A queer queer street? Reading Ottawa’s Le/The Village

Presented at: Queer Research Colloquium 2016, McGill University. Montreal QC.

Abstract: In 2011, “Ottawa’s main street” was officially recognized and rebranded as “The/Le Village”. Discretely marked by a few placards, rainbow stickers, and handful of LGBTQ services, the six blocks of “Le/The Village” is strangely integrated into the landscape of the urban business core. Queer geographies provide important perspectives on how the gay village has become a normalized typology while also disrupting norms and providing important spaces of difference. “The/Le Village” reveals the tension between the physical and symbolic need for spaces of belonging, and the mainstreaming—in this case mainstreeting—of marginalized identity through territorial delineations and visible markers. This paper interrogates histories and analyses of the “traditional gay village” through a reading of both the visible urban landscape and media narratives of “Le/The Village” and the ways in which it conforms and deviates from a queerly normative typology.

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SK8: Urban innovation and governance in the spatial and social design of skateparks

Presented at: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference 2016. San Francisco CA.

Abstract: April 2015: In Montreal, Mayor Denis Coderre legalizes skateboarding in Peace Park. In Ottawa, construction is finally underway on McNabb skatepark. As a means of transportation, recreation, athletic endeavour, and alternative community, skateboarding has a conflictual but undeniable relationship to the city. Though the current trend in city-sanctioned skateparks is often initiated through community grassroots organization, there is a strong reliance on city governance. Whether cities authorize skateparks through deregulation or funding purpose-built construction, the conventionally radical and outsider skate community becomes participant in official processes and control. Continue reading “SK8: Urban innovation and governance in the spatial and social design of skateparks”

Marginal Vernaculars and Place-Making Tactics

Presented at: Unsettling Heritage: Critical/Creative Conservation, Carleton Heritage Conservation Symposium 2015. Ottawa ON.

Abstract: In recent years, tactical urbanism has captured popular imagination. Its hands-on and bottom-up alternative practice of urban place-making encourages citizens to respond to their environment directly with ad hoc and relatively minimal or temporary transformations—often as a form of protest to the expected function or design of public space. This approach is set in direct contrast to the formally-driven design and future-oriented methodologies of the planning profession. Though framed as a form of ‘participatory urbanism’, it is important to note that tactical urbanism often operates around, rather than in direct collaboration with, official and authoritative professional structures of urban planning. Continue reading “Marginal Vernaculars and Place-Making Tactics”