The GWRUP was conceived as an action knowledge base able to raise crucial questions about the city’s urban, economic, political, environmental, social and artistic development, as well as to stimulate debate and production of critical cultural knowledge through the growth of new local associations between citizens, artists, activists, designers, grassroots groups, and local cultural, educational, political and social institutions. Together with the assistance of local and international researchers, different applications of scientific and participatory action research were used as tools for gathering in-depth knowledge about Guelph, its surroundings, and most importantly about the social relations that compose the ecology of the city. A number of activities were organized to extract, translate and produce local knowledge for, with and by citizens from various neighborhoods and diverse social and economic backgrounds. The research topics identified in these sessions revealed critical local issues such as, the downtown’s densification process, the lack of affordable housing, the living condition of migrant seasonal workers, the continuation of Guelph’s pioneering incursion in cooperativism and the controversies around food politics and the environment. In order to construct a relational understanding of the conditions that influence Guelph’s growth, through a broad transdisciplinary mediation of different forms of scientific and action research, the GWRUP developed its operative framework assembling methodologies that could give an insight of the connecting threads between the macro and micro conditioners, from the macroeconomic directions of Canada in relation to labor, agriculture and infrastructure, to the micro shifts in vacancy rates in a downtown block or the emerging food justice groups around town. These approach allowed the GWRUP to integrate academic understandings with popular knowledge and wisdom belonging to the people and the grassroots.
The research is structured by three interrelated research areas that comprise a number of sections that at the same time relate with and feed each other; (1) Local and global environmental, cultural, political, social and economic processes, (2) The political economy of food systems, and (3) Politics of space: social exclusion and inclusion through housing and urban development.
The GWRUP Gazette was conceived as a dissemination tool by members of Cohabitation Strategies. It was a bi-weekly publication aiming to share the knowledge produced during the research process in the Guelph-Wellington region. In addition, this publication sought to engage citizens and local groups in the research process and discussion sessions. The issues contained evidence of the advances in terms of content during the previous two weeks; evidence of activities happening in the context of the program; and commentary on the current issues impacting the Guelph-Wellington region and Canada in general.
The length of each issue went from 12 to 16 pages in A4 format. Printed gazettes were distributed in different strategic locations within the Guelph-Wellington area, and virtual gazettes (pdf format) were distributed through CohStra’s project website. The Gazette distribution network include: 10 Carden, Arrow Archive (zine archive), Brant Avenue Neighborhood Group, Bungalow 55 (Elora), CFRU (University radio), Cornerstone Café, Dis-A-Ray, ED Video/40 Baker St., Guelph Public Library (Main and satellite branches), Mount Forest Public Library (Mount Forest), Onward Willow Better Beginnings Better Futures, OPIRG, Out of the Shelf (LGBTQ resource center), The Peak, Planet Bean Coffeeshop, Red Brick Café, The Square Social Center, With the Grain, Woolwich Arrows Pub. These are the names of the gazettes indicating some of the research topics part of the Guelph-Wellington Rural-Urban Program:
Gazette 1: This is not Guelph
Gazette 2: Center-Periphery Exclusion-Inclusion in Guelph
Gazette 3: This is not Kanada
Gazette 4: Housing: Can a right be bought and/or sold?
Gazette 5: This is Guelph.
This project was founded by Musagetes Foundation, as part of the cultural and civic program 2012, and supported by the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD), University of Guelph, and the City of Guelph. EXTERNAL COLLABORATORS: Lise Burcher, Joshua Gilbert, Gayle Goldstone, James Gordon, Matthias Görlich, Ryan Hayhurst, Elizabeth Nowatschin, and Marjetica Potrc. COHABITATION STRATEGIES’ COLLABORATORS: Lucia Babina, Guillermo Delgado Castaneda, Emiliano Gandolfi, Angel Lara, Thomas Purcell, Gabriela Rendon, and Miguel Robles Duran.