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from one HIGHRISE to another

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We at HIGHRISE just screened our documentary One Millionth Tower outdoors, at a festival celebrating another highrise neighbourhood. In One Millionth Tower, highrise residents re-imagine their neighbourhood by working with architects to illustrate what’s possible in the bleak space around their buildings.

Four residents from this HIGHRISE project crossed from west-side Etobicoke, over Toronto, to the east-side suburb of Scarborough and presented at the 3rd annual Bridging Festival. It’s called that, because in its first two years, the festival was held under a local bridge that divides the community.

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“The original concept of the festival three years ago was to reconnect the community, as people felt uncomfortable crossing the bridge,” explains Tim Whalley, Executive Director of Scarborough Arts, “The idea of the festival was to turn the bridge, which was considered a barrier, back into a bridge.”

This year, the festival moved to the nearby The Scarborough Storefront, possibly one of the most remarkable community organizations I have ever known.

You might remember the Scarborough Storefront, which I visited at the very beginning of our HIGHRISE project, and featured in our Prologue. The Storefront is a collection of agencies organized in a “hub” model:  they share space, staffing and administration to bring in as many opportunities as possible under one roof to a severely service-deprived neighbourhood. It’s located in a former police station.

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It’s only 1 kilometre away from a last month’s tragic shooting, which killed 2 people and injured 20.

“The Storefront has now become a hub for discussion how to heal from those events,” said Whalley.

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Our One Millionth Tower screening was held in the parking lot of The Storefront, with a highrise towering over us.

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The One Millionth Tower residents Ob, Faith (with her daughter Tashana), Jamal and Priti had a picnic lunch in the Storefront’s community garden before the screening.

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Jamal rehearsed in the garden before going on stage with his sax. His stagename, btw, is J-Smooth.

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Priti admired the pumpkins growing on the fence.

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J-Smooth inspired the crowd with his musical improvisations.

After the screening, we talked with some of the local residents, many of whom live in the highrise directly behind the Storefront.

Zena, from the 11th floor, said she could imagine many of the ideas in the film  in her own neighbourhood.

“I recognize Etobicoke in the film right away,” said Slim, from the 10th floor, “because we used to live there. These two areas are similar, because Etobicoke has many people from India, and here its Sri Lankan. But over there, its full of nature. I used to see deer, rabbits, snakes, fish and birds. Here I see only raccoons.”

Both Zena and Slim come to the Storefront regularly to use the internet. Until this weekend, they had to walk all the way around an entire block, because of a fence between their highrise and the community centre, even though the two buildings back directly onto one another.

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But from now on, the buildings and people are more connected: this year’s Bridging Festival featured a ceremonial “fence tear down” – the fence between the buildings has been removed.

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Not surprisingly, Graeme Stewart, the Tower Renewal architect involved in HIGHRISE and One Millionth Tower, is involved in this project!

At the end of the evening, Marcia,  who lives in another highrise down the street, approached the One Millionth Tower residents and told Faith that she was considering  moving out of the neighbourhood because of the recent violence.

“We need to come together and share and learn from one another,” said Faith.

“Power comes in numbers,” Marcia agreed, and concluded by saying she wouldn’t leave the neighbourhood for one main reason: the Scarborough Storefront.

GIRLS LEARNING CODE at HIGHRISE

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It’s the Next-Gen participatory media project at HIGHRISE: girls learning computer code. They’re building websites and telling their own stories. It’s future web-developers in the making, on site at the Kipling Highrise in suburban Toronto.

“It’s so easy to learn code!” exclaims Janever, 10, as she learns how to change the picture and background colour on her website.

It wasn’t so easy, though,  to convince parents to let the girls come to the pilot workshop in the first place. When Heather Frise, HIGHRISE Community Media Coordinator, set out to find girls to sign up, the kids in the lobby were super enthusiastic. But when she went up to their apartment doors to speak with their families, the parents were reticent. Many speak little English, many are very new to Canada, some even asked why the workshop wasn’t for boys. The stereotype that computer coding is reserved for boys is as pervasive here as anywhere else .

