[URBAN NOTE] "Parks as natural places for engagement across difference"
Spacing's Jake Tobin Garrett has an interview with Jay Pitter looking at how parks can be critical bits of public space, especially in a multicultural community.
Jake Tobin Garrett: The vision of the organization you work for, the Inspirit Foundation, is to create a more inclusive and pluralist Canada where differences are valued and engaged. How do you see that vision relating to parks and public spaces?
Jay Pitter: In addition to acknowledging and addressing systemic inequities, we believe that encouraging an inclusive and pluralist Canada is predicated on encouraging people to engage each other across difference. The public realm plays a large role in that. The Inspirit Foundation supports many projects that leverage the public realm to bring people together to address issues that are paramount within their local context.
For instance, we funded an Edmonton-based project called iHuman. The project provides supports for Indigenous youth, many of whom are street-involved, to engage with the broader community in the public realm. Last year they hosted a block party and there were performances and workshops led by Indigenous youth who are street-involved engaging the wider community. What’s really exciting about this project is it really recast Indigenous youth who are experiencing homelessness from being a vulnerable to powerful. The project demonstrates their capacity not just their struggles; the public realm plays an integral role in amplifying this respectful approach to youth engagement and addressing systemic exclusion.