The Master's Tools? Communities retaking local government and repurposing official planning rhetoric

This first part of this panel explores the theory and tactics used to navigate
the contradictory logic of `revitalization without displacement'
and divert a conventional economic planning project toward anti-
gentrification ends. The presentation will exhibit the strategy,
process, and results of a `revitalization plan' prepared for two
Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in one of downtown
Toronto's last non-gentrified neighbourhoods. In preparing this
plan, we were asked to work within the structure of revitalization
planning for business-oriented clients: a limit placed on our
potential actions that is representative of the barriers progressive
planners face. However, within the contradictions inherent in
promoting economic upgrading while encouraging inclusivity, we
found that ambiguities in the language used by all local groups
(`diversity', `inclusivity', etc.) provided room to reclaim that
language for progressive ends.

This work is relevant to both activists and planners who work at
the urban level because of its focus on reclaiming language that is
often used as empty promises by agents of gentrification. By giving
these words meaning and using them to make space for those who
might otherwise be left out of the decision-making process,
barriers to progressive action can be circumvented.

The second part of this panel looks at the ways
in which the indigenous community in Ecuador has organized to "re-
take" several cities in the northern part of the country. The
presentation would consider how activists have organized around class
and ethnic lines to win elections and then to transform their
municipal governments into entities that actually work to address the
problems caused by centuries of marginalization and oppression.