[Listen to a CBC radio feature about our workshop today on “Here and Now” between 3-6 pm EDT here]

The 13 girls and their families are mostly recent immigrants, from Nigeria, Pakistan, Jamaica, Somalia and Iraq. Two girls have only been here a month; they’ve just arrived from Iraqi refugee camps in Syria. Their friends help to translate, and they soaked it all in.

The workshop is lead by a young woman, Heather Payne of  a non-profit called Girls Learning Code. I met Heather through the Mozilla Foundation, who has hired her and others like her to build a new generation of webmakers around the planet. This summer, they’re encouraging people around the world to run Kitchen Code Parties of their own. We thought it would be great to do so at the HIGHRISE highrise too, where we’ve worked with adults for almost 3 years now with such participatory photography an storytelling projects such as One Millionth Tower.

We also knew we needed to work with the youth at this building when our Digital Citizenship Survey showed us last year that a whopping 50% of the population at this highrise is under 20 years of age. That’s a lot of kids with not much to do all summer long.

“We know that if we advertise the workshop for both boys and girls,” Heather explains to me, “Only boys will show up. So making the group open only for girls ensures girls make it to the keyboard.”

“I was so excited to hear about this workshop,” says one girl, “Because all we do all summer long is stay in our apartment and clean.” The needs of the kids are high, and so few services exist in highrise neighbourhoods such as this.

“I really do see a difference here from the workshops we’ve run downtown,” notes Heather Payne, on a quick break from teaching HTML, CSS and Python to the girls. “There are so many obstacles in just getting to this neighbourhood. Getting up here takes over an hour, bringing the equipment, and then the girls have their own obstacles too: language barriers, cultural barriers, lack of access to computers, and just being so new to so many of the things we teach in this workshop.”

She adds though, that their enthusiasm is the same. “Everyone loves learning how to make a website!”

Several of the girls from this highrise will join Heather’s team and 40 other girls downtown later this summer for a whole week of coding summer camp, thanks to scholarships offered by Girls Learning Code, and Mozilla.

Heather and her team of volunteer instructors at Girls Learning Code are aiming to change the face and culture of future webmakers, so often engendered as a boy’s club. The stereotypical image of young men, hunched over laptops hacking away in darkened rooms, playing video games continues to dominate the cultural understanding of webmaking. It’s a big battle. The rate of women in computing in Canada has actually gone down.  In the last ten years, the share of women in high-tech jobs, including software development and electrical engineering, has dropped from 25.6% to 23.9%, according to a FINS.com analysis of Labor Department data.

Teaching kids to code is not just about of training a new professional sector of technology workers, as important as that is. Coding is becoming a “fourth literacy” – a basic skill set we all need to be active and engaged citizens in a digital age. “HTML” has become the “ABCs, 123s” of the 21st century.

That’s why HIGHRISE will continue learning more from the youth about Digital Citizenship here in Toronto and other sites in the world.  Together with our academic partner Dr Deborah Cowen,  we’re thrilled to announce that HIGHRISE is the recipient of an academic grant to continue our work on understanding the invisible digital lives of highrise residents around the world.

And there lot’s more exciting news to come as HIGHRISE heats up again in 2012!

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Thanks to Action for Neighbourhood Change-Rexdale, Microskills, United Way, Albion Boys and Girls Club, and Mozilla Foundation for their support on this project get girls at Kipling to code.

LIVE RADIO BROADCAST: ONE MILLION LISTENERS

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Toronto’s most popular radio program, CBC Radio Metro Morning, is “going HIGHRISE.”

They’ll be broadcasting live from the site of the NFB HIGHRISE project, a Toronto apartment building, where we’ve been working for the last 3 years. On Wednesday, February 15, one million listeners will tune in to hear host Matt Galloway, in conversation with many diverse voices from inside this suburban vertical community. The remote studio will be set up in the ANC meeting room in which many of the NFB HIGHRISE projects were born (including our latest doc, One Millionth Tower).

