The Projects Project, pt.2

Posted on February 23rd, 2010 10 great comments. Room for one more!

…continued from previous part.

The “trial by fire”, as my manager put it, continues. This is the eighth straight day of 12-hours-per-day, no-breaks keyboard bashing and code-slinging. Sheer exhaustion set in about two days ago. The deadline looms, I get it — I just better get a few days off after this is all over!

In the meantime, however, the small pocket of wit I had stored at the back of my brain was used up about four days ago. I hope you bear with me through this challenging time, dear reader. It’s hard enough to just string a sentence together let alone something coherent. At least there are some photos to fill in the gibberish!

Plus, thankfully, Regent Park has a history that I can regurgitate to pretend like I’m saying something meaningful :) For example, after a little digging around I learned that Regent Park was considered a slum in the heart of Cabbagetown well before it was destined for the projects. In other words, I don’t think the buildings necessarily made it what it is. But I don’t think they helped.

There, didn’t that sound meaningful? Haha … I can’t even tell anymore!

Anystars, the northern part of Regent Park was built in the early fifties, the southern nearly a decade later. Apparently the guy who designed the southern towers won an award. From the air, I guess, they’re nicely arranged. On the ground though, they just don’t seem terribly people-friendly.

south regent park, shuter street, community public housing, apartments, flats, toronto, city, life

Oh don’t get me wrong, the place has “fascinating history” written all over it, even if that history isn’t necessarily all happy. Why the heck else would I go there? I already have enough crack at home.

There are some unusual aspects to the place that give it a little more fat around the jowl; you know — character. It is, after all, easy to dismiss it as that place you avoid at night, but that’s way too simplistic.

south regent park, community housing project, shuter street, toronto, city, life

The majority of Regent Park is composed of mostly poor Asian people who’ve been living there for decades, most of them with kids. The predominant ethnic group is Chinese. Which pretty much proves that the Chinese are troublemakers. But if you don’t buy that, it at least shows that the problems that Regent Park has aren’t necessarily caused by one group or another.

I mean, I’ve traveled enough to know that the “cultural differences” excuse for violence / etc. is utter bullshit, but I also have an appreciation of some of the hardships that immigrants have to go through. Been there, done some of that. Not too much, mind you, but enough that I’m not totally talking out my ass.

south regent park, shuter street, community housing project, toronto, city, life

All of this might be a bit of a moot point, though. As I’d mentioned earlier, Regent Park is slowly being replaced with modern condos … affordable but *definitely* nicer than what’s in the area now. While I’m sure that living in a nice place has never stopped people who want to engage in un-neighbourly conduct, I think it tends to make the rest of the community stand up to protect what they have. When what they have consist of squalid buildings (and rentals to boot), I don’t think it’s surprising that people really don’t care. I’m sure I wouldn’t.

Also, Regent Park was sold as a transitional community — people were supposed to have just lived there temporarily while they established themselves in Canada. Seems that established part, however, didn’t really happen for most of them. It’s been suggested that this is because rent there is based on income — a sort of pay-what-you-can system — so people just got comfortable (i.e. lazy). But looking at the demographics, this just doesn’t seem right. I don’t think it’s unbelievable that some people may genuinely be stuck in a cycle of poverty, and I doubt that they’d want that for their kids. Hell, we pay enough in fees and taxes that most of us are probably flirting with the soup kitchen ourselves.

south regent park, community housing project, shuter street, toronto, city, life

Guess we all have our troubles. At the moment, mine is trying to stave off nervous exhaustion; that tick in my eyelid is really getting out of hand. But, soon, I’ll be spending days sleeping in (I’d better!), and enjoying a respectable paycheque. Not everyone can say that.

Concluded in the “photo essay”…

10 Comments on “ The Projects Project, pt.2 ”

  • wngl
    February 24th, 2010 8:35 am

    Great images. Something about thoughtful grafitti in the urban grunge gives it a special beauty.

    Sounds like they've been working you like crazy, man. Hang in there!

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  • Patrick
    February 24th, 2010 8:20 pm

    Thanks, wngl. Doing my best to stay afloat. And yes, I agree, the graffiti has a lot more meaning here. I mean, I do like graffiti as an art, if it's done well, but it's also excellent when it has a heartfelt message. Sometimes the art is a bit clumsy, but it's a whole lot better than tags … that's just narcissistic.

  • Kato
    February 24th, 2010 2:52 pm

    Once again, another post thathad me riveted. I love learning about all this stuff, and your pictures truly capture the essence of the place.

    Awesome, and I am pulling for you to get some sleep!

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  • Patrick
    February 24th, 2010 8:22 pm

    Thanks, Kato :) Looks like I'm in the zone to get eight hours tonight and maybe just fit in the laundry. Tomorrow, it's on to client review fixes. I can already feel my goiter hurting.

  • RE - Entrepod
    February 24th, 2010 7:18 pm

    The Problem with poverty is that no one wants to help eradicate it. we all talk about how bad it is, yet we never put our foot down and demand that legislators do something about measuring and reducing it.

    the key is to tie poverty goals to measurement of income for growth of pensions, taxes and growth stats for counselors, mp and others who so called make the rules. if they don't make people's lives better; then theirs should get worse.

    don't you think that would be incentive for them to start really addressing the root of the problem; instead of putting up pretty condos to try to hide it ? you see dear, gentrification is a very bad thing, regardless of which face it comes in.

    the fact is simple, poor people are poor because no one elses income or lifestyle is effected by it.

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  • Patrick
    February 24th, 2010 8:41 pm

    That, BadGal, is a fantastic suggestion. Tie income to salary. And I agree that they really should be looking into the problem, but unfortunately, they're not. I don't think they can actually call it politics if they're not actually politic. If it doesn't benefit them, they don't care. I think that the movement will have to be genuinely grass-roots. Naturally rise up from the disaffected people. There are groups like OCAP that claim to be this, but I think they've grown a little too large and organized to be effective anymore. They seem more intent on banging their drums and waving placards than getting their hands dirty.

    And about the gentrification, the household incomes stats show that most of these people won't be able to afford the condos being built. Plus, the fact is that there will be less subsidized housing. Some people will have no choice but to disperse to other poor neighbourhoods in the GTA. But I must apologize for not also pointing out that they're building replacement Ontario housing. Basically renewing the area — still nothing fancy, but spruce it up with brand new structures. The plans for them looked pretty nice, and the rent would be geared to income exactly as the current dwellings are. So it won't be a total exodus, and if I had to play the devil's advocate (arguing for a politician), I might suggest that construction doesn't pay for itself, so some commercial concessions had to be made. Perhaps not so many, but that's probably for another day.

    I just don't see it as being a total catastrophe, especially considering how badly City Hall can fuck up sometimes.

  • Desertboots
    February 27th, 2011 6:02 pm

    loving that you posted all of this and I gots to represent my hood! ; )I love coming from this area and the people it raises. Everyone sees things their own way but I love knowing that I have most of what I need within me whether or not I got more or less from my community/the city.

    I too love the grafitti and the colours; the danger it might bring…not so much! ;)

    three cheers to my peeps and to you for posting such great shots, Mr. P.


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  • Patrick
    February 28th, 2011 8:48 am

    Under the grime it's a very colourful neighbourhood, Desertboots!

  • Sake
    April 2nd, 2011 10:00 am

    Amazing! I lived in Regent for all my life (still do) and half of the pictures here no longer exist in real life!

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  • Patrick
    April 6th, 2011 11:04 am

    Part of the reason I like to keep a record, Sake ;)

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