Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis




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posted April 23, 2014

The Centre for Local Research into Public Space

(CELOS: pronounced "see-loss.")

We picked that acronym because we wanted it to sound like CIDOC, the "research by people" institute of our friend, historian and philosopher Ivan Illich, which existed in Mexico in the 1960's and 70's.

Started in 2000, CELOS was incorporated as a non-profit on Sept.21 2005. In July 2009, CELOS was registered as a charity with Canada Revenue: 82118 9149 RR0001.

Its objects from 2005 until charitable registration:

1. To conduct both practical and theoretical research on issues concerning parks and public commons.

2. To build a library of resource materials for, researchers, governments, and particularly members of the public who are interested in structuring parks/ public commons so that they contribute to the enjoyment of their communities.

3.To provide a forum at Dufferin Grove Park and elsewhere where people can come together to discuss issues relating to parks and public commons.

Its restated objects from July 24 2009:

1. To conduct and disseminate research on the use of neighbourhood public parks and other public commons areas;

2. To establish and operate a resource library to enable members of the public to deepen their knowledge about the use of neighbourhood public parks and other public commons areas; and

3. To undertake activities ancillary and incidental to the attainment of the aforementioned charitable objects.

CELOS Board members: Jane Price (president), Mary Jane Young (secretary), Lily Weston, Lea Ambros (treasurer).

Who works for CELOS?

CELOS has only contracts, no full-time staff at all. Jutta Mason is the administrator. CELOS researchers are mainly from the local community, including some part-time Recreation staff when they are not booked to work for the City.

What does CELOS do?

1. For 22 years, CELOS worked directly with staff at Dufferin Grove Park, Campbell Park, MacGregor Park, and Wallace Rink to run a kind of lab, an ongoing experiment in what works and what doesn't, in shaping a "community centre without walls." CELOS collaborated in the development of all the food operations (campfires, bake ovens, summer wading pool food carts, zamboni snack bar, Friday Night Supper at Dufferin Grove, Saturday Night Supper at Campbell Rink, and the Farmers' Market). Since there was an excess of income over expenditure despite the low food costs, CELOS helped put those funds to use, to experiment with park programs such as tree watering, skate lending, playground enhancement, campfires, infrastructure (e.g. the addition of the cob courtyard but not, sadly, the bio-toilet), safety measures such as additional eyes on the park, gardening, etc. In 2011, CELOS began moving the things that work well over to total city control. Ideally this would have resulted in a new kind of partnership, but that didn't happen.

To find out how it worked, when it worked: see Dufferin Grove Park as a neighbourhood commons, 1993 to 2015

2. CELOS also works with other groups at other parks and public spaces.

3. CELOS undertakes follow-up and research on issues arising out of people's use of parks and public spaces.

The research work of CELOS extends beyond Dufferin Grove into other parks and other public commons in Toronto neighbourhoods. CELOS looks at the public commons from underneath, reporting on the details of the everyday and encouraging public conversations.

CELOS has some teachers and guides.

Ivan Illich, for example a chapter called "Research by People" beginning on p.75 in Illich's book Shadow Work

Nils Christie, with his essay Conflicts as Property

Wendell Berry, for example this essay called Think Little

Jane Jacobs, for example this summary by Nate Storring, called Jane Jacobs' ten big ideas.

Elinor Ostrom, ten principles for governance of the commons.

Susan Witt, on Jane Jacobs' friendship with the Schumacher Centre.

Joe and Stephanie Mancini of the Working Centre in Kitchener, for example see their book Transition to Common Work.

Frederik van Oudenhaven and Jamila Haider, because of their five-year project documenting community and the commons in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and how they structured their book With Our Own Hands

Websites we also run: dufferinpark.ca, cityrinks.ca, publicbakeovens.ca, publiccommons.ca

Content last modified on December 08, 2023, at 05:39 PM EST