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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Video and social justice : reimagining the city Hallenbeck, Jessica Wynne 2007

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VIDEO A N D SOCIAL, JUSTICE: REIMAGINING T H E CITY by Jess ica W y n n e H a l l e n b e c k A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF MASTER OF ARTS P L A N N I N G in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Planning) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 2007 © Jessica Wynne Hallenbeck, 2007 Abstract There is presently an impressive body of literature on the relationship between video and empowerment, but there is scant attention paid to the larger concept of social justice, and in what ways video may assist in expressing and advancing claims to the city. This thesis explores some possible ways that video can contribute to the struggle for social justice. Using one short video, Wishlist, as a case study, the research probes the relationship between the right to the city, social justice, and video. Drawing on definitions of social justice advanced by Henri Lefebvre and Iris Marion Young, this thesis argues that the right to the city begins with imagining cities as being different from their present state. This imagining involves dialoguing, participating, and appropriating. Video is one creative tool that can assist in this imagining. n Table of Contents Abstract Table of contents List of illustrations •. Acknowledgements 1 Social justice and video 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Research assumptions 1.3 Research questions 1.4 Reasons for undertaking the study 1.5 Organization of the Thesis 2 Contextualizing 2.1 Situating Wishhst geographically 2.2 Situating Wishlist institutionally 2.3 Project description 2.4 Research methodology 3 Living: the city and habitation 3.1 Cities as sites of dialogue and appropriation 3.2 The right to participation and imagination 3.3 Participation, imagination, and Utopia 4 Dialoguing and representing 4.1 Video and dialogue 4.2 Dialogue, style, and voice in Wishlist 4.3 Wishlist's production: process, politics, and product. 5 From dialoguing to appropriating 5.1 Wishlist as Utopia 5.2 Wishlist imagining spatial appropriation 5.3 Wishlist's vision for inhabiting the city 5.4 Wishl i s t ' s po l i t i c s '. 35 6 Evaluating 37 6.1 A p p l i c a b i l i t y 37 6.2 R e c e p t i o n 39 6.3 Ins t i tu t iona l integrat ion 41 6.4 R e l e v a n c e 43 6.5 R e s e a r c h c o n c l u s i o n s 44 B i b l i o g r a p h y 45 A p p e n d i c e s 52 A p p e n d i x A 55 A p p e n d i x B 54 A p p e n d i x C 55 iv List of Illustrations I l lus trat ion 4.1 S c r e e n s h o t o f Wish l i s t ' s three sect ions 19 I l lus trat ion 4.2 S c r e e n s h o t o f Wishl i s t ' s C a r r a l l street p a n 20 I l lus trat ion 4.3 S c r e e n s h o t o f Wish l i s t ' s P i g e o n P a r k still 20 I l lus trat ion 4.4 S c r e e n s h o t o f Wish l i s t ' s first a n i m a t i o n sequence '. 20 I l lus trat ion 4.5 S c r e e n s h o t o f Wish l i s t ' s a n i m a t i o n 25 v Acknowledgements Numerous individuals deserve thanks for committing their time, patience, and energy to this thesis. This project would not have been possible without the commitment of the Projections and Ear to the Ground Planning staff. I thank Ian Marcuse and April Curry for being wonderful, imaginative co-producers. Professor Leonie Sandercock and Dr. Wendy Sarkissian provided valuable support throughout the course of this thesis. Thanks to Gaelen Hallenbeck and Adrienne Eiser for our shared laughter in times of stress. Last, I would like to thank my parents for their proofreading skills, encouragement, and unconditional support throughout my academic career. vi Shadowed by reality the dreams that we hold can become oppressed by vulgar necessities, that seem to go against our shining integrity that may be tarnished sorely • by the lies and compromises we feel required to make to live. Sooner or later our soul will claim its demands break free of the weight of the restrictions of centuries return to its source revitalizing our stale old rituals injecting us with the courage to speak our truth the ability to shine our light. Delayne Azrael, 2006. Social Justice and Video Introduction This thesis examines the relationship between the right to the city, social justice, and video. Video and Social Justice: Relmagining the City argues that the right to the city starts by imagining our city as being different from its present state. Video, by engaging people in a dialogue over their rights to participation and appropriation, fosters this essential act of imagining, thereby contributing to the struggle for social justice. Using a case study approach, the thesis draws on a five-minute digital video entitled Wishlist, which I was responsible for co-producing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, during the summer of 20061. Wishlist was one of a trio of short films made in the Spring of 2006, originally conceived as a participatory video project that focused on a particular street in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver. Carrall Street was at that time the subject of a design project by the City of Vancouver (described in Chapter 2) and it was the film makers' collective intention to.experiment with the use of 1 Wishlist has been included as part of the thesis manuscript. It is the author's suggestion that it be viewed before reading Chapter 3. The short length of the video was predetermined by three groups involved in the video's production, a process which is described in Chapter 2. Given the length restrictions of the film, the broader applicability of the video is limited. This will be discussed in Chapter 6. 2 video as a way of eliciting residents' desires for this pivotal street which connects different parts of the downtown area. The purpose of Wishlist was thus twofold. First, we wanted to engage people in a dialogue about how they see themselves and their neighbourhood. Second, we wanted to be able to convey this vision to City of Vancouver planners, in the hope of affecting decisions made about the street. Wishlist provides a unique opportunity to ground social justice theories in a video case study, thereby expanding the range of tools available in the community's struggle for social justice. The study of Wishlist also has important implications for the role of video in planning, a topic that will be explored in Chapter 6. Research Assumptions Three general assumptions are foundational for this study: first, that democracy is the only system of governance that enables self- and collective empowerment (Friedmann, 1987); second, that Canada's democratic system is flawed and needs restructuring, especially at municipal level (Magnusson, 1981); and third, that deliberation, discourse, and conflict serve to strengthen democracy (Mouffe, 2005). These assumptions are implicitly addressed throughout this work. 3 Research Questions This thesis addresses three main questions: Question 1: What role do rights play in our understanding of social justice and the city? In answering this question, I explore certain theories of social justice, arguing that the rights to participation and appropriation are crucial to the active inhabitation of the city. Question 2: Can video promote dialogue? In addressing this question, I examine the importance of dialogue in affirming our right to participation. Wishlist is used as an example of an inclusive process that deploys Utopian thinking to encourage new understandings of city rights. Question 3: What role does video play in encouraging urban imagination and appropriation? I explore how, in affirming our right to participation, we come to claim our right to appropriation. I look at how Wishlist's visuals, vision, and politics serve to empower people to imagine how they could appropriate the city. 4 Reasons for undertaking this study The right to the city has attracted considerable attention in recent academic literature, but the concept has remained theoretically amorphous, rarely grounded in practical application. The objective of this thesis is to examine the ways that video can advance claims to the city. On a personal level, as a planning student with a previous degree in film studies, this thesis enabled me to pursue my two passions. I strongly believe that post-Rawlsian definitions of social justice need to be at the heart of current planning practice, and that video is one tool through which this can be achieved.3 This thesis draws on theories of social justice put forth by Iris Marion Young and Henri Lefebvre, and discusses the apphcability of their theories to video, through a close examination of the video Wishlist. There are related areas of study that will not be covered here. The issue of video access is crucial to any discussion of rights and imagination. As my scope is limited to the analysis of Wishlist, this topic is not included in this thesis. For the same reasons, a discussion of the role that participatory video plays in fostering social justice has not been addressed in this study. 2 For a detailed account of why there has been renewed interest in the right to the city and in the thinking of Henri Lefebvre, see Purcell (2002). 