A film by Giovanni Attili and Leonie Sandercock

Canada’s liberal immigration policy effectively resulted in a massive flow of people taking up residence there from areas around the world, but most notably Asia, including India and Pakistan. Roughly 18 percent of Canadians are now foreign born. Perhaps the city with the largest immigrant population isVancouver, where an estimated 51 percent of the residents are non-English speaking or have English as their second language. Rapid immigration of this magnitude creates many problems for the host country and, in Canada’s zeal to increase its resident population through absolute numbers, issues are largely unaddressed by public policy. Attili and Sandercock’s case study focuses on one of these, the absence of formal mechanisms in society integrating the new and varied immigrants. These two have chosen to present their research in the
form of a DVD that is available for purchase. The following reviews both aspects presented by this product—the academic merit of the case study and the quality of the DVD.
Attili and Sandercock chose the Collingwood area of Vancouver for their research, which contains residents with only 28 percent possessing English as their native language. This polyglot place with its extreme diversity did not contain public resources to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society, other than a school system. Collingwood residents, along with the city Department of Planning, worked together and built a full-service neighborhood center. Much of the DVD documents how the presence of this facility has changed the lives of immigrants for the better (most of the interviews are with women).
Any DVD produced by academics for sale must be up to professional standards. Where Strangers Become Neighbors meets this criterion. Its production values are evident from the beginning of the program. Well-conceived graphics are integrated with live action interviews and other instructional material to tell the story in an interesting way.

(to read the full article published in the “Journal of Planning Education and Research” 2007 27: 99, please click here)
by M. Gottdiener (University at Buffalo)

[…] The film offers a really exciting audio-visual exploration of the questions, dilemmas, challenges and triumphs of the experience of the CNH. I watched the film a little while after I had read the book, and it immediately made me see some of the questions it raises in a different way, in ways that aren’t possible only through the text. The film has also proved extremely useful in an educational setting.
Overall, then, this book and its associated film are many things: the story of the success of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House; a community development guidebook; a planning education tool; an extension of collaborative planning theory into the realm of digital media; an important contribution to planning research methods; and a vision for practice and theory of the possibilities of living together as neighbours.

(the full article is published in the journal “disP – The Planning Review” which is available here)
by L. Porter (University of Glasgow)

“Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) has been working with Professor Leonie Sandercock of the University of British Columbia (UBC) to showcase its suc-cess in meeting the needs of the Collingwood community by providing a range of innovative and practical services. Recently, CNH collaborated with UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) in an Urban Digital Ethnographies initiative. Digital ethnography involves using video as a research tool. In an urban context, it collects narrations, moving cartographies, “influential” maps, street noises, theatrical performances, voices, texts, animations, films and images. The Colllingwood project is modeled on the work of Dr. Giovanni Attili of the University of Rome who studied immigrants in his neighbourhood and the impact these immigrants had on those communities. Professor Sandercock thought that the Collingwood community was an ideal and along with Dr. Attili, designed a similar course at UBC. CNH provided access to individuals in the community who shared their immigration stories and SCARP students worked pairs to film the stories and produce short interactive videos. The women who participated in the project are originally from Chile, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The videos recount their settlement experiences and the way their lives have intersected with the Collingwood community. The students completed their work in April 2005 and their videos were showcased at the CNH Annual general Meeting in June. Professors Sandercock and Dr. Attili continued to film and are compiling this with some of the students’ work into a 30-40 minute documentare film entitled ‘When Strangers become Neighbors: the story of the CNH’. They are aiming to have this finished in time for the CNH’s 20th Anniversary in November. The Digital Urban Ethnography project is another fine example of CNH’s ability to attract community partnerships. It also validates how immigrants impact their community and the work that community organizations do to ensure that immigrants are able to make this positive contribution. Speaking on behalf of CNH, Val Cavers says. “We’re very pleased to showcase what we can do. The videos really hit home and we hope that funding agencies will take note of neighbourhood services and the magnitude of their impact on the community.
by L. V. Johnson