BEA Prairies was thrilled to take part in the Architecture + Design Film Festival by facilitating a panel discussion following the screening of City Dreamers. The panel discussion featured BEA Prairies members Lindsay Oster, Michelle Richard, and Darcy Granove and was moderated by Zoe Mager, whose thoughtful remarks and questions are summarized below.
Many thanks to the panellists and moderator, the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, and Cinematheque as well as event sponsors Prairie Architects, Public City Architecture, and Richard Wintrup & Associates for making this inspiring evening possible.
Lindsay Oster, MAA, SAA, OAA, MRAIC, LEED AP
Lindsay is an architect and principal of Prairie Architects Inc., a Winnipeg-based firm specializing in sustainable architecture for many institutional, residential, adaptive re-use and community-based projects. Prairie Architects Inc. has received numerous awards for sustainable, heritage preservation and accessibility excellence, with more recent accolades for the LEED Platinum certified Building Blocks on Balmoral – a childcare facility for Great-West Life and the first standalone daycare to receive this prestigious designation.
Lindsay has helped guide the vision of Prairie Architects Inc. over the years to establish the reputation of a practice firmly committed to the integrated design process, urban regeneration, social and cultural responsibility, high performance buildings and sustainable LEED design.
Lindsay regularly participates as a guest studio critic at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Architecture and has given guest lectures for both the Faculties of Architecture and Engineering. Lindsay has served on the Manitoba Association of Architects Council since 2014 and is the in-coming president for the 2019/2020 year.
Michelle is an urban planner with more than 20 years experience in community and development planning, strategic policy and economic development. She holds both Master of City Planning and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Manitoba. She coordinated the “OurWinnipeg” Plan for the City of Winnipeg, which was the recipient of the Canadian Institute of Planners National Award of Excellence in 2011.
Michelle is a nationally recognized planner having presented at 50+ conferences and seminars over the course of the last 15 years, including Canadian Institute of Planners National Conference, Canadian Green Building Council National Conference, Federation of Canadian Municipalities National Conference and the Manitoba Planning Conference.
Darcy Granove, MALA, CSLA
Darcy is the founder and principal of Little Bluestem Landscape Architecture & Design and has over fifteen years of experience in Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design and Physical Enhancement. She has a wealth of experience on many scales and types of Landscape Architectural projects including Public Consultation, Site Design, Recreational Planning, Streetscapes, Urban Design, and Green Roof Design. She is an experienced site planner from residential to regional planning; actively leading projects from conception, detail design and into construction, contract administration and project management. Darcy is currently a committee member of the City of Winnipeg’s Urban Design Advisory Committee and ERSPAC Sustainability Committee. She is a Sessional Instructor in the Department of Environmental Design at the University of Manitoba. Darcy is an active member of the Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects [MALA], the Canadian Association of Landscape Architects [CSLA] and the International Association of Public Participation [IAP2].
Zoe Mager, B.A. (Hons.), M.E.S. (Planning)
As a community planner at HTFC Planning & Design, Zoë strives towards equity in her practice, with a focus on social and environmental contexts. Zoë brings experience working with Indigenous communities on consultation, traditional knowledge, environmental conservation, and land use planning. She has a background in environmental education, which includes working with youth on issues such as climate change, urban planning, and civic engagement. She is also interested in urban agriculture, permaculture design, and herbal medicine. She enjoys spying on birds and identifying plants. Zoë has a Masters of Environmental Studies (Planning) from York University and a BA in Indigenous Environmental Studies from Trent University.
Below are some of Zoe's remarks and questions relating to the film. Though we regret that we haven’t captured the thoughtful responses shared by the panellists here, we hope that you will find the summary that follows a helpful starting point for reflection and discussion on these themes.
Leadership and Breaking Down Barriers
In the film, Denise Scott Brown talks about the Wayward Eye and being "original and not caring if other people think it is wrong" and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander called landscape architecture the "art and science of the possible". These progressive attitudes and unwavering focus on best practices were ahead of their time and helped these four women succeed as they started out during a time when women were barely accepted in academic and professional planning and design communities and institutions.
I’m curious about what you think has or hasn’t changed in terms of women's experiences in our city-building professions and if you recognize elements of your own experiences reflected in the telling of the four City-Builders whose stories were shared in the film or not?
Can you recall some leaders that have inspired you or circumstances have required you to utilize creativity and perseverance to overcome barriers in your work?
This film focuses on four women who broke barriers and showed leadership not only because they were women, but also visionaries in sustainable, socially conscious, and innovative design and planning. However, we cannot ignore that there is still a long way to go in terms of equal representation. There remains a huge under-representation of People of Colour, Indigenous people, and people with diverse genders, and abilities and disabilities, and also still women to varying degrees across city-building professions.
We know from another urbanist hero, Jane Jacobs, that diverse planners and designers are required to meet diverse needs, so when we lack diverse planning and design communities we do a disservice to not only those who aren’t included, but to the general public, our clients, and our professions.
As women who currently have privilege and access in city-building professions, and who also know what it's like to be excluded from professional spaces and opportunities, how can we fulfil our responsibilities in making sure that we actively make space for people who don’t have equal access?
How can we work towards having our firms and boardrooms reflect the beautifully diverse communities of our cities?
Phyllis Lambert talks about that mise en valeur (enhancement) of heritage and urban fabric; I think that Winnipeg has done pretty well in terms of maintaining the aesthetic appeal of older buildings through heritage conservation, particularly in the Exchange District and parts of the downtown core.
Why should we protect and preserve Heritage sites, styles, and districts, and when does that conservation become protectionism that holds us back from potential beneficial growth and change (e.g. with infill development)?
What can Winnipeg learn from other cities and what can other cities learn from Winnipeg? What do we do well? What don’t we do well?
Climate Change & Environment
The world is paying a lot of attention to young, visionary, environmental leaders lately such as Swedish Activist Greta Thunberg and Anishinaabe Water protector Autumn Peltier. Just as the women of City Dreamers were responding to the relevant issues and topics of their day, climate change adaptation and mitigation is absolutely at the top of the list currently.
In thinking about current environmental context and the urgency that we're hearing about in terms of climate change, where are the opportunities and responsibilities for us to be leaders and advocates as city-builders in dealing with climate change and environmental issues?