3 John Rawls was a philosopher who argued extensively for a normative approach to social justice, including 1 5 Organization of the Thesis I begin my exploration of the relationship between social justice and video by establishing Wishlist's context and research methodology. I then lay the theoretical framework for the study, exploring the question of how we define the city. Chapter 2 establishes the geographical, institutional, and production context of Wishlist and delineates my research methodology. Chapter 3 is centered on the question "what is the city"? I argue that the city is the site of dialogue and appropriation, and that we claim our rights to dialogue and appropriation through engaging in Utopian thinking. I then expand on this argument in Chapter 4 to look at how Wishlist. through an inclusive interviewing and production process, facilitates dialogue. In chapter 5,1 analyze Wishlist's visuals, vision, and politics to understand how we can move from dialogue to appropriation. I conclude by evaluating Wishlist's applicability, reception, and institutional integration, and argue that many of Wishlist's dissemination problems are common impediments in the use of video as a planning tool. 6 Contextualizing Before discussing the links between social justice and video, it is necessary to situate Wishlist geographically, institutionally, and methodologically.4 Situating Wishlist Geographically Wishlist is a video focused on a single Vancouver street: Carrall Street, which is located in the Downtown Eastside. The street runs north/south in downtown Vancouver, beginning at Water Street, and ending at Pacific Boulevard. Importantly, it connects the communities of Gastown, the Downtown Eastside (DTES), and Chinatown. The Carrall Street Participatory Video Project was located in the DTES, ' an inner city Vancouver neighbourhood that occupies 113 hectares (DTES It is essential to note from the outset that this thesis is focusing on video and not participatory video. Participatory video is defined in various ways, and its methodology is derived from participatory acdon research. Johannsen, in "Questions and Answers about Pardcipatory Video", defines participatory video as "a scriptiess video process, directed by a group of grassroots people, moving forward in often iterative cycles of shoodng and reviewing. The aim is to create video narratives that communicate what those who participate in the process really want to communicate, in a way they think is appropriate. Participants take part in some or all of: shooting, scriptwriting, determining content" (2000, p.3). In order to avoid getting into a discussion of how participatory the project was, and because this thesis is much more concerned with product rather than process, the scope has been narrowed to examine social justice and video through the lens of Wishlist as simply a video. 5 The DTES has been the site of contested definitions, naming, and categorizing. It is not within the scope of this paper to give a detailed, discursive account of the downtown eastside. PIVOT Legal society defines the DTES as follows. "The DTES is found in the downtown core of Vancouver. It is one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods. Although it is 7 community Webpage). The D T E S is infamous for being Canada's poorest postal code. According to Statistics Canada, in 2001 the average household income in the D T E S was $15,647 (City of Vancouver, 2007a). While the D T E S has a high proportion of intravenous drug users in its population, the area is also home to a vibrant, artistic community with many diverse social groups, including a high percentage of First Nations Peoples. 6 As a low-income inner city neighbourhood, it is the focus of ongoing contestations over the nature and scale of gentrification. relatively smal l geographica l ly , its p o p u l a t i o n is v e r y diverse . F o r t y - e i g h t p e r c e n t o f its p o p u l a t i o n consis ts o f m e m b e r s o f e thn ic minor i t i e s , a n d m e n a n d seniors are o v e r r e p r e s e n t e d i n the p o p u l a t i o n c o m p a r e d w i t h o t h e r areas o f V a n c o u v e r . T h e n e i g h b o u r h o o d consists o f five d i s t inct areas: C h i n a t o w n , G a s t o w n , V i c t o r y S q u a r e , S t r a t h c o n a a n d O p p e n h e i m e r . It has l o n g b e e n a c o m m u n i t y w i t h a h i g h c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f social p r o b l e m s , i n c l u d i n g p o v e r t y , m e n t a l i l lness, d r u g use, c r i m e , surv iva l sex w o r k , h i g h H I V / H e p a t i t i s i n f e c t i o n rates, u n e m p l o y m e n t a n d v i o l e n c e " ( E b y , 2006 p. 5). F o r a h i s tory o f the D o w n t o w n E a s t s i d e , see S o m m e r s , J . (2001) T h e Place o f the P o o r : P o v e r t y . Space a n d the Pol i t i cs o f R e p r e s e n t a t i o n i n D o w n t o w n V a n c o u v e r . 1950-1997. P h . D . thesis, S i m o n F r a s e r U n i v e r s i t y . F o r a crit ical l o o k at soc ia l m o v e m e n t s a n d space i n the D o w n t o w n E a s t s i d e , see B l o m l e y , N . (2004) U n s e t t l i n g the C i t y : U r b a n L a n d a n d the Pol i t i cs o f P r o p e r t y . N e w Y o r k , R o u t l e d g e . 6 E x a c t percentages vary . P I V O T L e g a l Soc i e ty estimates that 3 0 % o f D T E S res idents are i n t r a v e n o u s d r u g users, a m o u n t i n g to 5,000 users i n a p p r o x i m a t e l y 10 city b l o c k s ( P I V O T website) . A c c o r d i n g to P I V O T legal soc iety , A b o r i g i n a l P e o p l e s const i tute 8.4 p e r c e n t o f the D T E S p o p u l a t i o n ( E b y , 2006 p . 8). T h e percentage o f A b o r i g i n a l P e o p l e s i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a is 4.4 p e r c e n t ( E b y , 2006 p . 8). D a v i d L e y has w r i t t e n mul t ip l e p u b l i c a t i o n s o n the t o p i c o f gentr i f i ca t ion i n the D T E S , specif ical ly re lat ing gentr i f i ca t ion to l ivable city doc tr ine . See f o r e x a m p l e , L e y , D . (1980) I d e o l o g y a n d the P o s t i n d u s t r i a l C i t y . A n n a l s o f the A s s o c i a t i o n o f A m e r i c a n G e o g r a p h e r s . 70 (2) J u n e , p . l 7 . 8 Situating Wishlist Institutionally In an always politically charged and antagonistic atmosphere, the City of Vancouver is making a concerted effort to economically revitalize the D T E S . 8 The redesign of Carrall Street into a greenway is intended to play an integral role in this venture.9 The City of Vancouver has approved five million dollars for the Greenway in its 2006-2008 capital budget plan (City of Vancouver, 2007b). Additionally, the Carrall Street project is receiving funding from the private sector (City of Vancouver, 2007b). According to the City of Vancouver's Carrall Street Greenway Webpage, the purpose of the Greenway is to foster community building and encourage economic revitalization. The redesign of Carrall Street "incorporates green infrastructure, facilitates private investments, and provides opportunities for social services, arts and culture programming to help achieve environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability for the area" (City of Vancouver 8 Please see C i t y o f V a n c o u v e r . (2007b) T h e C a r r a l l Street G r e e n w a y [Internet], C i t y o f V a n c o u v e r . A v a i l a b l e f r o m : < h t t p : / / w w w . c i t y . v a n c o u v e r . b e . c a / e n g s v e s / s t r e e t s / g r e e n w a y s / c i t y / c a r r a l l / i n d e x . h t m > [ A c c e s s e d 4 J u n e 2007] f o r m o r e i n f o r m a d o n o n the e c o n o m i c rev i ta l izat ion p l a n f o r the D T E S . 9 T h e C i t y o f V a n c o u v e r has a greenways p l a n for the city. T h e i r greenways webs i te explains: " G r e e n w a y s i n V a n c o u v e r are l inear p u b l i c c o r r i d o r s f o r pedes tr ians a n d cyclists that c o n n e c t p a r k s , nature reserves , cu l tural features, h i s tor ic sites, n e i g h b o u r h o o d s a n d retail areas" (Ci ty o f V a n c o u v e r (2007c). 9 2007d). The City of Vancouver has held a number of charrettes10 and meetings surrounding the redesign of Carrall Street. The Carrall Street Participatory Video Project (CSPVP) was in part created to articulate D T E S resident's visions on how Carrall Street might be used as a public space.11 The intention at the outset was to use the videos to inform the City of Vancouver's redesign of Carrall Street. Wishlist was one of three video productions resulting from the project. Project Description The CSPVP was a joint venture among three groups: Projections, Ear to the Ground Planning, and the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning. While the videos were not funded by the City of Vancouver, the City was kept up to date on the progress of the project. The participants in the CSPVP included five at-risk youth from the "The French word, "charrette" means "cart" and is often used to describe the final, intense work effort expended by art and architecture students to meet a project deadline. This use of the term is said to originate from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris during the 19th century, where proctors circulated a cart, or "charrette", to collect final drawings while students frantically put finishing touches on their work" (National Charrette Institute, 2007). 