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Welcome to the eighth DIVERCITIES newsletter. Launched in March 2013, DIVERCITIES brings together seventeen accomplished partners to collaborate on a four-year research project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The main objective of DIVERCITIES is to examine how diversity can foster social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in European cities.

5th International Consortium Meeting
24-26 June 2015
Leipzig, Germany

The fifth international consortium meeting was hosted by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ in Leipzig, Germany. The three day meeting was attended by the principal and junior researchers of the 17 partners and project staff.

Junior researchers met on Wednesday 24 June. The session was mostly devoted to Work Package 6: Fieldwork Inhabitants with partners discussing the process of writing, problems encountered and their experiences in the morning followed by a focus on empirical analysis and report content in the afternoon. Talk turned to the role of diversity at the neighbourhood level on social cohesion and social mobility with partners presenting key findings in relation to the emerging themes. The final part of the meeting was devoted to Work Package 7: Fieldwork Entrepreneurs with researchers discussing ways to increase cooperation and collaboration between junior researchers. The day concluded with all researchers meeting for the first of two field trips into the German research districts, the Inner East of Leipzig.

All partners and researchers participated in the meetings that took place on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 February. Thomas Maloutas and Nicos Souliotis chaired sessions where researchers presented results from Work Package 6: Fieldwork Inhabitants on Thursday morning. The afternoon was devoted to Work Package 7: Fieldwork Entrepreneurs with Ayda Eryadin discussing plans in a session chaired by Tuna Taşan-Kok. The meeting closed with Mike Raco discussing publications before everyone set off for the second field trip, this time to Grünau.

Apartment block in Grünau.

Lead researchers met for the General Assembly meeting first thing Friday morning, with all researchers present for three insightful Masterclass presentations from Yuri Kazepov, Tiit Tammaru and Kadri Leetmaa chaired by Annegret Haase. All three masterclasses can be seen on YouTube. The remaining agenda items included plans for the final conference, the upcoming series of city books, communication and plans for the next consortium meeting.

Photos from the fifth consortium meeting in Leipzig can be viewed on our website:
https://www.urbandivercities.eu/multimedia/photos/

The next international consortium meeting is scheduled for 8-10 February 2016 in Milan, Italy and will be hosted by the University of Urbino.

YOUNG DIVERCITIES Seminar in Utrecht

On 5 and 6 November 2015 Utrecht University (Ronald van Kempen and Gideon Bolt) and the University of Birmingham (Peter Kraftl) will host the YOUNG DIVERCITIES seminar, Encountering and Living with Hyper-Diversity: Young People’s Urban Experiences. The seminar will take place in Utrecht and will cover theoretical discussions on hyper-diversity and young people’s experiences utilising empirical studies concerning these issues in cities. Three keynote speakers (Prof. Gill Valentine, University of Sheffield; Prof. Peter Hopkins, Newcastle University and Prof. Sirpa Tani, University of Helsinki) will present papers on crucial theoretical issues. Other participants will present theoretical papers and empirical studies on specific city regions. The seminar brings together DIVERCITIES researchers and researchers in the field of youth studies and children’s geographies. Seminar highlights will be reported on in the next newsletter.

Interview: Countering Negative Stereotypes in Jane and Finch

Fieldwork Entrepreneur Paul Nguyen on his neighbourhood

Paul Nguyen is the founder of Jane-Finch.com, a website set up in 2004 which counters negative stereotypes attached to the Jane and Finch neighbourhood. For his work, he has received numerous awards at the local, provincial and national level, including the Canadian Ethnic Media Association Award, the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for fighting stereotypes and acting as a role model and mentor for at-risk youth in his community. Paul was interviewed on the topic of diversity and entrepreneurship and has been very supportive of the fieldwork in Work Package 7 of the DIVERCITIES project.
Can you give some information about yourself and the reasons why you set up Jane-Finch.com? 

I was born in Toronto in 1980. My parents are Vietnamese Boat People who escaped the Vietnam War and arrived in Canada in 1980. During that time a lot of Vietnamese came to Canada and settled in Toronto. We moved to the Jane and Finch area because there were a lot of immigrants and housing was affordable. I grew up there, went to high school and then attended York University. I started my own website because Jane and Finch is known as a bad neighbourhood with crime, poverty, and violence. All you hear is usually about the “bad guys”, but my upbringing was pretty normal and safe, like a typical Canadian childhood. I played street hockey and we celebrated things that are Canadian, like Christmas. It was just normal. So I was tired of the bad reputation and wanted to show the positive sides of Jane and Finch.

How did the website evolve during the years?  

