Episode 18: How CLUSTER is Bridging Western Urban Understanding From the Middle East to North Africa

August 21, 2022


In this episode, my co-host Sami Ferwati and I chat with Salma Elbasty from CLUSTER (Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research). CLUSTER undertakes a number of research, architecture, and arts-based urban initiatives with a special focus on analyzing urban informality and highlighting its role in our cities. During our discussion, we explore the impact of two of CLUSTER's major projects—the CAUL (Critical Arab Urban Lexicon) and their Creativity in Action toolkit—and how through their diverse programming they work with artists, artisans, academics, businesses, communities, and everyone else in between to bring their projects to life.

In this episode, you'll learn about:

  • urban informality and its role in creative cities,
  • the process CLUSTER follows to undertake their various creative, community-based activities,
  • the Critical Arab Urban Lexicon (CAUL) and the importance of translating urban terms into different languages, 
  • ALFABRIKA, CLUSTER's maker space and community hub,
  • and much more!

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Guest: Salma Elbasty, CLUSTER

Salma Elbasty is an architect at CLUSTER Cairo. She obtained her BSc. in Architecture from the German University in Cairo, and she completed her pre-master studies with a focus on urban design in 2020. Her research interests involve the intersection of architecture with social sciences. Besides her architectural career, Salma experiments within the field of design, crisscrossing into the realms of graphic and visual design.

Co-Host: Sami Ferwati

Sami is in his second year in the Masters of Science in Planning program. Before attending the University of Toronto Sami attended McMaster University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. He is also a part of the Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS), where he serves as the VP of Space. Sami's primary research interests in planning surround housing, economic development, urban design, and how people interact with their urban environment.

Timestamps

  • 03:25 | An introduction to Salma and CLUSTER
  • 04:25 | What is CLUSTER and how did this organization get started? 
  • 07:31 | What is the Critical Arab Urban Lexicon (CAUL) and how did it get started? 
  • 10:05 | What has been the impact of CAUL since its initial launch?
  • 12:06 | What is the Creativity in Action project and the resulting toolkit? And how did this project get started?
  • 20:46 | What has been the impact of this project on the communities? 
  • 23:35 | What does informality look like in a city such as Cairo?
  • 25:49 | Has the government played any role in supporting urban awareness or urban solutions?
  • 29:27 | Why do you think it's important for cities to invest in these creative hubs and artisanal workshops?
  • 32:05 | What’s next for CLUSTER and how would you like to see the organization evolve? 
  • 34:05 | How can people get involved with CLUSTER?

Show Notes

Acknowledgements

Sponsorships

This episode is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto School of Cities and the Department of Geography and Planning. 

The School of Cities "convenes urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the general public to explore and address complex urban challenges, with the aim of making cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and just". To learn more about the School of Cities visit www.schoolofcities.utoronto.ca

To learn more about the Department of Geography and Planning and the different undergraduate and graduate programs available please visit www.geography.utoronto.ca.

Support
  • Editor and Music Producer: Imany Lambropoulos
  • Podcast Host and Graphic Designer: Alexandra Lambropoulos

Stay in the loop!

If you would like to be interviewed, have an interesting idea to share for an episode, or have any feedback on the podcast, please send me an email at hello[at]urbanlimitrophe.com.

If you enjoy the show, please share it with your family, friends, quahogger, quality lab technician, quarterback ... and leave a review on Apple Podcasts! 

Make sure to subscribe to the newsletter and follow the podcast on Instagram to stay in the loop

Episode 17: How Book Bunk is Restoring Public Libraries Across Nairobi

August 14, 2022
How Book Bunk is Restoring Public Libraries Across Nairobi | Urban Limitrophe Podcast


In this episode, my co-host Jane O'Brien Davis and I chat with Marion Anvango at Book Bunk. Book Bunk is "working to restore some of Nairobi's most iconic public libraries into sites of heritage, public art, collective memory, knowledge production, shared experiences, cultural leadership and information exchange." During our discussion, we explore the diverse series of programming that they offer in their public library branches. We also chat about Book Bunk's approach to restoring libraries to make them more inclusive and accessible and cultivate a sense of belonging for the local community. 

In this episode, you'll learn about:

  • how they involve the community in the restoration of public libraries,
  • their experiential, digital, architectural, and social approach to restoring public libraries,
  • their efforts to make library services more accessible for those living with disabilities,
  • why public libraries are so important for cities to have,
  • and much more!

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Guest: Marion Anvango, Book Bunk

Marion Anvango is a literature enthusiast. She works at Book Bunk as the Acquisitions Liaison, in charge of curating and managing collections at the libraries. 

Co-Host: Jane O'Brien Davis

Jane is a MScPl student in the Department of Geography and Planning. Her interests lie in heritage planning, cultural planning, and public histories. Jane’s research looks at counter-monuments and alternative commemorations of space and place. She is interested in how grassroots organizing in Canadian cities engages with built heritage in a settler colonial context.