1 1 Because this video project was a participatory video project, the intent was never clearly delineated. Furthermore, due to time constraints, the actual ability of the City of Vancouver to use the videos to inform the public design process was limited. For an extended discussion of this, please see Vallillee (2007). 12 Projections is a Portland Hotel Society venture that provides skill building and video mentorship opportunities to "at-risk youth", mainly from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The term "at-risk youth" is used by Projections, who developed the term in partnership with the youth'involved in their video projects. Ear to the Ground Planning is a planning consulting company that uses video as part of the planning process. 10 D T E S , six planning students, and five mentors. My role in the project was as a planning student participant.13 The CSPVP was carried out between February 1 and September 30, 2006. The project ended with the completion of three separate, but thematically connected video productions: Wishlist The Spinning Image and Stories from Carrall Street.14 The whole group discussed broad themes, and then individual videos were collaboratively written, filmed, and edited by groups of three to five participants. Wishlist is the result of collaboration among three planning students and one at-risk youth. 1 5 The conceptual framework for Wishlist was developed over the course of a weekend and shooting and editing took just over three weeks to complete. During production, the Wishlist team worked closely together on the vision and argument of the film, decided how interviews would be conducted, and Due to my prior undergraduate education in Film Studies,! was immediately drawn to the CSPVP, which afforded me a unique opportunity to deepen my knowledge of video and planning and explore the synergies between the two. To this end, the project has proven to be an extremely rewarding experience. 1 4 The other two films have not been included in this Thesis. If interested in viewing them, please contact Jonathan Frantz at Ear to the Ground Planning (www.eartothegroundplanning.com). 1 5 The two other planning students were Ian Marcuse and Elana Cossover, and the youth was April Curry. 11 who would be interviewed.16 The specific aesthetic and narrative decisions addressed in Chapter 4 were made collectively by the four participants, and sometimes a resolution was arrived at only after heated debate.17 Our group determined that Wishlist would have several purposes. The first was simply to get D T E S residents thinking and talking about the Carrall Street redesign. The second purpose was to honour people's ideas for the space, by incorporating them into the film. The third purpose was to /communicate the ideas expressed in the video to several different parties: the general Vancouver public, officials at the City of Vancouver responsible for the Carrall Street redesign, and D T E S residents. Research Methodology Planning theorist John Friedmann asks "Aren't we all social actors?" (Friedmann, 2000 p. 461).18 This question has guided the research and writing of this thesis. My intention at the CSPVP's outset was to explore the ways in which participatory video could contribute to the struggle for social justice in Clear ly , this p r o c e s s i n v o l v e d a po l i t i c s o f i n c l u s i o n a n d e x c l u s i o n . T h i s w i l l b e d i scussed i n c h ap ter 4 w i t h regard to v o i c e . 17 C h a p t e r 4 discusses o n e s u c h debate , w h i c h i n v o l v e d the d e c i s i o n n o t to s h o w people ' s faces i n the film. 18 J o h n F r i e d m a n n has w r i t t e n extens ive ly o n the ro l e o f Utopian t h i n k i n g a n d i n s u r g e n c y i n p l a n n i n g . Part i cu lar ly re levant to this thesis is T h e P r o s p e c t o f C i d e s (2002). i n w h i c h F r i e d m a n n discusses the usefulness o f U t o p i a n t h i n k i n g . 12 the city. I conducted two literature reviews, one focused on social justice, the other on participatory video. I obtained informed consent from all participants and project leaders and it was my intention to conduct participant interviews. However, my initial plan to focus on understanding the relationships among participation, video, and social justice shifted to examining Wishlist in the context of social justice theory. Therefore, the video Wishlist became my data set.20 Using Wishlist as the major data set for the thesis allows for a unique opportunity to integrate the two components of reflective practice: reflecting in action and reflecting on action (Schon, 1983). In the following chapters, Wishlist is primarily utilized as a discursive device, grounding social justice theory in a video case study. As such, it serves as a reflection on action, and in Chapter 6, is utilized as a reflexive device.21 In addition to reflecting on action, I kept a journal of the video making process, including personal experiences, 1 9 A s part o f this init ial f ocus , I c o n d u c t e d an extensive p a r t i c i p a t o r y v i d e o l i terature rev iew, w h i c h h e l p e d m e to def ine p a r t i c i p a t o r y v i d e o . T h e l i terature r e v i e w has b e e n i n c l u d e d i n the w o r k s c i ted. 20 I n s w i t c h i n g m e t h o d o l o g i c a l a p p r o a c h e s f r o m par t i c ipant - in terv iews to p a r t i c i p a n t -o b s e r v a t i o n , it was m y i n t e n t i o n to o b s e r v e audience reac t ions to W i s h l i s t . H o w e v e r , because o f c i r c u m s t a n c e s d e s c r i b e d i n chapter 6, this was n o t p o s s i b l e . 21 I a m r e l y i n g o n the f o l l o w i n g d e f i n i t i o n o f reflexivity: Re f l ex iv i ty i n v o l v e s a p p l y i n g o u r crit ical t h i n k i n g to prac t i ce , there fore c h a n g i n g contexts , pro jec t s , a n d p e o p l e : " e x a m i n i n g critically the a s s u m p t i o n s u n d e r l y i n g o u r act ions , the i m p a c t o f those a c t i o n s " ( C u n l i f f e , 2004:410) . 13 meeting agendas, and audience reactions to Wishlist. My experience as a participant provided additional insights into specific stylistic and ethical choices made during the course of the project. In turn, these experiences facilitated an analysis on reflecting in practice.22 The following chapters examine Wishlist through the methodological approach of a reflective practitioner. S c h o n , i n T h e Ref l ec t ive Prac t i t ioner : H o w Profes s iona l s T h i n k i n A c t i o n (1983), descr ibes re f lec t ing i n pract i ce as a re f l ec t ing i n ac t ion that is a b o u t the t h i n k i n g i n v o l v e d i n d o i n g . i 14 Living: The City and Habitation The following chapter argues that cities are an assemblage of differences: places o f overlapping dialogues, narratives, and identities. As such, people can only engage in the city i f they are able to exercise their rights to participation and appropriation. Cities as sites of dialogue and appropriation Cities are sites o f difference, where the "being together as strangers" is constitutive o f city life (Young, 1990 p. 237). 2 3 This being together is often fraught with challenges, as different lifeways bump up against each other, taken-for-granted ways of doing and being are called into question, and we struggle to find ways of peacefully co-existing. In spite o f the aversion of most people to such discomfort, these challenges are often useful, as they force us to question our own epistemologies, meanings, and narratives (Lefebvre, 1996). 2 4 Iris Marion Young's major contributions have included expanding on theories of social justice and urban social movements. In particular, her Justice and the Politics of Difference (1990). is considered a groundbreaking and innovative work that calls into question many of the ideas espoused by the Marxist David Harvey in his celebrated Social Justice and the City (1973). 2 4 Henri Lefebvre, born in France in 1901, was profoundly influenced by the events of Paris, 1968. He was a prominent intellectual figure amongst the Surrealists, Situationists International, and French Communist Party . While his work has influenced many thinkers, he never subscribed to one theoretical doctrine. His works include the Critique of Everyday Life (1947) and The Production of Space (1974). "The city writes and assigns, that is, it signifies, orders, stipulates. What? That is to be discovered by reflection" (Lefebvre, 1996:102). This doesn't really sit well here. I suggest that you move it to the top of page, as an intro quote. 