Staking out territory

District-based organizing in Toronto, Canada

Keywords: Organizing, neighbourhood, district, working-class, tenant, displacement

Capital’s renewed drive to profit from real estate has precipitated the multiplication of organizing initiatives around tenancy. In Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, social dislocation results from, among other conditions, the consolidation of rental housing by firms and investors pursuing a strategy of “repositioning”. In this conversation, Ashleigh Doherty and Cole Webber, members of Parkdale Organize, discuss how, more than any particular organizing method, political principles have guided their interventions. Neither tenant union nor activist network, neither political party nor social agency, Parkdale Organize is a group of militant working-class people whose aim is to facilitate independent organizations of struggle within a specific territory. Members adhere to a set of principles which compel them to intervene in struggles of daily life as they affect working-class people in their area. To date these struggles have included fights against evictions and rent increases, support for labour strikes, and campaigns to defend neighbourhood services.

Cole Webber has been a legal aid worker in Parkdale for the past decade. He is a member of Parkdale Organize who is on Twitter @colefwebber

Ashleigh Doherty has been a member of Parkdale Organize since it began 7 years ago. She is a tenant in a Metcap building in Parkdale and teaches at a neighbourhood public school.

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