A call to reinvest the work’s production budget into community initiatives by establishing aid networks to disseminate resources to local affinity groups.
Pilot projects are ineffectual when their effects are felt only during their temporary instantiation. They are especially ineffectual when they do not work to address and amend an organization's fundamentally hostile elements. Hostile architecture is not simply the presence of spikes, bars, and barriers - features The Bentway has made sure to avoid. Hostile Architecture also exists at the level of ideological and financial structures.
Non-profit organizations monitor and coerce social justice by diverting public funds into private hands through posing as charitable foundations. They often work to redirect energy into surveilled forms of philanthropic work, inconveniently scheduled community meetings, and conversations with developers that are organized under the logic of capital. Charitable conservancy has replaced grassroots collectives of people working together for goals that don’t rely on private or government agencies. This impulse must be replaced with solidarity- behaviour that recognizes the failures of this organization's current ways and builds social relations that support the self determination of marginalized people.
The Bentway as Hostile Architecture demands the reinvestment of the work’s $10,000.00 production budget into community initiatives, by establishing aid networks to disseminate resources to local affinity groups between October 2020 and June 2021 — in keeping with The Bentway’s fiscal year. This project questions the efficacy of temporary installation initiatives and instead looks to divest power, platform, and space by prioritizing the agency of communities. It allows for self-determination through ongoing, coordinated communication with BIPOC community leaders, those working with folks living in encampments, as well as other affinity groups who may otherwise seek aid to maintain their operations.
Rather than posing The Bentway as a generous authority that deems particular recipients worthy of charity, this decentralization of resources can be upheld by ongoing, coordinated communication with sensitivity to resource proximity by your existing staff members with organized groups that work with unhoused residents of encampments in public space, support BIPOC community leaders, and protest for the decommodification of housing. We demand the Bentway ask questions about how they can use this proposal's budget to provide aid to the communities these affinity groups aid and listen to the answers they receive.
Communication with neighbourhood community groups will continue after this developed initial period. This demand is the beginning of a larger call to unsettle the colonial framework of this institution and reduce the harm caused by its presence within the city. This proposal is not a solution, but a call for reflection upon the material basis of imagination - a call to action. By doing so The Bentway can learn to better serve the communities it claims to be engaging with.
This is an ongoing project that is currently a part of Bentway's Safe in Public initiative.
October 2020 - June 2021
Take Down, Spread Out, Article by Benjamin de Boer in C Magazine, Community Issue 149