Writing on Space for Difference in the City
Mia’s research and writing has focused on making space for difference in the city – be it space for at-risk women, marginalized commercial activity, those facing mental health issues, narratives of LGBTQ2+ lives or families in the urban core.
During Mia’s SSHRC-funded postdoctoral research, she explored a craft-based social enterprise that provides supplemental income and community to women who experience homelessness, addictions and mental health issues. Mia collaborated with the staff and participants at Inspirations Studio through an 11-month ethnography. A project, which began as an investigation into the relationships between creative entrepreneurship, material practice and narratives of Toronto as a global creative city, transformed into pure community advocacy, as Mia joined the fight for the studio when it lost its funding and partner agency.
She has a forthcoming publication from this project in the Journal of Canadian Art History entitled “Managing marginalized material in the craft marketplace”. She has also published from this collaboration in Studio: Craft & Design in Canada, the Journal of Craft Ontario and in Healthscapes, the Ontario Hospital Association e-bulletin. Her collaborative work at Inspirations Studio was also shared at the Canadian Craft Biennial in 2017 and at the Canadian Association of Geographers conference in Halifax in 2016.
Mia’s SSHRC-funded PhD was completed in 2015 through the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her doctoral research project explored material and practice in marginalised retail establishments in Central London through in-shop and visual ethnographies, interviews and archival research. In collaboration with local shopkeepers, Mia investigated how the micro-geographies of these shops work through, and on, various urban forces, including the vibrant matter of cities, neighbourhood change, the global brand and precarity associated with the translocalism of shopkeepers. As well as publishing on the use of photography in urban research, Mia shared her project in a piece for GeoHumanities in 2016, entitled “A politics of the urban ordinary: The material ad hoc-ness of shops in London” and presented her work many times in the UK, Canada and the US. Her full PhD and abstract can be found via the Royal Holloway website.
“A ‘vision’ of health: Reimaging the space of CAMH” was the title of Mia’s SSHRC-funded Master's thesis completed in Planning at the University of Toronto in 2008. The project examined the intersection between urban design plans, political strategies and promotional campaigns implicated in the redevelopment of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. The project was presented at the Canadian Association of Geographers annual conference in Quebec City that year.
Mental health has also featured in Mia’s work in other ways, relating to her experience on the Board of a mental health centre in Toronto. In "Spotlight on Transformation: Developmental Services Bulletin from the Ministry of Community and Social Services," Mia wrote a piece entitled “CORE’s empowerment model takes to the streets” written following a 2010 Jane’s Walk she developed in collaboration with the youth from the centre.
In 2008, Mia published an article on how approaches to planning could encourage families to live in the downtown care. The piece was entitled “Accommodating social diversity in the gentrified city: Making space for families” and was published in Progressive Planning.
Finally, a piece developed from Mia’s undergraduate honours thesis on the marketing of Montreal’s Gay Village was published in 2008 in the Canadian Journal of Urban Research. The work explored how the image of Montreal's Gay Village had been increasingly crafted by those outside of the community for economic ends over time. She presented this work in Minneapolis in 2005 at the conference of the Planners Network.