15 The result is that we are constantly re-interpreting, re-imagining, and re-making the city. 2 5 The city is therefore both the site and the product o f the evolving engagement o f its inhabitants. Participation in city life can change our sense of meaning and belonging, our sense of place and our understanding o f our right to the city. When this happens, the city becomes the site o f appropriations intended to enact new meanings (Lefebvre, 1996). Through our interaction with others, we adopt aspects o f their perspectives that then inform our own narratives. These moments o f appropriation are unpredictable, ambiguous and playful and, for Y o u n g and Lefebvre, it's important to embrace them as being at the heart of city life (Young, 1990; Lefebvre, 1996). The right to participation and imagination For cross-cultural dialogue and appropriation to occur, we first need to claim our right to participate in the city. We must know that we have a right to inhabit the city before we can be empowered to change it (Lefebvre, 1996). Inhabiting the city means recognizing that we have the right to determine our actions and the conditions o f our action (Young, 1990). This involves the ability to see our current environments and circumstances as aspects o f our A s H o m i B h a b h a writes: " m e a n i n g s m a y be part ia l because they are i n m e d i a res; a n d h i s t o r y m a y be h a l f - m a d e because it is i n the p r o c e s s o f b e i n g m a d e " ( B h a b h a , 1990 p.3). 16 lives that we can change. Thus, the right to participation is crucial to the active inhabitation of the city. Participation, Imagination, and Utopia I f participation is a critical component o f city life, how then do we come to claim this right? Lefebvre argues that acts o f imagination allow us to come together, despite out differences (Lefebvre, 1996). It is through imagining things as being different from their present state that we begin to participate in 26 the creation o f the city. The right to the city therefore originates with the right-to imagine participating in its creation. Because Utopias are stories that critique the present in order to construct a better future, they are powerful devices for initiating this process o f imagining (Friedmann, 2000). For Iris Marion Young , this type of thinking is the first step towards social justice. In expressing our desire for change, we claim our right to imagine things differently (Young, 1990; Mitchell , 2003). Utopias are useful tools for fostering dialogue because they allow people to articulate their visions for their future without having to make direct reference to their (often painful) present. This detachment can be liberating becauseit enables people to move from their present context o f fear, or feelings o f powerlessness, to a future context o f hope. Instead o f .evaluating the 26 F o r a fur ther d i s c u s s i o n o n the i m p o r t a n c e o f this, see M a s s e y (1991). 17 present for what it lacks, Utopian thinking insists that people imagine the future for what it holds. In this way, people are able to engage with their right to inhabit the city. This chapter has argued that cities are places o f overlapping narratives and contested meanings. In order to engage in discourses about urban life, the right to inhabit the city, in the fullest sense, needs to be established through participation and appropriation. A s social justice begins with imagining the right to participate in the creation o f the city, Utopias are powerful devices for moving towards social justice. 18 Dialoguing and Representing T h e preceding chapter has argued that we c la im our right to inhabi t the city th rough dialogue. F i lms can engage people i n dialogue, and are therefore an impor tant t o o l for st imulating mul t ip le understandings o f the city. T h r o u g h a close reading o f Wishl is t ' s aesthetic, stylistic, and procedura l choices, this chapter reveals the important role that video can play i n fostering dialogue through an inclusive process. T h e v ideo is d iv ided in to three parts: "Bas i c Needs" , " P i g e o n P a r k " 2 7 , and " C o m m u n i t y Space" (Illustration 4.1). I l lustration 4.1 Screenshots o f Wishl is t ' s three sections Wish l i s t contains three m a i n visual devices: a l o n g pan o f Vancouve r ' s Carra l l Street (Illustration 4.2), three still images taken a long the street (Illustration 4.3), and two one-minute segments o f s top-mot ion an imat ion (Illustration 4.4). P i g e o n P a r k is a p a r k loca ted o n the n o r t h w e s t c o r n e r o f H a s t i n g s Street a n d C a r r a l l Street. It is V a n c o u v e r ' s smallest o f f i c ia l p a r k , a n d a p lace w h e r e m a n y res idents congregate t h r o u g h o u t the day. P i g e o n P a r k is o f t e n d e s c r i b e d as b e i n g the heart o f the D T E S c o m m u n i t y , a n d , (as a recent ly p a i n t e d graff i t i tag i n the p a r k reads) it is "the peop le ' s park" . 19 I l lustrat ion 4.2 Screenshot o f Wishl is t ' s Carra l l Street pan Il lustration 4.3 Screenshot o f Wishl is t ' s P i g e o n Park still The visuals are driven by the film's soundtrack, which contains a mix o f music, poetry, and dialogue. Thirteen unidentified Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents drive the narration, which focuses on re-envisioning Carrall Street. This chapter explains why we made these structural and aesthetic choices. Video and Dialogue N e i l Leach, a British architect and cultural studies theorist, argues that our identities are constructed around place specific performances (Leach, 2005). 2 8 Like place-specific performances, film viewing changes our individual identities and alters our perceptions o f place. When we 'read' a film, we make sense of the on-screen world by projecting parts o f ourselves into the story. However, this is not a one-way exercise; because we have projected ourselves onto the film, we are also affected by it (Leach, 2005). Films make us cry or laugh because we have invested parts o f ourselves into them. F i lm, through its very medium, facilitates a process o f self-reflexive dialogue. Dialogue, Style, and Voice in Wishlist I f dialogue is central to asserting citizens' rights to the city, how can certain stylistic choices in filming influence the nature o f the conversation? The Wishlist production team struggled over this question, and made several N e i l Leach has argued for a critical understanding o f architecture that brings architecture with in the realm o f cultural studies (Leach, 2005). 21 stylistic and narrative choices in order to address issues o f D T E S stereotyping and representation. The first and most divisive consideration for our group was whether to show people's faces in the film. Given the dreamlike tone that we envisioned for Wishl is t it made sense on a narrative level to avoid a talking-head montage. However, we also wanted to valorize people's opinions and worried that not showing their faces would be disempowering, especially considering that D T E S residents are usually portrayed as being part o f a homogeneously dysfunctional community. After many heated discussions, we finally decided that the sets o f assumptions that outsiders might carry could eclipse what the speakers were saying: people would see class, addiction, or physical trauma instead of actually listening, and thereby might be prevented from entering into a dialogue with what was being expressed. As one of the main goals o f the film was to address n o n - D T E S residents' stereotypes o f the area, we felt that this decision not to show interviewees' faces was crucial to the success o f Wishlist as a dialoguing tool. The second concern involved deciding which members o f the D T E S to interview. This was a highly charged issue because the people chosen would define the content and dialogue of our film. Making interview decisions directly engages with issues o f representation, voice, and censorship. 22 One of the drawbacks of Wishlist is that, given the time constraints o f the project, we were unable to make new connections in the D T E S . A s trust and rapport is crucial to the success o f any interview, it was decided that the people with whom we already had an established relationship would be willing to share their Utopian visions with us as and a larger audience. This decision meant that D T E S residents who were less visible, vocal, and politically engaged were unable to participate in the formal, sit-down interviews that we conducted. In an attempt to mitigate this issue o f voice, we also conducted informal street interviews in the neighbourhood. Given that video crews and television newscasters have repeatedly exploited D T E S residents, we decided that it was best to only use an audio-recorder. 3 0 This decision also made it easier in post-production to integrate the informal and formal interviews. Unlike the formal interviews, the street interviews consisted o f asking people one succinct question:. " I f you could put anything on Carrall Street, what would it be?" This It is important to note in this regard that having a youth who worked and sometimes lived in the community was essential to building trust, and setting up interviews. 30 While using an audio recorder made some people more wil l ing to be interviewed, there was still significant reluctance f rom people to be recorded. Consequently, a large proport ion o f the voices in Wishlist come f rom the formal interviews that we conducted. 23 question was designed to be as o p e n as possible, whi le still adher ing to the geographic constraints o f the video' project. 