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Monday, February 6, 2012

  • Students get look at Regent Park redesign
  • Waterloo featured in government videos
  • Social networks and self-esteem
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

The master plan model of the Regent Park redevelopment.
Students get look at Regent Park redesign

by Karen Kawawada, Communications Officer, Faculty of Environment

A group of School of Planning students got an inside look at one of Canada’s most ambitious redevelopment projects recently and have come away with new insights on housing and community.

Students in Issues in Housing, a fourth-year course taught by Laura Johnson, visited Toronto’s Regent Park on Jan. 27. Regent Park was developed as low-income housing in the late 1940s and 1950s. The development had no internal streets because the thinking at the time was that a pedestrian community would be greener and safer.

Initially, the project was considered a success. But as the years went on, the buildings fell into disrepair and crime increased as drug dealers found a haven in the carless paths and buildings with multiple entrances.

About a decade ago, Toronto Community Housing decided on a major redevelopment. The new plan involved a public-private partnership with the Daniels Corporation that would see market-priced condos such as the Paintbox development (pictured above) alongside subsidized rentals.

There would be streets built so residents would truly be able to have their own addresses – and pizza delivery, says Johnson. There would be a grocery store, a bank, a Tim Hortons, and other amenities including community centres and an aquatic centre.

Now the early phases of construction are complete and hundreds of families have moved back in. The redevelopment hasn’t been without controversy, but students largely liked what they saw in the new part – and were shocked by conditions in the old part.

Zoal Razaq, who grew up in Toronto, remembers feeling “honestly, a little scared” the first time she went to the area. When her Waterloo class visited an older building, she and fellow student Joshua Butcher found it poorly heated and ventilated, shabby, cramped, and unsafe-feeling.

“I would never wish anyone to live there,” says Butcher. “It’s really sad.”

In contrast, the new social housing buildings are attractive and virtually indistinguishable from the market-priced condos. “When you look at them, you can’t tell,” says Butcher. “It was sad to see what happened in the past but it was really warming to see something good is happening and steps are being taken.”

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Waterloo featured in government videos

As part of their February inspection blitz focusing on musculoskeletal disorders, Ontario's Ministry of Labour has released two manual materials handling videos that involved the University of Waterloo.

The videos feature laboratory research conducted by professors Richard Wells and Jack Callaghan of the Department of Kinesiology.

Additionally, the "Manual Materials Handling in Industrial Workplaces" video was filmed at Central Stores and Food Services workplaces.

Video production was coordinated by Kate Windsor of the Safety Office.

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Social networks and self-esteem

with material from a Psychological Science media release

In theory, the social networking website Facebook could be great for people with low self-esteem. Sharing is important for improving friendships. But in practice, people with low self-esteem seem to behave counterproductively, bombarding their friends with negative tidbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable, according to a new study which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Amanda Forest.“We had this idea that Facebook could be a really fantastic place for people to strengthen their relationships,” says Amanda Forest (right), a PhD student in social psychology who cowrote the new study with her advisor, Joanne Wood. The two are generally interested in self-esteem, and how self-esteem affects the kinds of emotions people express. They have a particular interest in the processes of self-disclosure, emotional expressivity, and emotion regulation. "Millions of people log on to Facebook every day, and the updates that people post have the propensity to reach hundreds of their social contacts," Forest writes. "Understanding what people share on Facebook and how others react to different kinds of disclosures may offer insight into how Facebook users can use the site to best enhance their social connections."

People with low self-esteem are often uncomfortable sharing face-to-face, but Facebook makes it possible to share remotely. "We thought that Facebook would be an interesting context in which to study people's self-disclosure because we felt that people — and particularly people with low self-esteem — might feel more comfortable in this low-risk environment and might therefore share their feelings more freely than they would in-person," writes Forest.

In one study, Forest and Wood asked students how they feel about Facebook. People with low self-esteem were more likely to think that Facebook provided an opportunity to connect with other people, and to perceive it as a safe place that reduces the risk of awkward social situations.

The researchers also investigated what students actually wrote on Facebook. They asked the students for their last 10 status updates, sentences like, “[Name] is lucky to have such terrific friends and is looking forward to a great day tomorrow!” and “[Name] is upset b/c her phone got stolen :@.” These are visible to their Facebook friends, the people in their network.
Each set of status updates was rated for how positive or negative it was. For each set of statements, a coder – an undergraduate Facebook user – rated how much they liked the person who wrote them.

People with low self-esteem were more negative than people with high self-esteem – and the coders liked them less. The coders were strangers, but that’s realistic, Forest says. In earlier research, Wood and Forest found that nearly half of Facebook friends are actually strangers or acquaintances, not close friends.