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Yesterday, Matt got his first taste when he visited with some of the residents. Jamal, his mom Faith, Priti, Rita and Najiba all welcomed the consummate (on-air) host in their homes, with a live sax performance, Chinese fortune cookies, Iraqi pizza + pastries, Turkish coffee, along with moving stories of arrival, adaptation and building new communities.

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When Matt asked Priti what she would like to say to the rest of Toronto, she replied, “You should be jealous of the great neighbourhood we have here.”

HIGHRISE is acting as a springboard for the CBC to access the building, and to engage with residents and community leaders. Audiences will hear their life stories and about the challenges they face in the building – realities that are no doubt reflective of Toronto’s many other residential towers. HIGHRISE director, Katerina Cizek and University of Toronto professor Deborah Cowen will also join in, to give a sneak peak into upcoming HIGHRISE work, the Digital Citizenship in the Global Suburbs Project.

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From the CBC.ca website:
On Wednesday, February 15, we’re packing up the Metro Morning microphones and taking the show on the road. We’ll be broadcasting live from Rexdale, from one of the many concrete highrises along Kipling Avenue, north of Finch. It’s the same building where the NFB has done so much great work in their ongoing series – Highrise. This building is one of more than a thousand rental towers across Toronto’s urban suburbs. They went up in 1950s and 60s, complete with swimming pools and tennis courts, built to attract swinging singles. Now the structures have reached middle age, and are a little worse for wear. But they are home to tens of thousands of newcomers who can’t afford to live anywhere else. Next week – we’ll meet some of them and hear their stories. Building Community: Life in a Rexdale Highrise, next Wednesday on Metro Morning.

Also featured here.

The show airs live 5:30-8:30am ET; it streams live at http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/ and segments are posted online later in the day. The CBC website will also feature a photo slideshow with audio.

First photo of Priti being interviewed by Matt by Dwight Friesen, for CBC.
All other pix by Kat.

ONE MILLION COMMUTERS

Our HIGHRISE documentary, One Millionth Tower, has re-incarnated into a public art project that reaches 1.3 million subway commuters daily in Toronto, Canada.

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6 short videos adapted from the documentary and 4 specially-designed subway posters with images from the project  are currently on display throughout the Toronto underground subway system until the end of February. The 30-second videos play continuously every 10 minutes on the digital signage system, while 110 copies of the posters are on display at 59 stations throughout the city.

The project is curated by Sharon Switzer for Pattison Onestop and Art for Commuters (A4C).

The idea for the project was to hone the central concept of One Millionth Tower to its most basic, core, visual theme: to contrast the “real” Toronto highrise conditions with that of the “imagined” landscapes of the residents and architects.

Here’s some pix from my visit to the print shop with Joanna from Helios Design Lab, to check out the 6-foot tall print proofs.

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Nice article in Canada’s Globe and Mail here. Watch this space for the silent videos coming soon.

ONE MILLIONth TOWER: LIVE

One Millionth Tower has gone live — and not just on the web. Here’s some pix from recent live appearances:

LIVE AT THE GLADSTONE HOTEL
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Last week, we celebrated our new web-documentary One Millionth Tower (1MT) live at the historic Gladstone Hotel Ballroom in downtown Toronto. The highlight of the show was a saxophone performance by Jamal, one of the 1MT residents (check out the above bootleg youtube recording by Prof. Roger Keil!) Over 150 Torontonians were in attendance.

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The event was hosted by our incredible Senior Producer, Gerry Flahive, who brought 12 people to the stage, each in their own way, highlighting the collaborative nature of the project.

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Ob represented the residents on our panel, and he spoke out about the need for resident involvement in changing the landscape of our highrise environments across Toronto.

