Monday, 4 November 2013

HARBORD VILLAGE PROJECT: ENTRY # 4

LANEWAYS IN HARBORD VILLAGE

BY: BRIAN JOE

     Mapping Harbord Village: Stories of a Neighbourhood is an exhibition currently under development by the Harbord Village Resident’s Association (HVRA) and the University of Toronto Master of Museum Studies program. This exhibition deals with community memory viewed through three basic concepts: porch life, laneways, and foodscapes. In order to understand these concepts in context, the Planning and Promotions team, Adrienne Costantino and Brian Joe, explored the neighbourhood as it stands today. This in situ exploration has broadened our understanding of what kinds of memory and development we are dealing with, while highlighting the need to deal with urban evolution alongside community memory. Prior to this exploration, exhibition development has mainly been done in a second-hand way. It has become apparent that in order to tell stories of the neighbourhood, we must take into account its current status. How has Harbord Village changed, and what do those changes mean with regards to our key theme of community memory.


      Urban evolution is an implied theme of Mapping Harbord Village. We have yet to explicitly speak on this theme, but much of our development has dealt with memory over time. The HVRA has collected oral histories from longtime village residents. Not all interviewees currently live in the neighbourhood, but they must have lived there for an extended period of time between 1920 and 1970. The exhibition has not been developed to serve as an epitaph to the neighbourhood, rather, we have taken a living history approach the stories we tell. As such, it is important to develop an understanding of the village in its current time and place; who lives there now, and how has the HVRA shaped the story they want to tell?


      One of the HVRA’s significant projects has been adding street signs and naming laneways. As laneways are a focus in our exhibition, it is important to understand current attitudes towards these long-standing, public, neighbourhood spaces. It is without question that these spaces have changed overtime; urban evolution and gentrification happens, and the neighbourhood reflects this. As we explored the village laneways, both named and unnamed, and were able to contextualize our thoughts in reality. These are stories of a living neighbourhood, and it was important, and enlightening to visit the community as it currently stands.

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