3 1 I n addi t ion to recorded interviews, we employed a thi rd strategy to include as m a n y vis ions as possible . Because the D T E S is an artistic communi ty , and also one w i t h a large percentage o f E S L residents as w e l l as h igh illiteracy rates, we felt that it was necessary to include non-verba l forms o f 32 expression i n the f i lm. W e asked people w h o felt uncomfor tab le be ing audio-taped, i f we c o u l d write d o w n a few o f their ideas, and incorpora ted these 33 visions in to the animat ion. W e also asked people to contr ibute mus ic , poetry, and art to Wishl i s t . T h e result was a montage o f vis ions for Carra l l Street, based o n bo th verbal and non-verba l ways o f dialoguing. I n the f o r m a l in terv iews , w e c h o s e to n o t have a set list o f ques t ions b e f o r e h a n d : w e b e g a n each i n t e r v i e w b y ask ing w h a t the interviewee w o u l d p u t o n C a r r a l l Street , b u t the f o l l o w - u p ques t ions were b a s e d o n o u r k n o w l e d g e o f the p e r s o n . F o r the i n f o r m a l interviews , w e o n l y asked o n e q u e s t i o n : " I f y o u c o u l d p u t a n y t h i n g o n C a r r a l l Street , w h a t w o u l d it be?" I n c o n d u c t i n g i n f o r m a l in terv iews , the d e v i c e o f m a k i n g a f i l m a l l o w e d us to discuss o p e n l y the C a r r a l l Street G r e e n w a y i n a n o n - i n s t i t u t i o n a l e n v i r o n m e n t . It ra i sed awareness o f the changes o c c u r r i n g o n the street a n d c o n s e q u e n t l y e n c o u r a g e d p e o p l e to reflect o n h o w they have used the space i n the past a n d w o u l d w a n t to use the space i n the future. 32 • . . . . A c c o r d i n g to a r e p o r t released b y the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ' s L e a r n i n g E x c h a n g e , the D T E S has a h i g h e r n u m b e r o f p e o p l e w h o have less t h a n a G r a d e 9 e d u c a t i o n w h e n c o m p a r e d to the rest o f V a n c o u v e r ( N e w m a n , 2005). 33 W e w o u l d wr i te d o w n p e o p l e s ' ideas a n d then read t h e m b a c k to t h e m , to ensure accuracy . E d i t i n g requires the se lec t ion o f specif ic ideas that w o r k w i t h the narrat ive c o h e r e n c e o f the piece . A s s u c h , w h i l e w e tried to i n c o r p o r a t e e i ther v isual ly o r aud ib ly s o m e t h i n g f r o m e v e r y o n e w i t h w h o m w e spoke , that was n o t always p o s s i b l e . 2 4 T h i s montage o f visions (as seen i n Il lustration 4.5) was made possible by our decis ion to use animat ion as the primary visual device for Wishl i s t . O u r reliance o n an imat ion c i rcumvented one o f the m a i n drawbacks o f v ideo , i n w h i c h all too often inarticulate o r camera-shy people are edited out o f the final product . I l lustrat ion 4.5 Screenshot o f Wishl is t ' s A n i m a t i o n W h i l e us ing animat ion certainly resolved some issues o f representation, we were still left w i t h the difficult task o f editing interviews. T h i s process invo lved l istening, (re)interpreting, and deciding w h i c h por t ions o f people 's interviews to use i n the final v ideo . I n mos t cases, this meant that a 20-minute 25 in terview was reduced to a few words , w h i c h were then loosely categorized in to either the "basic needs" o r " c o m m u n i t y space" sect ions. 3 4 O n c e again, we tried to mitigate this by wr i t i ng d o w n the ideas that were cut f rom the audio track, and incorpora t ing these concepts i n the final animat ion. T h i s ensured that every person interviewed was represented i n the f i lm and guarded against potent ia l feelings o f d i sempowerment o r disappointment . Wishlist's Production: Process, Politics, and Product T h r o u g h o u t this chapter I have referred to the stylistic and aesthetic decisions made by the Wish l i s t p r o d u c t i o n team as decisions that " w e " collectively made. W h i l e it is essential to acknowledge that whi le Wish l i s t potential ly empowers its viewers, it is equally crucial that the f i lmmak ing process be equitable and just, serving to empower those i nvo lved i n the fi lm's p roduc t ion . A n y analysis o f social justice i n relation to v ideo needs to include a discussion about h o w group dynamics inf luenced the f i lmmaking process, pol i t ics , and the f inal p roduc t . 3 5 Process A s previously ment ioned , the Wish l i s t p roduc t ion team consisted o f three p lanning students (myself, Ian Marcuse , and E l a n a Cossover) and one at-3 4 It is also important to note that these categories were developed by the Wishlist team, and that interviewees did not describe which categories they thought their ideas fitted into. 35 Please note that the fol lowing discussion about group dynamics stems only f rom my own observations, and is therefore a highly subjective account o f the f i lmmaking process. 26 risk you th ( A p r i l Cur ry) . T h e p roduc t ion teams were fo rmed after an early m o r n i n g bra ins torming session, where group facilitators asked us to stand by our favorite b ra ins torming words and concepts. I and two other p l ann ing students gravitated towards a p o e m that A p r i l (after some encouragement f r o m me and another student) had wri t ten. H e r p o e m was about a city emerging f r o m a forest, and had p r o m p t e d a lot o f discussion about wha t an alternative greenway might l o o k l i k e . 3 6 O n c e the groups were formed, we were asked to bra ins torm further and present our ideas to the wider group. W e were then given unt i l our next meet ing to develop a treatment for our f i l m . 3 7 T h e treatment process was interesting because two o f the p lann ing student group members were absent. A p r i l and I were therefore responsible for co-deve lop ing the ini t ia l concept for the f i lm. U p o n the return o f the other two p l ann ing students, we quickly set up a p roduc t ion p lan and then met regularly for at least four days each week, un t i l the comple t ion o f the project, two m o n t h s later. Politics G r o u p poli t ics and dec is ion-making strategies invar iably affect any final v ideo product . I n the case o f W i s h l i s t group poli t ics played a cri t ical role i n b o t h direct ing the film's content and empower ing the f i lmmakers . 37 A treatment is a one-page document that pitches your film to a production company. This original treatment is included in the Appendix #1. 27 V. Wishlist's early group politics were affected by the overrepresentation o f planning students in the production team. Being acutely conscious o f issues o f voice, the planning students were frequently deferential to A p r i l during the first two weeks o f concept development. This deference was exacerbated by our film being inspired by a poem that A p r i l had written. Additionally, one of the planning students in our group had worked as a social worker in the D T E S for many years and felt it was their role to teach and support the group's at-risk youth representative. While continual deference is rarely beneficial, I feel that this initial deference helped to give A p r i l a sense o f confidence in her own decisions. In fact, A p r i l in later conversations told me that she was frightened at first to voice her opinion because she thought that we were so highly educated, but then she realized that she was just as intelligent as the rest o f us!3 8 This initial deference abated as soon as we began to understand the talents each o f us brought to the project. A p r i l and myself, as the only group members with previous video experience, became the creative and technical side o f the team, while Ian and Elana naturally fell into the process side o f the production. Additionally, because Ian (40) and Elana (32) were both 38 W h a t is in teres t ing a b o u t this c o n v e r s a t i o n is that at the e n d o f the p r o j e c t , m a n y o f the at-r isk y o u t h expressed a s t r o n g des ire to r e t u r n to s c h o o l , a n d A p r i l was d e t e r m i n e d to b e c o m e a m i d w i f e . F o r m o r e eva lua t ion o f the project ' s benef i ts , please see H u n t , A . (2007) M A P projec t , H o w P a r t i c i p a t o r y . H o w P r o d u c t i v e ? A Ref lec t ive E v a l u a t i o n o f the C a r r a l l Street P a r t i c i p a t o r y V i d e o P r o j e c t , a n d M a r c u s e , I. (2006) M A P p r o j e c t , W i s h l i s t : M e a n i n g f u l P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the C a r r a l l Street G r e e n w a y P l a n t h r o u g h P a r t i c i p a t o r y V i d e o . 28 considerably older than A p r i l (21) and myself (22), A p r i l and I often found ourselves relating better to each other than to the older members o f the group. This also helped to overcome the 'planning student' and 'at-risk youth' categories within which we were initially operating. Despite this division o f talents, tasks, and ages, the Wishlist team used consensus-based decision-making for all production issues, including editing. This model meant that everyone in the group needed to understand, and agree with, what was being proposed. O n several occasions, this led to very lengthy discussions that always involved trade-offs and compromises among the group members. One such debate was about the overall tone of the film. One planning student felt that we were making an overly optimistic piece and that we needed to be more critical o f the city's plans for the Greenway. The result was that we typed up and then printed off all o f the recorded interviews. Together, the team spent two days cutting and categorizing people's quotations, before agreeing, based on the transcripts, that we really didn't have enough overt critique in the interviews to make it them an integral part o f the film's narrative. While lengthy, this process allowed us all to step back from our own positions on the Greenway, and consider what-our actual content looked like, before making any decisions. 