“We embrace winter here”: Celebrating place in winter cities

  • Celebrating place in winter cities

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  • Weather is an elementary and fundamental characteristic of place. In any given place we encounter the materiality of weather, local meanings attached to weather, and practices adopted in response to living with weather. Winter cities are places defined by their weather—long, cold winters that can pose challenges to urban life. Efforts to address these challenges centre on place-making activities, such as seasonal festivals, which seek to enrich public spaces. In this paper, we examine the relationship between winter, place, and placemaking in three Canadian prairie cities. Participants sought to promote a celebratory relationship with winter by changing public attitudes, fostering unique winter experiences, and incorporating winter into their cities’ identities. This shift was encouraged by strategies and events that were “authentic” to local context and community. They did not simply reframe winter weather as positive, but recognized the season as presenting both challenges and opportunities. Enabling residents to realize opportunities is critical to being a successful winter city, and requires negotiating a set of dyads: warm/cold, indoor/outdoor, and light/dark. This paper highlights the constitutive role of weather in shaping place, while revealing the agentic ways in which communities act towards and with weather.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International