Towards Urban Revitalization for All: Reflections on Participatory Research, Action and Equity in Digitally Enabled Citizenship

Authors: Sara Edge*, Ryerson University, Rachel Singer, Ryerson University, Ekow Stone, Ryerson University, Emma Beattie, Ryerson University, Amber Grant, Ryerson University, Andrew Millward, Ryerson University
Topics: Urban Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Political Geography
Keywords: urban revitalization, equity, displacement, lived experience, PAR, digital citizenship
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cities are facing intensifying challenges related to population growth, economic volatility, increasing disparities and the revitalization of deteriorating urban centres. Urban renewal encompasses many colliding, transformative processes including investments in transit, housing, local businesses, greenspace, public and cultural spaces, social services, and smart technologies that are all thought to enhance life quality and well-being. However the benefits resulting from urban re-investments are unevenly and inequitably distributed across society and space with low-income and other marginalized groups facing mounting access barriers, exclusion, and/or displacement from their communities as the cost of living skyrockets. This presentation focuses on a participatory action research project that involves academic collaboration with a self-organized community group comprised of low-income, marginalized individuals with lived experience, peer advocates and service providers that are concerned about gentrification, inequalities and exclusion in Downtown Toronto (Canada’s most populated and diverse city). The findings will draw from community group conversations, in-depth interviews and reflexive participatory praxis. Specifically this presentation examines:

i. challenges and opportunities for enhancing the visibility and influence of marginalized populations in development decision-making
ii. strengths and limitations of participatory digital platforms in advancing equity-focused collective action, empowerment, and skills development
iii. associated ethical, normative and logistical challenges and opportunities

Drawing from the expertise of those with lived experience this presentation will offer recommendations for supporting equity focused collective intervention, strategies for supporting peer-led advocacy, and critical reflection on the prospects of fostering greater equity within digitally enabled citizenship and influence.

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