It was basically one webpage and in the beginning I just made rap videos for my friends; our roots are founded in hip hop and gangster rap. It’s kind of like the art for the voiceless because the website gave a voice to people who never really got any attention. One of our rap videos went viral – and that was at a time before social media – so it was on national news and people paid a lot of attention to the website. A lot of people said that I can do more instead of making rap videos. They encouraged me to engage the community, so it slowly evolved. A lot of people see me as an activist, and if you want to give me a label, then I would consider myself an ‘accidental activist’ because it wasn’t my goal to be one. However, eventually I saw the power in this tool to help other people in the neighbourhood. A lot of them do not have a lot of opportunities, so they can use the website as a platform to be heard.

Do you think the diversity in the neighbourhood is beneficial for entrepreneurship?

There is definitely a bad reputation and a lot of stereotypes attached to Jane and Finch. I mean there are things here like a high immigrant population with lower income and educational levels than elsewhere. There are a lot of social and financial problems. But I think it helps young people when they start to wake up and realise that they can harness diversity as a positive aspect, when they realise that diversity is actually a strength for their career or gives them more experience for what they are doing. And when you are navigating in the community, you are dealing with all kinds of people from different backgrounds and income levels, so you apply that understanding in business. It is different from growing up in a small town where all you know is one type of people. Understanding different cultures and how they think helps you navigate among people better.

What are the challenges for entrepreneurs in Jane-Finch?

There is a lack of resources which means that people in Jane and Finch cannot always get opportunities as everyone else can. If your parents are never home and are working two jobs, or if you are working and going to school, you don’t really have that extra time to explore and grow. Or if you are coming to Jane and Finch as a newcomer, you don’t know anybody and your parents have no accumulated wealth because they are basically starting from scratch. There is a hierarchy of needs and people are often just focussing on surviving and paying rent. However, I think because there is such a great need and desire, people learn how to be resourceful which is very beneficial. I set up my website with no money and social media and YouTube is free. So you can use those free tools available and still get your message out there without having your family to fund your project. Overall, I think there are a lot of talented people in Jane and Finch who just need opportunities and a platform to get their ideas across.

Meet Our New Junior Researchers

What are your expectations of the DIVERCITIES project?

Sara Özoǧul, Delft University of Technology (TUDelft)
I am happy to be part of the DIVERCITIES project. Personally, I expect to learn a great deal,  especially in light of the thousands of people searching for refuge. I hope to make a small contribution to a more positive approach to diversity and difference in Europe.

 

 

Dimitris Balampanidis, EKKE (Athens)
Through my participation in the DIVERCITIES project, I seek to develop a deep understanding of the multiple effects of diversity on urban life, namely the positive challenges but also the complexities it may include. Additionally, I expect the DIVERCTIES project to widely communicate the results of the research to all “agents” of urban change, from people who live, work and spend their free time in the neighborhoods of the city to people who draw up urban policies and make decisions. This would partially help both bottom-up and top-down initiatives to develop, interact and be more effective with the aim of social cohesion and better living conditions in our more and more diverse cities.

Ryan Jepson, University of Vienna
I think that DIVERCITIES is a timely opportunity to contribute to a platform which is concerned with exploring and better understanding the challenges and potential for urban diversity supported by collaborative and interdisciplinary investigation in a pan-European setting. Combining the spheres of governance and policy with perceptions and practices ‘in the neighbourhood’ can be instructive in revealing pathways towards differential space as proposed by Henri Lefebvre. I look forward to exchanging and cooperating with all partners and researchers involved.

Open Access

All our reports are now available on Zenodo, an open-access science repository created by OpenAIRE and CERN, and supported by the European Commission.

Go to: www.zenodo.org and search for “DIVERCITIES” to find our full list of publications.

Contact

Project Coordinator:
Prof. Ronald van Kempen
Utrecht University
Faculty of Geosciences
P.O. Box 80.115
3508 TC Utrecht
Netherlands

Email:         info@urbandivercities.eu
Website:     www.urbandivercities.eu
Twitter:       twitter.com/divercities_eu
Facebook:   facebook.com/urbandivercities
Linkedin:      linkedin.com/company/divercities
YouTube:    youtube.com/user/DIVERCITIES

Consortium Partners & Advisory Board

Lead Partner:
University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Consortium Partners:
University of Vienna, Austria
University of Antwerp, Belgium
Aalborg University, Denmark
University of Tartu, Estonia
University Paris-Est Créteil, France
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany
Fachhochschule Erfurt, Germany
National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), Greece
University of Szeged, Hungary
University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Delft University of Technology (TUDelft), Netherlands
Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
synergo Mobility-Politics-Space GmbH, Switzerland
Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey
University College London, United Kingdom

Advisory Board:
Jan Vranken, University of Antwerp, Belgium
David Hulchanski, University of Toronto, Canada

© DIVERCITIES, Utrecht University, 2015

LEGAL NOTICE: The views expressed in this newsletter are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

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