Week 5

Every person have the equal right to access the public space. 

Back to the days when I was in Shanghai about 6 years ago, I often see those Yangge dancer every morning when I go to the park. The music was quite loud, and they occupied a big space in the park which blocked the path.

I would say that Yangge is a good activity for those people, because most of the Yange dancers are retired and in their mid 60s’. Yange is an opportunity for them to make new friends and it is good for their health. During the night, there are also some elder disco dancer gathering in the park, and playing the loud music which disturbed the neighborhood.

When Caroline talks about the ‘dancing rights’ in her article ‘Dancing in the streets of Beijing’, I’ve learnt that some Yangge dancers have to travel to the farthest park from their home to find a dancing space, yet some people are experiencing the memory problems and are disabled. 

I’m really worried. 

However, it seems there’s no way dancing without disturbing the neighborhood except travelling to a rural neighborhood since Yangge involves loud and drumming music. 

Where is our public space?

What is the function of the public space?  To me, I think it creates a chance to let people have interaction with each other, in general, to have fun. Yet I think nowadays the public space is a place focused more on ‘selling’ the city rather than let people have fun.

The public space, in my opinion should be a place create a chance to gather citizens together, in general, to let people have fun and make life easier. But the reality is the public space is actually a reflection of the city, therefore, the public space is kind of platform to present the city’s issues. So government wants the public space to be nice and organized in order to ‘sell’ this city to tourist.

I personally really like Hou’s article, he links these issues with the specific and famous examples such as the Shilin Night Market. ‘Across the pacific, in the Shilin Night Market in Taipei, one of the largest and most popular evening markets in the city, illegal vendors find ways every night to escape police apparatus, and temporary storage sites so that, when the policemen approach the market from a distance, they can easily detect them, signal each other, disappear in a matter of seconds, and then converge again once the cops go away.’  (Hou, p.11) Although I haven’t get a chance to visit Taiwan, I heard Shilin night market thousands of times from TV drama. My Taiwanese friends also keep telling me how amazing that place is.  But still, it is a illegal night market. I remember there was a huge night market near where I live when I was in Shanghai, I went there almost every single night at 7:30 p.m, and come back with a small bag of jewelry at 9:00 p.m. I admit it looks messy on the streets with the street vendors, but on the other hand, the street vendors create another form of entertainment to the citizens. This is the most natural way the city should look like, getting rid of the street vendors make me feel that the city becomes ‘ artificial’.



Hou, J. 2010. (Not) your everyday public space. Insurgent Public Space, 1-11.

Valverde, M. 2012. Putting Diversity on the Menu in Everyday Law on the Street. United States: University of Chicago Press, 141-164.

This messy

“Streets with cars bikes, pedestrians, and transit all mixed together; store displays spilling out onto the sidewalk, competing with street vendors for your attention; utility poles covered with posters and walls painted with graffiti; and buildings in a jumble of architectural styles beside and on top of one another” (Reid, p.18. 2010)

I was curious what kind of people would love toronto when I first came to this city, it is a huge contradiction from vancouver where I had lived during the past four years. The streets are slippery during the snow, the condo buildings are short of water on a regular basis, crazy climate… I preferred the slow paced life-style that I could walk along the seaside every afternoon. I enjoyed to live in a smaller city where everything is organized and beautiful. Toronto is humongous to me, I felt breathless and pressured walking among the high rises. The people on the street are walking at a fast speed like they are almost running, everything is messy, you can see different kinds of people on the  same street, homeless, middle class, creative class…The ‘glass giants’ sprout out from the great-grandpa time’s houses…

My perspective of Toronto changes a bit that after one year living here, I found this city is extremely convenient for me.  I can walk to eaton center after class, have lunch with my friends in a restaurant nearby, then walk back to school for the afternoon class without a car or any kinds of transportation. My high school social teacher described the Canadian cities as ‘Mosaic’ because it lets everything keep its original identity, yet it is still a nice picture to look at. There’s always something in Toronto amazes me that I can never find in Vancouver. Bahan Center is a typical example, it is the computer science building in U of T, it’s a hybrid building with glasses and old houses, a new way to balance this city. People let those historian houses keep in another way and give it a new life.

I don’t know how to describe my feeling towards this huge city, it’s very complicated and messed up.  I like its energetic that every single person works hard , but I don’t like the fact that they are working so hard for their living that they don’t have much time to enjoy their life. I could strongly feel the difference between Vancouverian and Torontorian. Vancouverian greats the strangers warmly on the streets, they generously gives change to the homeless, they even spend 15 minutes to walk you to the right street when you are getting lost. Torontorian doesn’t wait you for the elevator, there’s always only several cents in the homeless’ cup, they barely smile to strangers…All I could say is the people reflect their city, you can’t judge the people.


Reference : Kingwell, M. 2008. Toronto:Justice Denied. The Walrus, February. Online

Reid, D. 2010. Bless this mess. Spacing (Summer), 18-23. Course Website.

Gap, Gap, Gap

To be honest,I know nothing about the word ‘Neoliberisim’ before I google this word. ‘Rich grow richer, poor grow poorer’ is the central idea of neoliberism. It seems to be a side-product of capitalism. In general , neoliberism is bad.  It is understandable that everyone wants to make their life better, everyone wants to be rich, logically, under the ‘free market’ of neoliberism, the corporations with strong background are the one who benefit most. Think about Apple, how much do they pay their sales associate? The part-time salary in Ontario is higher, around $12 / hour, in BC? $10.25/hour. And how much is iPad, iPhone, Macbook…?