Forest and Wood also found that people with low self-esteem get more responses from their real Facebook friends when they post highly positive updates, compared to less positive ones. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, get more responses when they post negative items, perhaps because these are rarer for them.

So people with low self-esteem may feel safe making personal disclosures on Facebook – but they may not be helping themselves. “If you’re talking to somebody in person and you say something, you might get some indication that they don’t like it, that they’re sick of hearing your negativity,” Forest says. But when people have a negative reaction to a post on Facebook, they seem to keep it to themselves. “On Facebook, you don’t see most of the reactions.”

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Link of the day

International Networking Week

When and where

Centre for Career Action workshop "Exploring Your Personality Type (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Part II), Monday, February 6, 2:30 p.m., TC 1112.

"Journalism 101 for Scientists" media training workshop, Tuesday, February 7, 1:00 p.m., DC1302. Details.

Board of governors Tuesday, February 7, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Department of Classical Studies lecture featuring the University of Notre Dame's Dr. David Gura "Arnulf of Orleans' commentary to Ovid's Metamorphoses," Wednesday, February 8, 4:30 p.m., ML 349.

Polynesian Night at Mudie's, Wednesday, February 8, 4:30 p.m.

Centre for Career Action workshop "Discovering Your Skills," Thursday, February 9, 2:30 p.m., TC 2218. Details.

Reading at St. Jerome’s University: poets Rishma Dunlop and Tanis MacDonald, Thursday, February 9, 4:30, StJ room 3014.

St. Jerome's University Alumni-Student Career Mixer, Thursday, February 9, 7:00 p.m., Sr. Leon White Room, Sweeney Hall. Details.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: What Happened When I Woke Up, featuring medievalist Sarah Tolmie, Friday, February 10, St. Paul's room 105.

Water Institute seminar featuring Gerald Pollack, "The Secret Life of Water: E = H2O," Friday, February 10, 11:30 a.m., EV3 1408.

2011-2012 Waterloo District Catholic School Board Lecture featuring Professor Rosalind Hackett, "Response to post-conflict Northern Uganda's Social Suffering," Friday, February 10, St. Jerome's University. Details.

United Way Fundraiser featuring The Lost Faculties, Saturday, February 11, 7:00 p.m., The Museum, 10 King Street West Kitchener. Call Marilyn Thom for tickets at ext. 37188 or email mthom@

Sweet Treats and Sanctuary workshop featuring the University of Western Ontario's Dr. Margaret McGlynn, "Murder, Treason, and Sanctuary in Tudor England", Monday, February 13, reception at 4:30 p.m. in St. Jerome's Room 2011, lecture to follow in Room 2017.

The Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation presents "Clearing the Fog of Geriatrics: Applying Complex System Thinking to the Health and Care of Older Adults," Tuesday, February 14, 2:00 p.m., EV3 3412.

Centre for Teaching Excellence open house, Tuesday, February 14, 2:30 p.m., EV1325.

Valentines Dinner, Tuesday, February 14, 4:30 p.m., REVelation.

Noon Hour Concert series, featuring Elizabeth Rogalsky Lepock (soprano) and Jason White (piano), Wednesday, February 15, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

The Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies presents a lecture by Professor Barbara Borg from the University of Exeter, "Exploring the Underground of Rome: The Roman Catacombs Reconsidered," Wednesday, February 15, 5:00 p.m., ML 349.

Waterloo Lecture: "Harry Potter: Heroic Fantasy, Murder Mystery or Videogame." Neil Randall, Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m., Stratford Public Library. Hosted by the Waterloo Stratford Campus.

Studies in Islam speaker series featuring Professor Larry Harder, "The Landscape of Occupation: Contemporary Israel and Palestine," Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge, Renison University College.

Centre for Career Action webinar "Perfecting your interview skills," Thursday, February 16, 3:30 p.m. Details.

English Reading series featuring Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan, Thursday, February 16, 7:00 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University. Details.

Sawatsky lecture with Professor Julia Spicher Kasdorf Friday, February 17, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel. Details.

Family Day holiday Monday, February 20, university closed.

Reading Week, February 20 to 24.

Deadline for 50 per cent tuition refund, Tuesday, February 21.

Alumni and Friends Reception at the IEEE 2012 ISSCC, Tuesday, February 21, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, 5:30 p.m.

Family Night at the Stratford Campus, Tuesday, February 21, 6:00 p.m., Stratford City Hall Auditorium.

Digital Media Lecture: Blogging Pains, Wednesday, February 22, 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Stratford Campus.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, February 23, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall!

Friday's Daily Bulletin