29 Product W h i l e consensus-based dec i s ion-making he lped us to overcome the experience / inexperience divide w i t h regard to v ideo skills, we also made one significant dec is ion to mitigate this p r o b l e m . Because we were operat ing w i t h i n a very short time frame, it was clear that I w o u l d have to do mos t o f the editing. T h i s posed a p rob l em because part o f the f i lm's purpose was to train those i n v o l v e d i n v ideo-making skills. W h i l e we had collaborat ively shot the interviews and edited together o n paper, the three other group members w o u l d be miss ing out o n the oppor tuni ty to acquire v ideo-edi t ing skills. T o compensate, we agreed to use s top -mot ion animat ion , rather than F l a sh an imat ion (a process that allows y o u to digitally animate a fi lm). W h i l e I edited the f i lm f rom Projection's office, A p r i l , Ian , and E l a n a , i n a time-consuming process, manual ly altered each animated frame for the fi lm's two sequences. T h e result, I w o u l d argue, is an aesthetic that is m u c h more i n tune w i t h the fi lm's tone: rather than appearing overly technical , Wish l i s t appears to be dr iven by col laborat ion. I n spite o f ini t ial power imbalances, Wishl i s t ' s process was overwhelmingly collaborative, based o n the consensus dec i s ion-making m o d e l . It was m y impress ion that every group member felt empowered to speak their o w n m i n d , as we openly (and sometimes painstakingly) discussed everyissue . Add i t i ona l l y , because fundamental decisions a round the ski l l s -bui ld ing 30 c o m p o n e n t to the project were made early o n , each group member wa lked away w i t h a broader f i lmmaking ski l l set. T h i s chapter has argued that whi le v ideo can be a powerfu l t oo l for fostering dialogue, issues o f accessibility, representation, and censorship need to be carefully considered at a project 's outset. Wish l i s t has s h o w n that i n order to make an inclusive f i lm that fosters dialogue, a f i lm's style and aesthetics need to be dr iven by the mult iple ways o f k n o w i n g that exist i n the community(ies) . 31 From Dialoguing to Appropriating W h a t do y o u see? D o e s it always have to be that way? A s a Utopian f i lm , Wish l i s t urges people to c la im their rights to participation and appropr ia t ion through engaging them i n a dialogue based o n imaginat ively reinterpreting the present. Wishlist as Utopia Wish l i s t opens up a space for dialogue by conf ron t ing feelings o f powerlessness and invis ibi l i ty often expressed by D T E S residents. Wish l i s t demands the imposs ib le as a way o f real izing all that migh t be, creating a space for new possibilities whi le urging the viewer to add her o w n voice to the assemblage o f voices (At t i l i , 2007). I n asking the latent quest ion, " W h a t w o u l d you put o n Carral l Street?", Wish l i s t confronts people's fears o f powerlessness (Lefebvre, 1996). T h i s confronta t ion is crucial to c la iming the right to participate i n and to appropriate the city; we can only truly inhabi t the city once we are able to believe that things can change. H o p e means bel ieving that the imposs ib le is possible, despite all evidence to the contrary, and this very act makes the evidence change, as L o e b (2004) has demonstrated, historically. 32 Wish l i s t fosters this hope through using an imat ion to imagine wha t an appropr ia ted Carra l l Street w o u l d l o o k l ike. Wishlist: Imagining Spatial Appropriation T h r o u g h its imagined street appropriat ions, Wish l i s t establishes a dialogue based o n the right to actively inhabi t the city. W e are alienated f rom our u rban environments w h e n we cannot see ourselves reflected i n them. T h e m o v e m e n t f rom fear to hope therefore begins w i t h imagin ing that we have the right to physically alter the spaces o f the city so that they respond to our needs, desires, and identities ( Y o u n g , 1990). Wish l i s t t ransforms Carral l Street in to a place where people 's meanings are validated, projected, and transmitted to others (Leach, 2005). F o r D T E S residents v i e w i n g the f i lm , they may hear ( through the sound o f a shopping cart o n the street), o r see ( through their art appearing i n an an imat ion sequence) parts aspects o f their lives reflected i n the space. These validations and transformations are cri t ical to init iat ing a dialogue over w h o has the right to appropriate space. F o r M a r x i s t cultural cri t ic Wal te r Ben jamin , appropr ia t ion occurs b o t h through use and by percept ion (Benjamin, 1968). 3 9 Wish l i s t engages overt ly i n appropr ia t ion by percept ion; w h e n people v i ew the f i lm, they 39 W a l t e r B e n j a m i n , assoc ia ted w i t h the F r a n k f u r t S c h o o l , is a key f igure i n social , cu l tura l , a n d l i terary c r i d c i s m . H i s T h e W o r k o f A r t i n the A g e o f M e c h a n i c a l R e p r o d u c t i o n (1936). w i t h its analysis o f art a n d its aura, is c o n s i d e r e d to be an early f o r m o f s emio t i c analysis a n d has i n f l u e n c e d m a n y cu l tura l theorists . 33 enter in to a dialogue w i t h others over the mul t i tude o f possible uses, (and users) o f the street. F o r D T E S residents, the establishment o f this dialogue is crucial for changing h o w the D T E S is perceived. A s one resident states i n the film, "the frustrating part for me is that the D T E S is no t recognized for what it is, a v ibrant , artistic c o m m u n i t y " . Wish l i s t therefore plays an impor tan t role i n L e m p o w e r i n g residents, whi le simultaneously t ransforming people 's narratives to include a broader unders tanding o f the interplay a m o n g space, place, and identity (Harvey, 1973). T h i s comprehens ion is crucial for advancing the right to the city, as it opens up a f o rum for discussions based o n the rights to par t ic ipat ion and appropr ia t ion (Dikec , 2001). Wishlist's Vision for Inhabiting the City W i s h l i s t grounds spatial appropr ia t ion i n a v i s i o n o f inhabi t ing the city based o n a pol i t ics o f mul t ip l ic i ty . T h i s f raming is crucial to the f i lm, as insights and revelations come not f r o m recording and t ransmit t ing stories, but f rom weav ing them together (Gurs te in , 2007). O n Wishl i s t ' s Car ra l l Street, social groups intermingle whi le resist ing homogen iza t ion , embrac ing the differences o f o p i n i o n and unders tanding that are consti tut ive o f city life ( Y o u n g , 1990). O n this imagined street, ideas for change ( " I th ink there should be an area for play, where chi ldren and adults can interact, l ike a fair that's always happening, where the mul t icul tura l , m u l t i interests can be expressed ") are juxtaposed w i t h 34 demands for leaving things as is ("Honest ly, I ' d just leave it the way it is. I l ike it. It's real"). Because Wish l i s t is a compi l a t ion o f over lapp ing images, ideas, and soundscapes, it demands that the viewer engage w i t h the f i lm as an active listener and mediator . T h e result is that Wish l i s t a l lows the v iewer to m o v e f rom an ind iv idua l analysis o f place to a collective, pol i t ica l ly charged crit ique o f space, thereby rendering the act o f v iewing a h ighly pol i t ica l one (Harvey, 1973) . 4 0 Wishlist's Politics There are n o inevitabilities i n this w o r l d . . . there are always responses, resistances, attempts at shaping and reshaping the historical forces that impinge o n our lives (Fr iedmann, 2000 p . 461). W h e n we use our imaginat ions , we are playfully engaging i n appropriat ions that are often deeply pol i t ical . I n creating W i s h l i s t the p roduc t ion team was keenly aware that direct ac t ion c o u l d be one o f the film's outcomes. Because the Carra l l Street redesign process was already w e l l underway (discussed i n chapter 6), we decided that Wishl i s t ' s potent ia l was i n asserting a v i s i o n that d id not so m u c h depend o n m o b i l i z i n g to address or respond to the current pol i t ica l regime, but rather depended o n individuals and 4 0 D a v i d H a r v e y , i n Soc ia l J u s d c e a n d the C i t y , d e v e l o p s the idea o f the g e o g r a p h i c a l i m a g i n a t i o n . H e argues that n o g e o g r a p h y is i so lated f r o m the social , po l i t i ca l , a n d e c o n o m i c • histories w i t h i n its l a n d s c a p e ( H a r v e y , 1973). 35 social groups m o b i l i z i n g for their right to appropriate space i n spite o f po l i t i ca l power . A s one resident i n the f i lm argues: " U s i n g that space i n a p roduc t ive way, social izing there, we can take something that we d idn ' t really ask for and turn it into a c o m m u n i t y bu i ld ing t o o l " . I n other words , the Carra l l Street redesign process c o u l d act as a catalyst for mult iple forms o f (re)appropriation. B y spatially appropr ia t ing Carra l l Street through percept ion , Wish l i s t establishes the context i n w h i c h such a physical (re)appropriation cou ld occur . W i s h l i s t is therefore less o f a ' W i s h L i s t ' for C i ty o f V a n c o u v e r planners, and m o r e o f a do-i t -yourself ( D I Y ) ' W i s h L i s t ' for current and future users o f Carra l l Street. 