Astrid Idlewild

Very. Varied.

at the opening for Join Us EIR in the Park, 18 November 2016. Photo by Taleen Der Haroutounian.

Taleen Der Haroutounian

Astrid is an urbanist and historian. She’s produced critical works on what the public actually signifies in public spacing, on citizenships of being, and on legibility of place and manufacturing demand for securitized public realms by housing developers. Urban placeism and Black womanist principles enrich her values and advocacy for participatory citizenship, ethical place design, and equity in urban planning policy. There is a question which she, informed by her own structural exclusion, has yet to answer: is practitioner equity and diligence in city planning possible when a profession’s collective life experiences don’t resemble their city?

Astrid is a part of Toronto. She made Denizen.TO, a civic apparel shop for Toronto and Montréal. She specialized in urban design at McGill University, earning a master of urban planning in 2012 and an honours bachelor, with distinction, in urban and Canadian studies at the University of Toronto in 2009. Her inceptive research on illumination planning chronicled a history of artificial lighting at night and examined its qualitative impact on women’s public health, civic spaces, and fauna. She’s investigated ongoing interactions between conditional citizenships based on the means to consume, how this shaped queer enclaves during the past half-century, and the constraints of prescriptive vocations imposed on marginal populations confined to such enclaves. She developed the Kodachrome Toronto Registry in 2011, a finding aid to help account for Toronto’s history in colour. Under Rick Salutin’s supervision, Astrid drafted a comparative undergraduate thesis on Canadian content music policy.

Long before Jordan Peterson, Bill C–16, or Ontario’s Toby’s Act, she was the continent’s sole fore of a human rights paradigm shift which only now is more widely arriving to her lead. Punitive repercussions stemming from that legal precedent as a trans woman undermined her career momentum as it excluded her from participating in the responsibilities and, consequently, the rights of an everyday citizenship. As with the corporation which lodged her into civil justice history, she re-branded. Unlike the corporation, she has spent years working through complex post-trauma recovery and lives with chronic depression, now in remission.

A deejay and sound engineer, Astrid periodically moonlights as Five-to-Midnight at The Handlebar and sometimes cobbles together an occasional remix or mashup to pick up where her first remix EP started. She is committed to film as a photographer, marking her gallery début in 2016. Before academia, she gave her all to a career in marketing communications and publishing. Following five years as a Toronto bike messenger, she retired her radio in 2010.

Some say Astrid bears a fleeting resemblance to Meryl Streep, but that is just way, way off.


Published credits
  • 2016. Event DJing, #BechdelBill at TIFF, Toronto.
  • 2015–17. Venue DJing, The Handlebar, Toronto.
  • 2008–09. Event DJing, Velo Social at Augusta House, Toronto.
  • 2002. Venue DJing, The Chatterbox Pub, Minneapolis.
  • 2001–02. Venue DJing, Sursumcorda, Minneapolis.
  • 2001. Event DJing, May 26th, GLITZ, San Francisco.
  • 2001. Event DJing, February 7th, pre-show set for Low, Sacred Heart Music Center, Duluth.
  • 2001. Event DJing, January 1st, New Years Eve, Rogue Buddha Gallery, Minneapolis.
  • 2000–01. Event DJing, Kitty Kat Shack, St. Paul.
  • 1997. Radio host, WRUR-FM (University of Rochester), Rochester.
  • 1994. Radio host, KVRX-FM (University of Texas at Austin), Austin.
  • 1991. Modelling, Houston Bridal Extravaganza (George R. Brown Convention Center), Houston.
  • 2006–08. Tutorship, high school ESL for new Canadians, Project Universal Minds, University of Toronto
  • 2008–09. President, Urban Studies Student Union, University of Toronto
  • 2005–07. Board member, past executive, Campus Co-operative Residence, Inc., Toronto
  • 2006–07. Board member, Ontario Student Co-operative Association, Toronto
  • 2007–08. Internship, Common Grounds, Evergreen