In the second segment of their five-part series called “Save The City”, local arts collaborative Broken City Lab have tackled the task of designating some local “Sites of Apology” and “Sites of Hope”. The idea is simple- asking the public what locations in Windsor they feel have let them down, as well as those places that we feel proud of, and then giving these sites the recognition they deserve.
At last month’s “Listen To The City” event, the first in this series, Windsorites gathered at the Phog Lounge to chat about the city. Conversations ranged from comeback stories to international student opinions and attitudes of the population in general. All of our stories were recorded, and BCL will soon release a compilation of the discussions on their website, as well as contributing a copy of it to the Windsor City Archives.
On Sunday, a handful of Windsorites visited the BCL crew at the EcoHouse near the university (part of the Green Corridor Project). On the wall were blank sheets of paper, one with the heading “Sites of Hope” and another reading “Sites of Apology”. The floor was opened and suggestions were thrown out, populating each list with dozens of ideas within minutes. Surprisingly, the sites of hope outnumbered the sites of apology.
Some locations were easy place. The old Grace Hospital site made it onto the apology list, while Assumption Church, Willistead Manor and the Windsor Armouries were some of the historic gems on the hope list. Businesses like Made in Windsor, Phog Lounge and NOI were deemed hopeful, and eyesores like the Studio 4 Tavern and big box indy-business-killers were thought of as sites of major apology.
Other places were more difficult to designate, and made it onto both lists. The old bus station, which currently stands empty but come this summer will once again be the home of the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market, was called a hopeful site because of that fact. However, the physical location of the bus station makes it a questionable spot for a market, as the exhaust from vehicles in the tunnel gets spewed directly into the area from the tunnel ventilation system.
Some suggestions were consciously left off the list. Caesar’s Windsor, for example, could be perceived as a place of hope, as it generates jobs (for the most part) and brings some exciting entertainment to the city. On the other hand, it’s done nothing but isolate itself, to the detriment of the surrounding neighbourhood. A decision to keep it off both lists was made, since BCL didn’t want to seem like it was promoting OR dissing the casino, especially right now (in light of the recent layoffs).
Once the lists were made, and after a late lunch intermission, a couple car-loads of people took to the streets and began the proclamations. At each Site of Apology and Site of Hope, the appropriate badge was placed and a speech made. Photo ops ensued, and then we were off to the next location. I was only able to make it to a couple spots, but I’m sure the rest were at it long after the men won gold and the sun set.
What sites in this city do you think should’ve made the Hope list? Are there any unflattering locations in Windsor that should go on the Apology list? Let’s hear what you think, Windsorites!