4 1 T h i s chapter has argued that Wishl is t , as a Utopian f i lm, empowers D T E S residents to imagine h o w their acts o f par t ic ipat ion and appropriation might affect Car ra l l Street. Re ly ing o n animation, Wish l i s t challenges b o t h D T E S residents' and non-residents ' perceptions o f Carra l l Street, thereby init iat ing a dialogue over w h o has rights to the city. T h i s dialogue describes the possibilities for the creation o f a more diverse Carra l l Street based o n the principles o f D I Y , or (in Lefebvre 's language), appropriation. T h e idea for the title o f the film c a m e f r o m o n e g r o u p m e m b e r , w h o l i k e d the idea o f n a m i n g the film W i s h l i s t because the film, unl ike so m a n y p l a n n i n g processes , d e m a n d s that res idents see themse lves (rather t h a n the State) as agents o f change . 36 Evaluating T h e preceding chapters have examined h o w Wish l i s t fosters the r ight to inhabi t the city by engaging people i n a dialogue over their rights to par t ic ipat ion and appropr ia t ion. T h i s last chapter moves away f rom this discussion to evaluate Wish l i s t for its applicability, recept ion, inst i tut ional integration, and relevance as a p l ann ing too l . Applicability W h e n I have had the oppor tuni ty to screen Wish l i s t to city planners and c o m m u n i t y organizers, the quest ion I am asked first concerns the fi lm's applicabil i ty to wider social and geographical contexts . 4 2 M y first inst inct is to answer that it does not matter; that broader applicabili ty was no t the purpose o f the f i lm. Af t e r further considerat ion, I usually explain that because the film is relatively short (just over 5 minutes i n length: an i m p o s e d project constraint) , i t does not conta in the necessary space to frame Carra l l Streets' social , geographic, or pol i t ica l context . 4 3 T h e reason for this is because Wish l i s t was never intended to be screened separately f rom the other Par t ic ipatory V i d e o project films, and that 'package' o f films includes a ten-minute process piece 4 2 A s wi l l be d i scussed fur ther i n this chapter , I have on ly h a d the o p p o r t u n i t y to s c r e e n the film o n a l i m i t e d n u m b e r o f o c c a s i o n s . I h a v e b e e n present for o n l y six screenings , three o f w h i c h were for a p l a n n i n g audience . 4 3 T h e film does n o t e v e n m e n d o n that C a r r a l l Street is l oca ted i n V a n c o u v e r . 37 that contextualizes all three films. W i t h o u t establishment o f the relevant context , it has been difficult for some people to see h o w they cou ld use a • similar f i lm i n their w o r k . H o w e v e r , others have suggested that the fi lm's aesthetic and narrative characteristics c o u l d be applied to different p l ann ing contexts. I have two m a i n comments regarding applicability. Fi rs t , I w o u l d argue that many o f the ideas expressed by D T E S residents are relevant to communi t ies i n other cities: the desire for safe dr ink ing water, emergency pay phones , and even farmers markets are all i tems that mos t people w o u l d want to have access to i n their ne ighborhoods , a l though, o f course, each ne ighbou rhood has its unique and context-specific needs. T h e second and m o r e impor tan t quest ion is whether Wish l i s t ' s approach, its aesthetic.and narrative choices, are artistic and pol i t ica l strategies w i t h wider apphcabili ty. T h e two preceding chapters suggest that they are. T h e real challenge, however , is related to scale. F o r a large ne ighbourhood , or city, can such v ideo -mak ing pr inciples be applied? A n d what w o u l d be the cost impl ica t ions o f such an expanded scale o f engagement? It was beyond the scope o f this research to This is a point which was much debated amongst the participatory video group: many o f us felt that it was important to be able to screen the films separately, but organizers emphasized that this would undermine the collaborative nature o f the project. I f Wishlist were to be screened separately, it would be quite easy to put some text at the beginning o f the f i lm to explain the overall context in which the fi lm is set. 38 answer these questions, but they remain impor tan t for future research o n v ideo , social justice, and the city. Reception T h e success.of a f i lm is often gauged by the audience's reaction. F o r fi lms l ike Wish l i s t . in tended to p romote dialogue, people's responses are crucial to evaluating their effectiveness. D u e to circumstances described later i n this chapter, Wish l i s t has been screened on ly o n a few occasions and only once i n the D T E S . T h e Part ic ipatory V i d e o g roup screened prel iminary versions o f all three fi lms at the Interurban Gal lery , located at the intersection o f Carra l l Street and Has t ings Street i n the D T E S . Participants f rom all three fi lms were inv i t ed to attend and were asked for their feedback. Wish l i s t was s h o w n last and, unl ike the other two fi lms, was met w i t h some degree o f apprehension. A few residents expressed conce rn that this v ideo , unl ike its predecessors, was uncr i t ica l o f the CarralTStreet G r e e n w a y redesign, and seemed to accept gentr if icat ion as a fait a c c o m p l i . 4 5 W h a t this react ion underscored for us was that Wish l i s t successfully challenged residents' narratives o f place, power , and agency. Instead o f 'preaching to the conver ted ' by focusing o n the negative actions o f city planners and developers, Wish l i s t seriously challenged residents 4 5 W h i l e this was the sentiment expressed by three vocal residents, it is unclear whether everyone who attended the screening shared their opinion. Several other members o f the audience approached me afterwards and expressed their happiness with the piece. Clearly, screenings in the future need to be facilitated in order to generate a variety o f responses. 39 to m o v e b e y o n d their anger and to imagine that they had the p o w e r to affect the street. Essential ly, W i s h l i s t caused such a stir because it had successfully urged people to m o v e away f r o m their fear o f displacement towards the hope that they c o u l d change Car ra l l Street. W i s h l i s t has also been screened to n o n - D T E S residents. 4 6 T h e first react ion amongst non-residents is to ask about the logistics o f under taking an imat ion; mos t people are curious about the process and often express that they believe an imat ion c o u l d be used i n their o w n projects. A t one screening, audience members began to b ra ins torm about the different spaces i n V a n c o u v e r that cou ld be used for a sequel (they finally settled o n the V a n c o u v e r A r t Ga l le ry steps). 4 7 T h i s react ion shows that the f i lm is successful i n gett ing people to imagine h o w they can appropriate their o w n spaces. N o n -D T E S residents also c o m m o n l y express surprise w h e n they f ind out that the articulate, educated voices i n the f i lm be long to D T E S residents. T h i s react ion usually instigates a conversa t ion over people 's misconcept ions and stereotyping o f the D T E S . T h i s react ion is another ind ica t ion that Wish l i s t is a successful d ia loguing too l . T h e f i l m has b e e n screened at the W o r l d U r b a n F o r u m , the W o r l d P l a n n e r s C o n g r e s s , P l a n n e r s for T o m o r r o w , D O X A , a n d at c o m m u n i t y consu l ta t ions . 4 7 T h i s c o m m e n t is in teres t ing because the A r t G a l l e r y u s e d to be V a n c o u v e r ' s c o u r t h o u s e , a n d was tradi t ional ly the p lace for po l i t i ca l protes ts . 40 Institutional Integration Patsy Healey argues that imagina t ion needs to be coupled w i t h p roper inst i tut ional analysis i n order to b r ing about change i n the publ ic realm (Healey, 2001). I n the case o f Wishl is t . several p rob lems occur red w i t h the video 's d isseminat ion that significantly hampered its ability to be used as a d ia loguing too l . It is impor tan t to underscore that many o f the p rob lems per ta ining to Wishl i s t ' s d isseminat ion are p rob lems frequently experienced w h e n people attempt to use v ideo as a p l ann ing too l . T h e first issue for us was one o f project timing. T h e C S P V P began w h e n the C i ty o f V a n c o u v e r was w r a p p i n g up the pub l ic outreach c o m p o n e n t o f the Carra l l Street redesign. I n a meet ing w i t h a senior p lanner at the C i ty o f V a n c o u v e r , we were in fo rmed that the physical design o f the street had already been decided and therefore, our videos c o u l d on ly have a m i n i m a l impac t o n the street's design. W h i l e it was suggested du r ing this meet ing that the videos cou ld potential ly contribute to the p r o g r a m m i n g o f the space, there was n o fo rmal agreement between the C i t y o f V a n c o u v e r and the Carra l l Street Par t ic ipatory V i d e o group. Consequent ly , there was n o structured venue i n w h i c h to screen Wishl i s t . 