Concordia University

Nathan McDonnell


My urban futures

My urban future is a society run by the power of community and not capitalist greed.
We don't talk about it a lot, yet the politics of land is at the centre of everything. The beginning of capitalism saw the enclosures where common land was, for the first time ever, fenced off for private ownership. The history of empires is essentially the history of enormous civilizations competing over control of resources, populations, and trade routes. Indeed, colonialism throughout the colonized world, including (especially) here on Turtle Island, was about the theft of land—this required deception, slavery, ecological destruction, and genocide. In addition to this, cities are historically both a place of cosmopolitanism and innovation in human freedom, culture, and collaboration, but they are also a particularly intense concentration of capitalist and imperial power. Gentrification, which is occurring all over the world since housing became a major financial investment since the 1980s, is just the latest manifestation of this.

My urban future is a liberated society where everyone contributes what they can, receives what they need, and lives to their full potential. Concretely speaking, all land, housing, economy, public services, and politics is democratically owned, decentralized, and managed by local communities for the social and ecological good.

Australian by birth and radical publisher by profession (with Black Rose Books), Nathan McDonnell is a citizen revolutionary by conviction. He believes in the power of community to build a democratic, just, and ecological society beyond the injustice, madness, and cruelty of capitalism. He lives, works, and organizes in the Milton Parc neighbourhood, which hosts the largest community housing project on a community land trust in North America. He is a volunteer community activist with and Vice President of the Milton Parc Citizens’ Committee, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Nathan is especially involved in popular education and mobilization around the citizen control of the city (the Right to the City), community economic development, urban ecology, building grassroots citizen power, and solidarity with indigenous peoples and Milton Parc's homeless.  

He and many other citizen dreamers, with the Communauté St Urbain, a coalition of over 60 community organisations, are working on a community-led vision for the future of the enormous site of the decommissioned Hôtel-Dieu Hospital as well as other local sites with major potential for community development. He co-founded “From the Ground Up // A nous les quartiers,” a popular education initiative of several workshops and a weekend-long international conference about the community control of land, housing, and the economy that involved a total of 600 participants throughout spring 2019.

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