Friday, September 12, 2008

Exploring North Central's Borders

The project that I am developing is to investigate an area of Regina known as North Central. This urban location has been identified and stigmatized as "Canada's Worst Neighborhood" by Jonathan Gatehouse's article written for MacLean's magazine, January 15, 2007. It created a furor in the city with descriptions of "frightening" social and economic conditions in this area he geographically describes as: "153 blocks, 153 back alleys, sandwiched in between the CN and CP rail tracks". (J. Gatehouse, MacLeans Magazine, Jan., 15, 2007). The general theme of Gatehouse's article addresses social problems such as poor housing conditions, crime, gang warfare, drugs and alcohol addictions, prostitution, to name a few.

I plan to set out to artistically respond to the perceived sociological and economic boundaries attached to North Central through a series of investigative, interactive and performative events. My focus is not to sensationalize the "urban fright" of the area, nor to sugar-coat the reality that there are sociological issues to be addressed. Rather, I intend to investigate what North Central means to the residents within the area, and those who live elsewhere, threading together information that will inform my questions and thoughts around the demographic boundaries pertaining to the north central area. Ultimately, I wish to humanize the location and begin to reintegrate the concept of North Central as an integral and important part of the city. Rather than creating a boundary around North Central and condemning it through sensationalist media, or ignoring it all together, it is the responsibility of Regina's community as a whole to build an understanding of what is happening and change our thinking and approach to the issues of those borders, whether geographical or stigmatized, whether from a personal perspective, or a community view, or addressing social environments or racial issues as expressed in "Wihtikow City".

My first plan of action entails a video-based project in which I will interview members of the North Central community, gathering as much experiential information and feedback about the area that I can. I anticipate that I will receive a great diversity in responses. I say this because there are variables and diversity in every community by nature. The video investigation will also include the opinions of those living outside the North Central boundaries. It is integral to the project to gather a wide range of responses as possible in order to broaden the scope of my research.

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