41 T h e second p rob l em was one o f flawed c o m m u n i c a t i o n between the Carra l l Street Participator) ' V i d e o group and the C i t y o f V a n c o u v e r . 4 8 A s already ment ioned , Wish l i s t was one o f three films p roduced about the Greenway. U p o n project comple t ion , some o f the staff o f the P l ann ing Depa r tmen t w i t h i n the Ci ty o f V a n c o u v e r deemed one o f the other fi lms to be controvers ia l and inappropriate. I n response to their concern , the S c h o o l o f C o m m u n i t y and Regiona l P lann ing , Project ions, E a r to the G r o u n d P l ann ing , and staff o f the P l a n n i n g Depar tmen t o f the Ci ty o f V a n c o u v e r agreed that none o f the films w o u l d be publ ic ly screened or dis tr ibuted unt i l the controversy was resolved. Unfor tunate ly , this decis ion meant that Wish l i s t cou ld no t be used to i n f o r m the last part o f the G r e e n w a y p lann ing process. Patsy Healey explains that w h e n we critically imagine, we enter in to new dialogues about governance and dec is ion-making (Healey, 2001). T h e Wish l i s t story to ld i n this thesis has s h o w n that wi thout p roper inst i tut ional buy- in , this dialogue can never get started. It is therefore crucial that future v ideo projects negotiate opportuni t ies for engagement w i t h p lann ing and governance insti tutions at the outset o f the project. It is beyond the scope of this thesis to detail this miscommunicadon. It is acknowledged, however, that this type of misunderstanding can have political and social consequences, surrounding issues of freedom of speech, on the one hand, and the need to negotiate viewpoints, on the other. 42 Relevance T h e experience o f Wish l i s t suggests that, i n the p roper context, v ideo can serve as a power fu l t o o l for s t imulat ing conversat ion over people's rights to inhabi t the city. D T E S residents are often unable (or unwil l ing) to engage w i t h inst i tut ionally d r iven pub l ic meetings, w o r k s h o p s , design charrettes, and c o u n c i l reports. V i d e o , as a visual m e d i u m , offered them a different way to engage i n an inclusive and locally based discuss ion over their rights to the city. Commun i ty -based videos such as Wish l i s t have the potent ia l to serve as an a p r io r i po l i cy document , i n w h i c h discussions about changes to publ ic space can occur i n the publ ic d o m a i n , wi thout people having to f o r m interest g roups . 4 9 T o this end, c o m m u n i t y con t ro l over the m e d i u m and its d isseminat ion is crucial i n ensuring its legitimacy and applicabil i ty (Gurs te in , 2007). Issues o f representation and censorship need to be carefully considered i n a project's scop ing and venues for disseminat ion need to be conf i rmed at the project 's outset. W h i l e there is great potent ial for mul t imedia to influence po l icy and p r o m o t e c o m m u n i t y development , v ideo is on ly one o f the many tools at the d isposa l o f city planners, communi ty organizers, and residents (Sandercock, 2007). Because v ideo has come in to fashion as a way o f disseminating 4 9 Y o u n g (1990:73) explains how the formation o f interest groups depoliticizes public debate. 43 i n f o r m a t i o n and ideas, there is a tendency for it to be seen as a panacea for diff icult p l ann ing contexts. I t is crucial that v ideo be approached f rom a cri t ical s tandpoint and, l ike other p lann ing tools, be tailored to different c o m m u n i t y contexts. Research conclusions T h i s thesis has argued that the right to the city originates w i t h the right to imagine part icipat ing i n its creation. V i d e o , as demonstrated by Wishl i s t . has the potent ia l to catalyze this right to par t ic ipat ion. Wish l i s t establishes a dialogue based on Utopian imagin ing and visual appropriation, thereby cont r ibu t ing to the struggle for social justice. 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(1981) Metropolitan Reform in the Capitalist City. Canadian Journal o f Political Science. 14 (3), September pp.557-585. Marcuse, I. (2006) Wishlist: Meaningful Participation in the Carrall Street Greenway Plan Through Participatory Video. Masters Project, University of British Columbia. • Massey, D . (1991) The Political Place o f Locality Studies. Environment and Planning A . 23 (2) June, pp.267-281. Merrifield, A . ed. (1996) The Urbanization of Injustice. London , Lawrence & Wishart. Mitchell , D . (2003) The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space. N e w York , Guilford Press. Mouffe, C. (2005) O n the Political. N e w York , Routledge. National Charrette Institute. (2007) Charrette [Internet], What is a Charrette? Available from: <http://www.charretteinstitute.org/charrette.html> [Accessed 4 September 2007]. Newman, J . (2005) A n Overview of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for the U B C Learning Exchange T R E K Program Participants. Research Report. Vancouver, University o f British Columbia Learning Exchange. 49 Pendras, M . (2002) F rom Local Consciousness to Global Change: Asserting Power at the Local Scale. International Journal o f Urban and Regional Research. 26 (4) December, pp.823-833. Perrons, D . & Skyers, S. (2003) Empowerment through Participation? Conceptual Explorations and a Case Study. International Journal o f Urban and Regional Research. 27 (2) June, pp.265-285. P I V O T Legal Society. (2007) P I V O T Legal Society Website [Internet]. Vancouver, Available from: <http://www.pivotlegal.org/Issues/addictions.htm> [Accessed 4 June 2007]. Purcell, M . (2002) Excavating Lefebvre: The Right to the City and its Urban Politics o f the Inhabitant. Geojournal. 58 (2) October, pp.99-108. Rawls, J . (1971) A Theory o f Justice. Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University Press. Sandercock, L . (2007) Multimedia and Planning: Introduction. Planning Theory and Practice. 8 (1), March pp.89-90 Sandercock, L . 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Ethics. 99 (2) January, pp. 250-274. 51 Appendices Appendix A Wishlist: Visual Treatment Part 1: 45 Seconds Starts with a forest that merges into photos of Vancouver 'becoming;. Vancouver as a growth city. The Forest disappears and felled trees replace it, followed by photos o f Vancouver as it grows through the decades. This sequence increases in cutting as time elapses, leading towards a montage of highrise construction on new development happening in Vancouver,(30 seconds) and wil l end on a static time elapse camera shot taken from above on a Carrall Street intersection (15 seconds). This section will be narrated by Jeff Sommers, a Strathcona resident who has been heavily involved in researching the story of Vancouver as a City of Capital accumulation; He will speak about how Vancouver projects have been driven by capital; this will serve to frame the following film segments against the drive for Vancouver to perpetually grow and develop through money; beautifying the city for economic investment. Through the transition from highrise development to Carrall Street static shot, have voices begin to emerge about what people would imagine on the street. Part 2: Transect 1: (location TBA) Starts with the camera moving along through a section o f Carrall Street. This movement ends on a still frame o f the Street. Imaginings as told to us through interviews and music/performances by people in the community overlay the camera movement. Part 3: Still Image Animation 1: (location TBA) The still image that is frozen slowly becomes overlaid with other images, created through clay, painting, collage, using stop motion photography. As the animation continues, the faded pan o f the street wil l begin again, and the animation wil l slowly fade and we are once again brought into the streetscape. 52 People's imaginings (community gardens, bakeries, art) and people's contributions to this (ie; photographs, art) are overlaid on the image as they speak about them. Part 4: Transect 2 (Location TBA) The Streetscape pan continues, and then freezes. Imaginings as told to us through interviews and music/performances by people in the community overlay the camera movement. Part 5: Still Image Animation 2: (Location TBA) The still image that is frozen slowly becomes overlaid with other images, created through clay, painting, collage, using stop motion photography. People's imaginings (community gardens, bakeries, art) and people's contributions to this (ie; photographs, art) are overlaid on the image as they speak about them. Part 6: End and Credits The still image freezes and then fades into shots taken o f the street, o f people walking, busking, resting. Included in this are shots o f the people we interviewed, walking, (smiling?). Eventually, the transparency increases, and credits come in , possibly going with images of the people we have interviewed. Interviews conducted about public space, process, and vitality in the city overlay the images. 53 Appendix C Supplementary Materials: Wishlist D V D 


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