psychograph
the story - tower renewal
psychograph
monday, november 8, 2010

01.this quite cold monday morning was still pleasant enough to ride my scooter to the university of toronto - hart house.

02.I was one of the participants in the tower neighbourhood renewal symposium, organized by U of T cities centre in partnership with mayor's tower renewal office. I was invited by the seneca side initiator of this project bill [william] humber. this is not my typical psychograph but I think that significance of this initiative from many different angles is justifying this inclusion.

03.we started this collaboration with my lecture "psychogeography, history and techniques", introduction to the project "toronto city of towers", initiative by toronto mayor david miller to revitalize 1000 residential towers in the city. lecture was for environmental site remediation students, future participants in the above mentioned project at seneca college in february 2009. as a result of this initial lecture four very significant psychogeographical portraits of tower neighbourhoods were produced.

04.towers in question were manly built between 1953 and 1970 and at that time they were very desirable place to live. there is a story that britain architect gordon stevenson and some others involved in a projest even lived for years in one of the first communities built at around intersection of lawrence and don mills road. today they are in very pure shape and in desperate need of repair in even more bad shape are communities with lot of social problems.

05.wast majority of presenters were very active in a search of solutions, mainly theoretically covering the problems from various angles, statistical, urban research, energy usage, few were having in mind needs of the locals engaging them in their research studies. city of toronto opened in january 2009 tower renewal office, university of toronto collaborated intensively with the project within its toronto cities centre. definitely lot of creative energy was invested and some results are staring to appear.

06.but something was bothering me. all of those projects are covering middle ground. both ends, bottom – where people and problems really are, and top – where decision making executive power lays.

missing is real understanding of the signs from the communities, their practical cultural, religious and social needs, imported with them when they immigrated and never really addressed or fulfilled. poverty is spreading and nobody with clear mind can expect to get full engagement of poor people if they do not have any financial or other material incentives.

similar problem but of course on the opposite end, is not addressed too. city, provincial or federal regulators are totally out of the picture and until their financial and basic democratic principals are engaged in solving this situation no fence between properties will be removed, and that is just the first step in the right direction. to me it all looked as if everybody is playing within set boundaries with the strong hope that some "power from above" will solve big issues.

07.good side of all of these initiatives is that it is adding to the pressure and until we request drastic change [scary word revolution!?] living conditions will not change. sincere answer to the basic question: "why do we do not want to live there" will be found and that will be a turning point. psychograph #02

08.there were two 100% positive measurable events today. #01 hart house the gothic-revival complex completed in 1919, work of architect henry sproatt, where this symposium was happening, is still standing, contributing to the savings of the energy invested in it over time. #02 me coming by scooter from my downtown apartment, saving at least 3 liters of gasoline! psychograph #03


a.j. [psychographs@urbansquares.com]


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:: created by urbansquares.com 2010 :: last time updated 25.11.2010 at 0:25:15 ::

psychograph #01
psychograph #02
few of the many towers along don mills road at the top and excelent example of renewal of the regent park neoghbourhood at the bottom.
psychograph #03