Executive had voted on the new governance document for The City Institute as it sets us upon a somewhat new path in terms of organizing our activities and ourselves. Given that support for the new governance model was unanimous let me say a little bit about it.

We are keeping our Executive, External Advisory Board and (Internal) Board as is, although membership is changing. We have said goodbye (and thank you!) to Lionel Feldman and David Buchbinder on the External Advisory Board and welcomed Prabha Khosla. Prabha is Director of Programs for the International City Leaders Foundation, based in Toronto, and she has extensive experience working for UN –Habitat and Women in Cities International as a gender consultant in the global urban south. Our other members of the external board are: John Cartwright (Toronto Labour Council), Ian Chodikoff (Director, Fora Strategic Planning Inc.), Glenn Miller (Canadian Urban Institute) and Muliwa Mwarigha (Director, Housing Operations & Management Services, Region of Peel).

We are adding three new committees. This year we will introduce a Student Caucus for graduate and undergraduate students and in 2015 we will add a Research Committee and a Fundraising Committee (volunteers extremely welcome). Perhaps most importantly we are also adding a Council of Affiliates. This constitutes all members of City (it you are on this listserv you are probably a member) and will be the ultimate decision-making authority for the Institute, its power being exercised at an Annual Meeting, which we will arrange for April each year. All members (we have a number of categories – staff, faculty, external, graduates, undergraduates and visiting scholars) are eligible to attend and we will be encouraging you to do so. We are also increasing our staff complement and are adding two new staff members to help with our major research project on Global Suburbanisms (led by Professor Roger Keil) and with CITY activities.

We have also created two other policy documents for the City Institute – on conflict resolution and on space allocation. Our move to a new suite of offices over the summer has doubled our capacity to house graduates, post-docs and visiting fellows so we thought it was time to make sure we had some rules and regulations in place to ensure everyone knew their rights and responsibilities in relation to our new home. And on Thursday October 23rd we will be opening up the City Institute to everyone in our annual Meet and Greet (from 5-6pm). Put the date in your diary and come along and find out more about us.

As usual we have a busy schedule for the year. We have a number of public speakers both academic and policy based; still to come this semester a talk by Marcy Birchfield from the Neptis Foundation, a talk by Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s chief planner (co-sponsored with the Geography Department) and engagement in a week of visiting feminist urban scholars, jointly organized the Department of Political Science, which includes two visiting professors, Faranak Miraftab from the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, and Nazgol Bagheri from the university of Tezas – San Antonio. Again, all are welcome and we will be posting details closer to the dates.

Another event we are planning that will start on Friday 28th November is a reading group that we are organizing jointly with colleagues at the University of Toronto involving a critical engagement with the topic of “planetary urbanism” (this is the idea that the urban can no longer be defined in relation to settlement types, such as the ‘city’, but rather is better understood as a world-wide condition that blankets the earth). Put forward by the scholars Neil Brenner and Christian Schmidt, it is capturing the imagination of a number of urban scholars. We plan to engage in some ‘slow scholarship’ on this topic and have four readings groups, one each semester over 2 years, after which we will hold a two day workshop which both Neil and Christian will also attend. We have over 50 faculty and graduates signed up so we are hoping for some lively and engaging sessions with this vexed concept.

Spearheaded by a CITY post-doc, Roza Tchoukaleyska, we are also planning a two day workshop on training for graduates engaged in critical urban research, open to those at York and beyond. More information will be forthcoming next semester. Finally, I am writing research grants to further develop our research profile. So the Fall finds us as busy as usual, ‘following the money’, building community. Come and join us, you are most welcome.

Linda Peake

Director, the City Institute