Comparing Notes: Anti-Displacement Organizing from Little Jamaica to Chinatown
Written in collaboration with Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie.
Toronto’s Little Jamaica and Chinatown residents have been comparing notes. Two racialized neighbourhoods, beloved by our communities for the culturally specific retail and services they are home to, are both rapidly gentrifying. Both neighbourhoods have been heavily shaped by people who were targeted by racist Canadian immigration policies. Although these neighbourhoods are culturally significant to marginalized immigrant communities, neither yet have heritage or development protections. The gentrification pressures these communities face is the result of today’s transit and intensification-oriented planning policies.
We highlight the important role of urban planning in producing these processes of displacement, and the unique and important place of culturally significant retail as it relates to affordable housing. Both important features –affordable housing and culturally significant retail—are currently under threat in these racialized neighbourhoods. The lesson, from Little Jamaica to Chinatown, is that the protection of affordable rental housing is importantly intertwined with the preservation and expansion of affordable commercial spaces for small BIPOC-owned businesses. In these immigrant communities, where working class people continue to live and work, retail and housing needs should not be considered in silos.
Antidotes to White Supremacy in Planning
In the spring of 2019, I was sitting with a circle of friends, and Dr. Dara Kelly. We were learning about the Coast Salish economy and her work in its resurgence, her imaginations for its future. She said to us, “the first thing capitalism destroys is our imagination.” This big and simple statement set me off on a journey to regain our collective imagination. This essay is a reflection of a part of that journey, towards imagining an anti-colonial future for planning.
[This essay is currently under revision.]
image by Romila Barryman
cover art by Chris Carrarie
Community Power for Anti-Displacement: An Inclusive Future for Downtown Chinatown
Written with Zeina Ahmed, Thomas Kempster, Sanjida Rabbi, and Nick Vo.
This report was created in partnership with, and commissioned by, Friends of Chinatown Toronto to research and document the patterns of neighbourhood change, gentrification, and displacement within the Downtown Chinatown community. In recent years, the community has identified an urgent need to address the loss of affordable housing, culturally competent
businesses, and similar assets valued by the culturally unique community of Downtown Chinatown. The objective of this project is to gather sentiments about neighbourhood change in Downtown Chinatown and formalize them in a planning rationale
that advocates for increased Community Control. Using multiple research methods, with a particular focus on key informant interviews, we identified several key findings that serve this purpose.
Social Enterprise As Building Back Better: A Review of Community Contribution Companies
As calls to ‘build back better’ begin to formalize, social enterprise as an alternative economic model has drawn increasing attention. In British Columbia, specific models have yet to be identified by the province and municipalities towards “(Re)imagining Economic Recovery” under the indiscriminate category of social enterprise or community economic development broadly. We know relatively little regarding specific social enterprise models in British Columbia and what their track records are to-date. This report focuses on the Community Contribution Company (CCC) - a legal structure intended for the use of social enterprises introduced to British Columbia in 2013.
[Report available upon request]
image “what we are coming to” Grant E. Hamilton for Judge Magazine
image by chiyi tam
Social Solidarity Commons: Scaling Digital Mutual Aid
Written with Dylan Cohen, Emma Clayton Jones, Niall Harney.
Pandemics require diverse public responses to meet the staggering and diverse demand of community need. The
Mutual Aid phenomenon describes the broad mainstream development of thousands of hyper-local resource distribution groups created by volunteer who look after their neighbours without relying on third party intervention. The opportunity presented by millions volunteering in their community’s best
interests can be reproduced, accelerated, and developed with a tailored and scalable institutional response.