This project examines interactions and encounters in a public park in order to better understand how seemingly ordinary activities may influence and potentially foster feelings of connection among urbanites. With increasing numbers of people moving into urban areas and rapid population increases in previously suburban cities, cultural, societal, and situational norms may be challenged as new ways of being are introduced. In many places, urban residents are reporting increased feelings of disconnection from their neighbours. The sociability of public spaces has been the subject of discussion not only within the academic literature but also among residents and local media outlets in places like Richmond, BC. In Richmond, as in many other cities, terms such as intercultural harmony and community connection are used to envision an ideal state of relations between residents of rapidly growing urban centres. But to what extent are these ideals being realized, or commonly understood, in urban settings? This ethnographically based examination of day-to-day encounters in Minoru Park in Richmond’s city centre explores how people are using the park and the ways in which connections with unknown others are perceptibly fostered (or deterred). The findings from this particular study also enable an assessment of the capacity of the existing literature on social interactions in urban public spaces to account adequately for observed social interactions in places such as Minoru Park.
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