Last week, I started curating a list on Twitter called UrbanistasTO for assembling of the many bright minds I run into around Toronto (and for the great conversations we enjoy having). If nothing else, this is a list very much worth following for the broad variety of experiences each of us is openly sharing — ranging from participatory citizens to active transportation advocates to urban planners to city councillors.
I’m launching UrbanistasTO after lamenting how infrequently our urbanist discussions — whatever the topic — are being steered by pluralities of women, persons of colour, and gender & sexual minorities. These intersectional experiences have no diminished a stake in the welfare of how Toronto is shaped, inhabited, remembered, and made safer.
Unfortunately, our intersectional input gets heard less frequently or — in more strained cases — dismissed or patronized aggressively by those who find themselves threatened by our emergence as a diversified, broader, and experienced population. When intersectionality is, at best, pasted to the end of a conversation or, at worst, disregarded, it means we’re treating Toronto as a conversation which isn’t welcome for everyone who is a part of it.
Every other month, starting Tuesday, December 18th at 6:45p at 7 West Café (on 7 Charles Street West, between Yonge and Bay, just south of Bloor), UrbanistasTO is inviting our varied voices to share in highly informal, casual, but lively conversations about the civic spaces we use, inhabit, and affirm as public goods and services (as well as the design and perceptions we have of those spaces). [EDIT: Each subsequent UrbanistasTO will meet in different parts of the city, meaning, well, even harder-to-reach parts which may be unfamiliar to some.]
Inspired by emerging civic work groups like WiTOpoli, UrbanistasTO begins an opportunity for us to mingle across tables and to get to know one another even better, bridging together our intersectional experiences through better listening and understanding.
Future UrbanistasTO conversations can and should happen across this city, not just centrally. My hope is to host these bi-monthly evening conversations in different locations across Toronto to get more of us involved in these discussions.
I’ve chosen to do this as an urban feminist, as a denizen, and, now, as a civic planner. If there’s something I’ve already learnt in my short time around the planning profession, it’s that this isn’t 1962 or 1987 — even though there continues to be quite a few who remain inclined to act otherwise.
I can’t wait to see all of you there!