Walks highlighted his article by starting with ‘Canadian cities are at crossroad’, which I strongly agree , we are at a very unbalanced point, the gap between the rich and poor is HUGE!  ‘At its heart, neoliberalism is a political project with utopian overtones that seeks to restructure welfare states and reinstate class power (see Harvey 2005, 2007; Hackworth 2007; Peck 2008).’ (Walks, P.346.  2009) According to Walks, the neoliberalism was meant to be good, meant to have a ‘utopian overtone’. It turns out to be a evil policy which is a treat for the rich and a torture for the poor.

Before I start this course, everything in the society seems very peaceful and balanced to me. The words in my mind are always ‘eating’, ‘studying’, ‘shopping’, ‘have fun’. I never noticed those graffiti on the wall, those people yelling around eaton center…Now it seems like i am a well-protected girl under my parents. As I read more readings for the course, and through the discussion during the course, those graffiti and people just suddenly jumped into my mind. I could strongly feel their pain, their anger under the pressure and torture the society given to them.  When I first came to toronto, I asked one of my friend in toronto. “CN tower is an icon of toronto, why it looks so…old?” He told me that people will just complain that the government are using their money to do the useless stuff if they repaint the CN tower. The relationship between the government and its people is intense.

Through Zimmerman’s description of the life of those ‘cool creative class’, makes a huge contradiction to the poor. They are cool, they could enjoy a $5 Starbucks twice a day while there’s people get less than 2 cups of coffee as their pay per hour. What do you think the part-time worker would feel? I know it, I worked before for a company as a part-time during the summer, I worked very hard during that time: replenished the products, do the stock, flat the boxes, garbage run, take care of the customer, do the demo, even fix the light bulb! And what did our district manager do? She just comes to the store and comment why our sales are so low today, then left. Everyone was working hard in the store, and everyone was so pissed every time  the DM came  and comment. The creative class in the city makes other people feel bad, sorry i couldn’t find a better word to describe this feeling. They are cool, they are on the top of the pyramid, no matter how they expoilt their worker, they will still work for them, because other people has to pay their rent, their food and their insurance.

Gap, huge gap.



Walks, A. 2009. The urban in fragile, uncertain, neoliberal times: towards new geographies of social justice? The Canadian Geographer, 53 (3), 345-356.

Zimmerman, J. 2008. From brew town to cool town: Neoliberalism and the creative city development strategy in Milwaukee. Cities, 25, 230-242.

week one main:Whose fault?

Everyone has the right to enjoy their life in their city, but the life seems to be not so enjoyable when the reality hits them.

“The rich grow richer and the poor get poorer through the egalitarianism of exchange. No wonder those of wealth and power support such rights. Class divisions widen. Cities become more ghettoized as the rich seal themselves off for protection while the poor become ghettoized by default.”(Harvey, p.431. 2003) While the rich people throwing away their food, there’s still a group of people suffering from hunger. I admit the people have the higher education level carry more professional ability and knowledge, it is reasonable they deserve to have higher chance than others.

There’s one kid born in Europe, another in africa. Who do you think would have better chance in the future? The european kid could definitely get the financial support from his family in the future when he goes to college, so as he grown up, he could easily become a middle-class, if he works harder, he would stand on top of the pyramid. But how about the african kid? He might be striking his whole lifetime for food.

It is an unequal competition, but whose fault?

I am scared of the way our society looks like today. Even if some employer mark them self ‘equal opportunity’, they still care about sexual orientation, race, disability…

Zukin(1995) introduced us the idea that the definition of public spaces changes. ‘The force of order have retreated into “small urban spaces,” like privately managed public parks that can be refashioned to project an image of civility.’ (Zukin, P.357. 1995) The city is not the way we want it to be, it is what the creative class, the rich people makes it to be. Zukin’s argument reminds me of the construction in front of Wellesley subway station, i’m not quite familiar with toronto, so I think that place used to be a park, and now that land is being purchased by a corporation and they might want to build another condo building there. There’s people painting the huge words on the fence around that area all in upper case letter: ‘WE WANT A PARK’, ‘KA-CHING’ , I can’t clearly remember, but it’s something like that. I could feel their anger and sadness…There’s too many high-rises like thousands of needles sticking on the heart of toronto. The poor are forced to move to the rural place because they can’t afford their living in downtown anymore. Not only toronto, but many other ‘high-end’ cities in the world like hongkong, new york, and miami are facing this issue. The tourist only see the good part of the city, but how many people feel the anger of those poor people who used to live in downtown but are forced to move to the rural place due to the ‘development’???!!!

That’s why the gap between each group is growing continuously. How would the gap look like after 50 years?

Whose fault?


Reference: Harvey, D. 2013. The Right to the City. The Urban Sociology Reader, Lin, J. and Mele C. (eds), New York: Routledge, 429-432.

Zimmerman, J. 2008. From brew town to cool town: Neoliberalism and the creative city development strategy in Milwaukee. Cities, 25, 230-242.