Inner-Suburban Neighbourhoods, Activist Research, and the Social Space of the Commercial Street
Keywords:creativity, inner suburbs, activism
This paper tracks the transition of “creative city” planning from the gentrified downtown to the disinvested inner-suburbs. It attends particularly to contradictory notions of community mobilized by proponents of inner-suburban revitalization and by residents and business owners who daily inhabit inner-suburban commercial streets where cultural planning interventions are typically targeted. It further argues that those contradictory notions indicate immanent displacement pressure. The argument builds around data gleaned from an action research project in Toronto’s Mount Dennis neighbourhood, a former manufacturing neighbourhood that is now home to a large number of precariously employed new immigrants. We contend that community engaged research not only allows for an analysis of the race and class dimensions of creative city planning, it consolidates marginalized perspectives and opens up alternative possibilities for planning and development. We also claim that the relational, exploratory and sometimes fraught process of sharing knowledge with community-based researchers enriches critical research on the exclusionary politics of redevelopment planning.
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