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Jan 1 2021 Film /

TSA Playlist | January: Community


Inspired by this month’s IDEAS Forum: Community Care, a collaboration with DesignTO for the 2021 DesignTO Festival, our first playlist for 2021 explores the power of communities to affect change. From local activists giving voice to underserved neighbourhoods to grass-root movements affecting change despite hardship and systemic neglect, this month’s selection brings together insightful stories of community care and generosity shaping cities across North America.

Included in this month’s list are examples of street-level solutions and carefully planned neighbourhoods that share a common goal — making their communities healthier, happier and more resilient. 


Mr. Jane and Finch
2019 l 44 mins

‘So much of what makes Jane and Finch a community is the way we’ve taken care of each other. We’ve always had to perform “lateral care”’
Sam Tecle  

Guyanese-Canadian Winston LaRose is an 80-year-old community activist who has dedicated the last 25 years to supporting residents of Toronto’s Jane and Finch community. Produced by OYA Media Group, this documentary follows Mr. Jane and Finch as he decides to run for office as Councillor of Toronto’s Ward 7, challenging the established powers that be and fighting for his vulnerable and poorly served community.

Watch it on CBC Gem



Gaining Ground: Building Community on Dudley Street
2012 l 58 mins

In the midst of the Great Recession of the late 2000s, GAINING GROUND explores the innovative, grassroots organizing efforts of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in Boston, Massachusetts. DSNI was created 25 years ago when the community had been devastated by bank redlining, arson-for-profit, and illegal dumping, and has become one of the preeminent models for community-based change.

This film is a follow up of the award-winning Holding Ground (1996), a documentary sharing the story of how this Boston neighborhood was able to create and carry out its own agenda for change.

Watch it on Kanopy



United States of Detroit
2019 l 1 hr 22 mins

“We have always understood in Detroit that no one is coming for us. People here get that we’re going to have to make our own way.”
Stephen J. Henderson, Editor, The Detroit Free Press

A stylish and moving documentary about the resilience and spirit of Detroit’s neighborhoods, recounting the story of the city’s past, its present resurgence and future potential. This is a film about the power and necessity of community action in Detroit, and the street-level solutions that residents there are finding to make a way in the biggest city in our nation to ever go bust.

Watch it on Kanopy



Searching for Shangri-La, Designing Healthy Communities
2012 l 57 mins

Can the design of our neighbourhoods be an act of community care? 

Searching for Shangri-La is part of a four-episode long series exploring the connection between public health and urban design, looking into how good design can lead to healthier citizens and communities. This episode visits five American communities — Roseto, PA; Prairie Crossing, IL; New York City, NY; Charleston, SC; and Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Park in Detroit, IL in search for healthy, sustainable communities that can serve as models for the rest of the country. Guest experts include walkability expert, Dan Burden, and the Executive Director of Project for Public Spaces Fred Kent. 

Watch it on Kanopy


About the TSA Playlist

The TSA Playlist is a monthly curated list of free online films touching upon issues of architecture, the built environment and design. Our thematic lists do more than just entertain; they inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives helping bring the conversation of the built environment to new audiences and encourage conversation and debate.

Have a suggestion of a film or theme you would like to see featured? Let us know at tsa@torontosocietyofarchitects.ca

Be sure to also check out the past editions of the TSA Playlist!

06.2020 l Outdoors

07.2020 l O Canada












How to access the Playlist

Our TSA Playlist films are available free of charge for online screening through a number of streaming services in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond including Kanopy, TVO, CBC Gem, and Hoopla. Our monthly list includes viewing links on platforms available in the region. Some of these streaming services might require you to have a free library or university card to access the service. See list below for where these streaming services are available.

Kanopy is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Hamilton PL, Oshawa PL (until July 3), Stratford PL, Newmarket PL, Whitby PL, London PL, Guelph PL, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo, George Brown College, Seneca College, Centennial College and Sheridan College. If you don’t see your library listed, you can verify if your library has made Kanopy available here. Got a university card instead? You can check if your university has made Kanopy available here.

Hoopla is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Barrie PL, Kingston PL, Mississauga PL, Kitchener PL, Niagara Falls PL, Peterborough PL and Orillia PL.