Coleman: Thinking about Neighbourhoods and Localism

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Dan Jelly/Used with Permission

Hamilton, Ontario looking west from Upper Stoney Creek.

This column was first published in The Public Record’s newsletter. Get our content and columns before they appear on our website by subscribing to our newsletter edition.

I’ve been thinking alot about our we define our communities and localisms this past week. Wednesday morning, I was interviewed by a fourth year McMaster ArtSci student who is writing her thesis about the Beasley neighbourhood, one of her questions was how many places have you lived in your life? I’m don’t have an exact count, but my unstable childhood and being in foster care did give me an advantage of living at some point in every ward in Hamilton except the new 12 and 15.

The student asked me which neighbourhood in Hamilton I would say I’m from; my answer was the East End around Glendale Secondary because that’s where I went to high school and made the first stable friends of my life. I could’ve said Gibson, Congress, Central, or Lisgar/Berrisfield, I didn’t even live in Corman as a child (the official name of the neighbourhood Glendale is located).

In journalism and politics, we talk about neighbourhoods as rigid lines on maps. However, we don’t live our lives in easily drawn lives, we live our lives with people, we talk about experiences, both of which happen to occur in places. In my case, I define home by the people I’m friends with.

In 2015, I wrote an often cited column How to Define Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Boundaries and Localisms: East, West, North, South, Upper and Lower?,

Now, only three years later, the piece is outdated in some areas because of the substantial growth in grassroots engagement.

What has changed in the past three years?

I noted on Twitter the increased neighbourhood cohesion in Rolston and ‘neighbourhood Facebook groups’ as examples. The responses to this were informative, I didn’t know that residents of Bruleville call their neighbourhood Birdland, and am interested in learning how you perceive your neighbourhood. This is today’s newsletter subscribers only Facebook discussion topic, I will use your feedback to inform my updated series of articles on Hamilton’s neighbourhoods and localisms.

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