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Graeme Stewart of ERA architects took on tough questions about the mechanics and philosophy of Tower Renewal. How can it really happen? What are the real costs? Who needs to be involved?

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Elise Hug of the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal program, spoke about need for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and how to bring many stakeholders together. She was followed by Jamie Robinson, of United Way, who gave context with the remarkable Vertical Poverty study, and the United Way’s hopes for making the Kipling buildings a demonstration site for what’s possible. Matt Thompson, Chief Storyteller at Mozilla Foundation, rounded out the panel with a great talk about the role open technology can play in city-building. Before the screening, Roger Keil talked about the highrise in the context of “the world” by introdicuing the fabulous Global Suburbanisms project he is spearheading at York University (and with whom we are partnered), while Michael McLelland of ERA Architects gave a great nutshell introduction to the legacy of apartment towers in the city of Toronto. Russell Mitchell of ANC/United Way talked about Rexdale, the neighbourhood in which we are working. Mike Robbins of Helios Design Lab also took to the stage to explain why we used open source to build 1MT.

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Somewhere in the packed house was Marcus Gee, columnist for The Globe and Mail, who then filed this great story about our project and vertical Toronto.

LIVE AT THE REAL HIGHRISE
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A week before the Gladstone, Ob, Faith, Donna and Jamal showed 1MT live to their neighbours in a moving presentation — in the very meeting room in which the project was created.

LIVE ON THE RADIO
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Jamal and Donna also hit the CBC Metro Morning airwaves live in Matt Galloway’s 3-part series dedicated to One Millionth Tower. Metro Morning is the number one morning show in Toronto.

LIVE IN AMSTERDAM
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Meanwhile, One Millionth Tower was showcased *live* in Amsterdam for the largest documentary festival in the world, IDFA, as part of the fantastic DocLab lounge. (HIGHRISE won the inaugural DocLab award there for Out My Window last year. This year the honour went to the artful web-documentary In Situ, a lyrical french project from ARTE, which is not unrelated to urban themes in HIGHRISE).

LIVE AT MOZFEST
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This is me, Kat Cizek, chuffed to be launching 1MT live at the awesome Mozilla Festival in London U.K. in front of a crowd of 4-500 brilliantly talented hackers and journalists who had gathered for the Media, Freedom and the Web Festival.

LIVE ON WEB TV
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And finally, streaming on live web-tv during an interview about 1MT at Mozfest, I had an unexpected visit from the Foxy Mozilla Fox Mascot, the true rockstar of the Mozilla Festival. Never know what can happen when you’re *live.*

Video courtesy Roger Keil, photos from the Gladstone by Marcus Matyas for the NFB, Kipling Launch and CBC Radio by Kat Cizek for the NFB, and Mozilla Festival by Sarah Arruda, for the NFB.

HIGHRISE DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP PROJECT

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So much of life in the global highrise is hidden from public view, behind concrete walls. Even more invisible are the virtual/internet lives of highrise residents. So what is digital connectivity like in the global highrise?

Last Friday, a United Nations Report declared access to the internet a human right.

Only a few days earlier, Statistics Canada revealed that “Overall, about 80 per cent of all Canadian households had Internet access in 2010… Almost all the homes with total incomes above $87,000 were connected, while just 54 per cent of households with incomes under $30,000 had access,” according to The Canadian Press (good coverage at cbc.ca too).

That’s quite the Digital Divide. The stats also reveal a discrepancy between urban and rural. But our question is: how does this play out in the suburb highrise?  What is the relationship between virtual social networks and the geography of suburbs? What does this mean for the future of a (sub)urban planet? These are questions I have been fascinated with since beginning  HIGHRISE, and we are starting to get some early answers this week, as we begin production on our HIGHRISE Digital Citizenship Project. It’s a unique collaboration between our HIGHRISE team, residents in a Toronto Highrise, and a team of academic researchers, led by Prof. Deborah Cowen and Emily Paradis PhD, and connected to the Global Suburbanism MCRI project at York University.

