Villages in Cities: Community Land Ownership, Cooperative Housing, and the Milton Parc Story
Joshua Hawley and Dimitrios Roussopoulos, eds.
As gentrification threatens to uproot neighbourhoods across the world, the flame of co-operative housing has been reignited. Meanwhile, community land ownership has the potential to turn the tide and put the destiny of our cities into the hands of residents. Villages in Cities takes us across North America to Montreal, Boston, Vermont, and Mississippi, presenting concrete examples of citizens taking back the land and claiming their right to secure housing. It also acts as a guidebook to contemporary urban struggles through fertile archival material from the Milton Parc struggle, which is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. Villages in Cities presents a succinct portrait of the problems facing the ownership of urban land and concrete strategies for communities to take back urban land from the market and the State.
The story begins in Montreal in 1968, when word spread like wildfire of a developer’s plan to demolish six blocks of the working-class neighbourhood of Milton Parc. The developer envisioned enormous high-rises with luxury apartments, hotels, offices, and commercial space. It was a declaration of war, and the local community responded in kind. What followed was a David versus Goliath struggle that not only saved the Victorian and Edwardian heritage architecture from destruction but would, more importantly, defend the neighbourhood in perpetuity from gentrification through the creation of the Communauté Milton Parc: a massive non-profit co-operative and non-profit housing project on an urban land trust. With some 616 apartments self-managed by a strong community of around 1500 low and medium-income residents, it is a veritable village in the heart of the city.
Praise for Villages in Cities
"This is the most extraordinary book on Milton Parc. You don't have to read anything else [on it], really. It's the concept of the organizers, not somebody reporting on what somebody else saw or their interpretation of it, it's the organizer's own interpretation ... There were so many rules in the way of what you could do and what you could not do, and this is a great lesson that if you really believe in something and really fight for it, it happens. I've ordered 25 copies of the book to give to people. That tells you how much I think about it."
— Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Center for Architecture and Heritage Montreal
"Villages in Cities provides a powerful and refreshing account of how communities are contesting the ongoing commodification of housing and land. The centre-piece of the book is the story of Milton Parc in Montreal, a neighbourhood under threat by speculative property development in the late 1960s. Resident mobilization and action paved the way for an alternative path - one that would place direct democracy at the heart of what is now North America's largest housing cooperative. Written in a clear and accessible style, Villages in Cities showcases a range of present-day North American projects to de-commodify land as well as an in-depth analysis of the Milton Parc case. The book is essential reading for urban scholars, students, activists and planners who are concerned about the struggle for spatial justice and how resident-led initiatives - despite the odds - are winning that struggle."
– NORMA RANTISI, professor of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University
"Villages in Cities is a welcome and timely reminder that the visionary foresight of Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes need not remain merely a quaint and utopian concept, but can be actively realized on a grand scale no matter where we choose to share our lives with our fellow citizens."
— Karl Seigler, a founding member of the Association of Book Publishers of BC, the Simon Fraser Centre for Studies in Publishing, and founder of the Literary Press Group of Canada
Joshua Hawley is an MA candidate at Queen's University in Canada and a community organizer in the housing justice movement. Dimitrios Roussopoulos is a publisher, author, and activist at the forefront of urban social movements engaged in housing, ecology, and municipalism.
164 pages; 2019
Table of Contents
- Introduction, by Josh Hawley and Dimitri Roussopoulos
- January 1971 MPCC Introductory Pamphlet
- Milton-Parc: How We Did It and How It Works Now, by Lucia Kowaluk and Carolle Piché-Burton
- 1969 Free Press
- Champlain Housing Trust, Brenda Torpy
- 1970 Architectural Canada Newsmagazine Debate
- Montreal and Boston, Julien Deschênes
- Spring-Summer 1971 BULLDOZER: Bulletin of the MPCC
- 1972 Community Press (formerly the BULLDOZER)
- On Housing, Lucia Kowaluk
- 1973 Arrests and Trial
- Housing Co-ops: Citizen Control or Social Service, Josh Hawley
- 1979 Letter from Lucia Kowaluk to Phyllis Lambert and Heritage Montreal
- The Social Production of Housing, Iman Salama
- 1983 CMHC Press Release on the Inauguration of Milton-Parc
- Interview with Dimitri Roussopoulos
- Interview with Lucia Kowaluk
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