Montréal, Québec, Canada, and Portland, Oregon, USA both lie at 45.5 degrees north, but are worlds apart in so many ways that hardly seem mentioning they're so obvious... population size, housing density and architecture, predominant language and cultures, climate, blah blah blah. When it comes to similarities, however, the two cities share more than the same line of latitude: both cities are progressive bastions where eco-sensibilities run high, bikes reign supreme, great music and beer floweth freely, denizens and their municipal governments take celebrating the summer through numerous outdoor festivals very seriously, ubiquitous hipster beards harken back to the fur-trapper roots shared by both cities, and so on.
But more to the point, both cities are home to vibrant urban agriculture (UA) scenes. Both cities engaged public participation to envision new UA policy and planning over the past few years, and gardens of all kinds, whether city block-sized community gardens or a small planter box in the backyard, are everywhere. And UA, as in so many places, is deeply entangled in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in both cities.
As we go, we're focusing on how particular initiatives relate to the city, to planning and policy, to the surrounding community, and to neighborhood change. Engaging with debates surrounding post-politics and participatory planning, the PSU students and I will tackle the following research questions this fall in a workshop, as we reflect on and analyze what we've seen: How have processes of citizen participation shaped UA policy and planning in Montreal and Portland? What were the key areas of contention in the recent processes, were they overcome, and if so, how? To what extent have these policy changes impacted practice on the ground?