This week, we are working with 14 highrise residents as Peer Researchers, who are going door-to-door with our survey in their highrise building, interviewing their neighbours about digital technologies, their use, access and effects. From the results and discussions that arise with the residents, we hope to gain some baseline knowledge about the state of “digital citizenship” in one building. We hope to build on this data, possibly by doing comparative studies elsewhere in the world, and by going deeper with interviews, focus groups and documentary methods within the building itself. After the first survey session earlier this week, one peer researcher told me she’s been working as a community engagement officer in this building (that she live in) for a while now, but the survey was the first time she got to go into people’s homes to really see residents in their own space.

She said, “We sat down and talked with this lady in her kitchen as she chopped potatoes with a huge knife, the knife was really flying around! And we learned about how she accesses *that other world* – the one on the internet. It’s a huge learning experience for me, and its going to connect residents in this building.”

What’s most cool about the project is the energy that’s bubbling up both on the ground with the peer researchers and residents, and at the high-level academic conceptual level ,with what Deb as Principal Investigator is doing, and how the two are informing each other as we go along.

As Deb says in her early writings about the project: “It is now well established that digital technologies are deeply engrained at a global scale, and furthermore, that these technologies are a crucial part of the logistics of globalization. By reshaping economic, social and cultural forms and flows, digital technologies implicate even those who do not have access to the tools or infrastructure for direct connection. Digital technologies have reshaped collective life, transforming how, where, and when we produce, communicate, learn, re/create, and consume. Digital technologies create virtual and actual communities, they keep people connected across vast distances, they make ideas and information flow far and wide. Yet, they also ‘flexibilize’ working conditions, for instance, extending the working day well into personal time and space, they centralize the dissemination of information, enhance state and corporate surveillance capacities, privatize infrastructure and even citizenship. These technologies can speed things up and open new worlds, and they can cut people off and keep people out. In other words, the impacts of digital technologies are profound and they reshape everyday life in complex, ambiguous, and sometimes, contradictory ways.

This project posits that everyday life in suburban tower communities is shaped by digital technologies in distinct ways that warrant attention. The ‘global suburb’ is an underexplored urban condition in academic research, yet as the Global Suburbanism Major Collaborative Research Initiative[1] might suggest, it may well be the dominant experience and condition of the ‘global city’. An emphasis on what we term the ‘global suburb’ highlights not simply a particular space within the global city, but as we explore in more detail through this research, a set of processes and experiences of social polarization and segregation on the one hand, and on the other hand, particular forms of physical and virtual connection and circulation. Drawing on recent work on the ‘in-between city’ (Keil et al 2011), we suggest that the social geographies and spatial forms particular to these ‘global suburbs’ are paradigmatic in an era of global mobility and precarity. The complex dynamics of fixity and flow that characterize these spaces furthermore trouble any simple notion of citizenship and add nuance to the study of digital citizenship.”


[1] A 7-year international research project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and led by principal investigator Roger Keil at York University.

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Hadi, a Peer Researcher, going from door to door.

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Priti, Peer Researcher (you may recognize her from The Thousandth Tower, watch for her in our upcoming One Millionth Tower and Faith, Ob and Donna have all continued with us too!)

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Last night, kids take a break for some bouncing on the balcony.

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Cheryl and Nahatil, Peer Researchers, conduct survey in the hallway.

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Kristyna (L) Research Field Coordinator, gets data from Nasra and Rita, Peer Researchers.

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Jordana, Research Coordinator, shows off our 15 languages sheet – represent the plethora of languages that our team members speak. We show this sheet to residents, (it includes the name in english and in the language itself) so people can identify the language of their choice.

photos by Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam

POVERTY IS VERTICAL – and the elevators are terrible

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Toronto’s poverty is increasingly vertical according to a landmark United Way study, published last week.

(In the context of the report’s release, I am interviewed about HIGHRISE  in this week’s issue of Eye Weekly.)

