Last week was not a good one to be living in the “in-between city”, the term urbanists use to describe areas wedged between the outer suburbs – with their sprawling residential neighbourhoods – and the downtown core of office towers, condos and cultural institutions, wrote Simon Black, a graduate student in the City Institute at York University, in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star May 14 that referred to several current news stories about the Jane-Finch community:
In Toronto, the in-between city roughly corresponds to the postwar suburbs, or inner suburbs, that grew with the booming economy of the 1950s and ’60s. As urban researchers have observed, their highrises, diverse immigrant populations and lower-than-average incomes are the stuff of the inner city; but their bungalows, strip malls and wide roads are quintessentially suburban.
But all is not despair: the in-between city is a city of activists, concerned parents, urban entrepreneurs and young leaders. Independent media outlets like www.jane-finch.com cover community issues and give young people a voice that they don’t have in the mainstream media.
Groups such as the Black Action Defence Committee are engaged in gang exit, youth employment and leadership development programs. Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty, the St. Alban’s Boys & Girls Club, and youth drop-in SPOTEND are all working around issues of social justice, effectively mitigating the marginalization experienced by their community.
Across Toronto, in neighbourhoods like Jane-Finch, hundreds of community organizations work tirelessly on issues of transit justice, tenant rights and food security, sometimes with the help of the city through initiatives like the Neighbourhood Action Plan and Youth Challenge Fund, and often on shoestring budgets.
Such efforts give residents of the in-between city hope. Hope that one day their lives will not include the drama of police raids, struggling schools, low wages and long commutes. Hope that governments at all levels will recognize the need for a comprehensive urban agenda that combats social exclusion and addresses the needs of the in-between city.
Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.