Timestamps

  • 01:46 | An introduction to Jane
  • 05:22 | An introduction to Marion and Book Bunk
  • 07:45 | What is the Book Bunk and how did it get started?
  • 10:41 | We read that your approach to public library restoration is “experiential, social, digital, and architectural”. Can you walk us through the restoration process from these different lenses? 
  • 14:35 | Given Kenya’s colonial legacy, what is Book Bunk doing to promote traditional Kenyan culture in these spaces?
  • 21:28 | How does Book Bunk involve the community in the physical restoration of the public libraries?
  • 23:45 | Can you explain some of the programming that Book Bunk has? 
  • 29:28 | Can you share with us who is the target audience of Hepa Jam because its activities target so many people?
  • 28:01 | Can you paint us a picture of what the public space landscape looks like Nairobi?
  • 30:17 | Why public libraries are so important to cities?
  • 32:50 |What support or partnerships do you think municipalities can provide to help the maintenance and expansion of your programming and services? 
  • 34:50 | What’s next for Book Bunk?
  • 38:27 | How can people get involved or support Book Bunk?

Show Notes

Acknowledgements

Sponsorships

This episode is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto School of Cities and the Department of Geography and Planning. 

The School of Cities "convenes urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the general public to explore and address complex urban challenges, with the aim of making cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and just". To learn more about the School of Cities visit www.schoolofcities.utoronto.ca

To learn more about the Department of Geography and Planning and the different undergraduate and graduate programs available please visit www.geography.utoronto.ca.

Support
  • Music Producer: Imany Lambropoulos
  • Podcast Host and Graphic Designer: Alexandra Lambropoulos

Stay in the loop!

If you would like to be interviewed, have an interesting idea to share for an episode, or have any feedback on the podcast, please send me an email at hello[at]urbanlimitrophe.com.

If you enjoy the show, please share it with your family, friends, podiatrist, personal shopper, pharmacist... and leave a review on Apple Podcasts! 

Make sure to subscribe to the newsletter and follow the podcast on Instagram to stay in the loop

Episode 16: How Black Futures Now Toronto Turned Local Histories into a Virtual Community Centre

July 24, 2022

In this episode, I chat with Adwoa Afful, the founder of Black Futures Now Toronto (BFN TO). BFN TO is a collective that uses a mixture of storytelling, radical mapping, and a whole lot of creative talent, to develop a number of interactive ways of archiving, experiencing, and celebrating overlooked Black histories and building community both online and offline. During our talk, we explore their innovative Mapping Black Futures (MBF) story mapping project, and how in collaboration with Black nonbinary youth and women from across the Greater Toronto Area, they built a virtual community centre that highlights Black histories and geographies. 

In this episode, you'll learn about:

  • why it's important to map Black histories and Black geographies,
  • what is counter/radical mapping and how it can be used as a tool for community building,
  • how Black Futures Now Toronto developed their virtual community centre,
  • the youth responsible for creating the content for the Mapping Black Futures project,
  • and much more!

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Guest: Adwoa Afful, Founder

Adwoa Afful is the founder of Black Futures Now Toronto (BFN TO), the Project Manager for the Mapping Black Futures Project, and an Executive Producer of "'Dis Place," podcast. She has a background in urban planning, and founded BFN TO to create intergenerational spaces where Black people from across the GTA  interested and engaged in community building may share and create strategies for doing with each other.

Timestamps

  • 03:39 | An introduction to Adwoa and Black Futures Now Toronto
  • 07:53 | What is the Mapping Black Futures Project and what inspired you to start this?
  • 13:54 | Can you walk us through the process of creating the Mapping Black Futures Project and collecting the different stories?
  • 18:28 | What are some of the highlights from the stories shared?
  • 24:27 | What has been the response from the community ?
  • 29:28 | What is radical mapping and why is mapping, archiving, and curating the stories and places that hold such meaning and memories for the Black community (particularly Black nonbinary youth and women) so important?
  • 35:11 | What kind of supports (i.e. policies, partnerships) do you think cities should offer groups like yourself to help celebrate these lesser-known histories and spaces and support placemaking for diverse communities?
  • 40:16 |What’s next for Black Futures Now Toronto? 
  • 42:18 | How can people get involved or support Black Futures Now Toronto?

Show Notes

Want to learn more? Check out this episode's references!

Acknowledgements

Sponsorships

This episode is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto School of Cities and the Department of Geography and Planning. 

The School of Cities "convenes urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the general public to explore and address complex urban challenges, with the aim of making cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and just". To learn more about the School of Cities visit www.schoolofcities.utoronto.ca

To learn more about the Department of Geography and Planning and the different undergraduate and graduate programs available please visit www.geography.utoronto.ca.

Support
  • Editor: Hannah Ahamedi
  • Music Producer: Imany Lambropoulos
  • Podcast Host and Graphic Designer: Alexandra Lambropoulos

Stay in the loop!

If you would like to be interviewed, have an interesting idea to share for an episode, or have any feedback on the podcast, please send me an email at hello[at]urbanlimitrophe.com.

If you enjoy the show, please share it with your family, friends, optometrist, OB/GYN, naval architect... and leave a review on Apple Podcasts! 

Make sure to subscribe to the newsletter and follow the podcast on Instagram to stay in the loop

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Welcome!


Urban Limitrophe is a podcast exploring the various initiatives happening in cities across the African continent to creatively solve problems, support their communities, create vibrant urban spaces, and build better cities overall. Tune in to catch interviews with various guests!

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