The United Way report says “Poverty by Postal Code 2: Vertical Poverty presents new data on the growing concentration of poverty in the City of Toronto and the role that high-rise housing is playing in this trend. The report tracks the continued growth in the spatial concentration of poverty in Toronto neighbourhoods, and in high-rise buildings within neighbourhoods. It then examines the quality of life that high-rise buildings are providing to tenants today. Its primary focus is on privately owned building stock in Toronto’s inner suburbs.” The report is downloadable here.

The first  part of the study looks at the last 25 years of census data to track the concentration of poverty in the inner suburbs, and in particular, highrise buildings. The study shows that while incomes have declined, rents have increased since 1981. ”

“As a result of this “squeeze” on incomes and rents, close to half of the tenants surveyed say they worry about paying the rent each month. Another third say their families do without necessities, including food. Highrises also became more densely populated during this time with the percentage of units housing more than one person per room doubling.”

According to a front page story in The Toronto Star, “The report, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada… calls on the public, private and charitable sectors to properly maintain highrise housing and provide community space and programs for tenants. With demand for rental housing in Toronto predicted to grow by another 20 per cent by 2031, action is urgently needed, the report warns.”

The second part of the study gives a snapshot of current housing conditions in the 1,000+ highrises in Toronto. United Way surveyed 2,803 highrise tenants in the city’s inner suburbs, and conducted a series of focus groups.

The results do not surprise anyone who has spent any time recently in a Toronto suburban highrise. One key finding of special note to us at HIGHRISE relates to elevators.

“[T]heir elevators are so unreliable that a United Way report … calls for a task force specifically targeting their repair. Thousands of interviews with residents indicate these buildings have grown notorious for vermin and vandalism,” notes The Globe and Mail.

Elevators were the focus of one of Jamal’s stories in our own HIGHRISE documentary last year, called THE THOUSANDTH TOWER. This is what Jamal had to say about his highrise experience with elevators:

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JAMAL: “Growing up in Rexdale has been a challenge. I saw a lot at the age of 7, my first year living here. From what I can remember, the building has always been decrepit. The elevator would skip floors, jumping and jolting, moving up and down. I used to wonder if we would survive if the elevator dropped from the 13th floor to B2. I was so terrified when my family went in there. I had disturbing thoughts that they wouldn’t come out. To this day, I’m scared of the elevator.”

The United Way Report makes 26 recommendations, including:

* The City of Toronto continue to take a dedicated program approach to revitalizing the social and physical conditions of aging high-rise apartment buildings across the city, and sustaining this important housing resource for the city’s lower income and newcomer populations.

* The provincial government make its Community Opportunities Fund accessible to private-sector tenant groups for the purpose of engaging tenants and building their capacity to be active participants in the revitalization of their tower communities.

* The federal government to establish a National Housing Strategy which sets out standards for adequate, accessible and affordable housing.

NEWS: TORONTO MIDDLE-CLASS NEIGHBOURHOODS SHRINKING

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You may recall the significant influence that Professor David Hulchanski had on our HIGHRISE thinking. His groundbreaking 2007 research was called The Three Cities within Toronto.

Using census data from 1970-2000, Hulchanski concluded that, despite its claim to being one of the most diverse cities in the world, Toronto was no longer a city of one, but had become a city of 3 neighbourhoods, divided by  income, race and other factors. He showed that City 1 is 84% white, average household income $173,000/year. City 2 is 65% white, average household income $72,000/year. City 3 is 34% white, average household income $59,000/year.

Hulchanski proved that the city’s poverty had drifted to the peripheries of the city.

Now, just last week, he has released a new important update that concludes “If current trends continue, the City of Toronto will eventually be sharply divided into a city of wealthy neighbourhoods and poor neighbourhoods with very few middle- income neighbourhoods.”

Effectively, by 2025 , City 2 will shrink down to make up only 10% of the city, City 3 will take over 60%, leaving 30% to City 1, according to the new report.

