Toronto Inspires when neigbours choose to (re)claim public spaces.
Post shared by Lynda Chubak
For more than a decade, through my home-office window, I’ve watched the bustle taking place within the chain-linked encased tennis courts belonging to a Toronto high school. Designed with a phys-ed program in mind, the four courts have been supplemented with regulation basketball hoops making them noisy, ball-thumping, teenage-trash-talking zones a few times a week during school hours. On pleasant days, at lunch or after school, the courts might also see some action. These are the designated times when the “permitted” users of these tax-funded facilities are welcome. After hours, the “others” are locked out.
Funnily, the restricted-access courts are most populated during weekends. Trikes, training wheels and parents running alongside tippy cyclists abound. Frequent street hockey games ensue as a net dragged into the courts is left for weeks on end. Dogs freed of their leashes chase after balls. Clusters of neighbours with young families casually chat, while their kids safely burn off some energy.
Normally law-abiding citizens have snipped and crumpled back the barrier to reclaim this community resource. Over the years, whenever the fence’s surreptitious opening is repaired, community members eventually cut their way back into what they feel is their right to public space.
For a thought-provoking examination of fences as physical and psychological barriers, visit Offence/Defence. The art exhibition, on until November 30, is a dynamic examination of our relationship with fences and their demarcation of the territory between “us” or “them”. These complex ideas are presented in the abstract through works that are easily relatable to everyday experience, yet simultaneously provide a variegated analytic framework from which we can (re)consider our own relationships with and responses to barriers.