By Donna Reid
Spring weather brings people outside – especially to our waterfront, parks, trails, gardens, soccer pitches and pools. I’m sure you’re aware that public space is created, funded (with taxes) and managed by the city. It’s part of city planning. And that is led by our civic leaders and implemented by well trained staff and cherished by the people who make use of these resources.
Did you ever stop to think about the process a city goes through to create a park, garden or gathering place for its citizens? How is use determined? And by what criteria is it evaluated. Who will use it? As the space ages, does it still work? As the demographic of a neighbourhood changes does the space evolve too or become redundant? What’s there now and how is it being used?
A few weeks ago friends and I viewed Citizen Jane at the Westdale Theatre. This is a documentary about Jane Jacobs, a woman who effected change in her New York City neighbourhood. She and fellow residents were galvanized when a city planned and approved freeway would destroy a public park in their Washington Square neighbourhood. This was a place of recreation and congregation for local families and children. She and the team of residents – wealthy with energy, creativity, enthusiasm and dedication took on NYC politicians and decision makers. The “parkway” was never built.
So if more women could influence city planning, would our cities look (and function) differently? Two of the City of Hamilton’s goals are to be “the best place to raise a child” and the recently added “best place to age successfully.” Raising kids and getting old are not the exclusive territory of women but it’s interesting to learn cities around the globe are using a gender lense to gain insight into creating cities that are safe and functional for all. They’re asking new questions.
In June the Useful Knowledge Society of Hamilton hosted a panel discussion entitled Women and the City. If you missed it here’s a link to the evening’s discussion courtesy of The Public Record:
Let’s keep this conversation going. You may also follow the Useful Knowledge Society of Hamilton on Facebook for interesting articles and conversation about this and other topics.
Have a great summer everyone! Love your city, celebrate your neighbourhood and get involved!