A city of three distinct types of neighbourhoods, will become a city of two. The rich and the poor.

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A front page story about the report in Canada’s leading newpaper, The Globe and Mail, says “Toronto, a predominantly middle-class metropolis just three decades ago, is increasingly dominated by two opposite populations – one with an average income of $88,400, and another of $26,900. These two groups live in different neighbourhoods, work in different sectors, send their children to different schools and have divergent and unequal access to city services and public transit.”

But Hulchanski also argues that these changes are not inevitable.

The solution? Tower Renewal.

According to the report, “The segregation of the city by income is not inevitable or irreversible. These trends could be slowed or reversed by public policies that would make housing more affordable to low-income households, by efforts to expand access to transit and services in neighbourhoods where the need is greatest, and by renewing the aging high-rise neighbourhoods scattered throughout City #3.”

Via email, Hulchanski told me “It is in the 40% of the city where neighbourhoods have been steadily declining in average individual income and socio-economic status that half of all rental housing is in the now 40 and 50 year old towers. The research by our team adds a huge amount of evidence supporting the conclusion that a major tower renewal initiative is the most important way to not only improve the lives of so many lower income renters but to improve the quality of their neighbourhoods. The Three Cities Within Toronto report draws attention to the steady decline in 40% of the city’s neighbourhoods. There are many large and small actions that will reverse the negative trends leading to an increasingly divided city but tower renewal is the most important.

I also asked him about how his research fits into global predictions of a shrinking middle class. He said “Though many people still call themselves “middle class,” all evidence about growing inequality, the ever widening income and wealth gap between rich and poor, a process that began in the 1980s, points out that the “middle” has virtually disappeared. The middle income group can be defined, as it is in our report. We show how this group was indeed a majority in the 1970s (66% of the City’s neighbourhoods) but is now a minority (29%) and only a small and declining plurality in the outer suburbs (from 86% to 61%). This is a trend that is most pronounced in Anglo-American countries, where the income gap is much larger than in most of the Western European countries. There is a great deal of populist resentment because the majority believes they are “middle class” yet they cannot live a middle class life style. They cannot afford the expected or assumed middle class package of goods and services because they are, on average, much lower income in real terms than ten and twenty years ago. In addition, many of the goods and services provided by or subsidized by the state have been cut back or eliminated.”

It’s a stark picture for Canada’s largest city and it’s remarkable research, the kind that should be done in urban areas around the world, to address our (mis)understandings of the places we live.

1000th TOWER UPDATE

Lots has happened since we came out with The Thousandth Tower documentary, told by residents in a Toronto Suburban Highrise. So… we’ve added an UPDATE chapter to the documentary itself! Find out what’s happened since  — and because of — the launch of the documentary. Witness the impact of the residents’ stories on their own lives, the community, the Tower Renewal process and the whole city.

THE THOUSANDTH TOWER

Our First project of HIGHRISE, an exploration of life in global vertical urban peripheries, is about to premiere. If you are near or around Toronto, please join us…

Toronto is a city of more than 1000 towers. But we rarely hear from the people who live in them.

Equipped with digital cameras and powerful personal points-of-view, six Toronto residents are documenting their own vertical lives against the backdrop of the city’s ambitious Tower Renewal effort. Their photo stories are the first installment of the National Film Board of Canada’s long-term collaborative documentary project, HIGHRISE, witnessing the human experience in vertical living across the globe.

Join Toronto Mayor David Miller as we showcase
photos and storytelling in a

LIVE PRESENTATION
AND 
LAUNCH of the WEB DOCUMENTARY
THE THOUSANDTH TOWER
stories from inside a Toronto Suburban Highrise
with PANEL DISCUSSION

Wednesday, May 12, 6 pm

Toronto City Hall
First Floor Rotunda
100 Queen St West

Reception to follow

City staff and councillors please RSVP to tower@toronto.ca
Everyone else, please RSVP to highrise@nfb.ca