Design Is Our Key to an Emotional City

Inhabit is back for a third season! Over the coming weeks, co-host Eunice Wong welcomes us to their home city of Toronto. We talk to a food writer, a professor, a parks nonprofit, a public interest designer, a community center—and along the way we learn how to unlock the power of public spaces.


Inhabit Series 3 Teaser: Coming Soon … Design Is Our Key to an Emotional City

[low rumble and street sounds fade in]

Erika Eitland [on the street]: You knew this probably. I didn’t. So the sculpture couch monster but the translation of it is my heart is ripping.

[“If You’d Ask Me” (drums only) by Isobel O’Connor / Epidemic Sound cues]

Erika Eitland [voiceover]: Inhabit is back for a third season.

Eunice Wong: We are a podcast about the power of design.

Erika Eitland [on the street]: And it reflects the sadness and cruelty of keeping living beings in captivity. And after the pandemic and thinking about public spaces and where we get to be out of captivity, it just feels even more important, a scupture like this—

Erika Eitland (voiceover): The fearless Eunice Wong and I are headed outdoors. And we are going international, people.

Adri Stark: Jay Pitter, brilliant thinker–she always says public space is not neutral. Public space is intimately tied to politics and power systems.

Lauren Neefe [on the street]: Did you already touch it?

Erika Eitland: Oh, yeah.

Lauren Neefe: You totally felt free to touch it?

Erika Eitland: I mean, that’s how I feel about art generally, and especially when it’s in public space.

Lauren Neefe: So you feel like you’re in public space right now?

Erika Eitland: Yeah.

Lauren Neefe: What feels public about it?

Erika Eitland: I think the movement of people through it. Like it’s very much connected to this museum. But I think, it’s at an intersection—a busy intersection—and people are walking through and around the sculpture. It’s a cold day. It’s like slushy, and it’s in a dark gray corner where it’s quite cold. Like if you cross the street, it feels much warmer. You have this big gray wall behind it. There’s no real plants around you. And so it’s not like a, a cozy thing. And again, because it’s public space, you’re like, How clean is this?

Lauren Neefe: [laughter] Thank you so much for your time. Do you mind sharing your name with me?

Erika Eitland: I’m Dr. Erika Eitland.

[“If You’d Ask Me” drum roll.]

PW Chorus: Inhabit.

[“If You’d Ask Me” (instruments only) cues.]

Eunice Wong: We have been busy.

Erika Eitland: We’ve been busy.

Eunice Wong: This season, I invited Erika and our executive producer Lauren to come to my hometown of Toronto.

Erika Eitland [out in Toronto]: Hiiiiiiiiii. We’ll see you later. That was Ashita—

Eunice Wong: —And Vinaya, who are on the Toronto urban design team and we’re gonna have dinner with them tonight.

[Team enters an echoey tunnel.] We’re gonna take the PATH.

Erika Eitland: It’s like some back alley.

Eunice Wong: Toronto being a very cold city, this is how people just get around underground. It’s a giant network. It’s huge.

Erika Eitland: Oh that’s what this is.

Eunice Wong: It’s really handy when it’s like negative 30 outside.

[Beeping. Sounds of high-pressure water in the background.]

Erika Eitland: You have your first PRESTO card!

Lauren Neefe: I have my first PRESTO card! This is the great thing about hanging out with Erika, is that she makes sure that we take joy in everything.

[Espresso machine sounds.]

Erika Eitland: We’re in this bakery right now. We’re supposed to get a coffee. And it’s, like, my first time in Toronto. And so all I can think of is like what little like food things that I want to eat. And so we’re just collecting, we’re collecting. It’s like a Pokemon Go episode. Here we are.

[On Queen Street]

Lauren Neefe: Eunice, tell us about Queen West.

Eunice Wong: West Queen West cuts through a lot of different neighborhoods. It’s got Little Tibet, Little Portugal, Liberty Village—

Erika Eitland: We’re gonna go through the gateway, into this beautiful, giant, snowy park.

Friend 1: Most people will probably say Dundas West doesn’t start till, like, West of Ossington, which is right there.

Lauren Neefe: We’re on Dundas, but it’s like curving around to the south?

Eunice Wong: You see those little shipping containers?

Lauren Neefe: Yes.

Eunice Wong: They’ve been turned into these little small businesses. You can see kind of like a mosaic of a lot of the food cultures in Toronto. Right, you have Jamaican, Vietnamese. There’s like poutine, I think, at one of them? Japanese. Yeah, Filipino.

Lauren Neefe: Poutine? What is that? There’s even one that’s called Nom Nom Nom.

Eunice Wong: Yeah, nom nom nom.

Friend 2: Are we gonna go to the dumpling place?

Friend 1: I’ll catch up with you.

Lauren Neefe: Yeah, we need to have some momo moments.

Friend 1: Are we going to—

Eunice Wong: Erika!

[Now on the street in North York.]

Erika Eitland: I just, I didn’t expect this when we got off the train.

Lauren Neefe: We are going to Sheppard-Yonge.

[Sound of a bus passing]

Erika Eitland: When I heard we’re going to the suburbs of Toronto, I really imagined it was going to be a lot lower density, shorter buildings, cozier vibes. And it feels very much like an up-and-coming large part of the city.

[Now walking through 401 Richmond.]

Eunice Wong: 401 Richmond was a kind of historical, warehouse-y industrial building. This is as mixed use as it gets.

Erika Eitland: Why is there raccoons riding the subway?

[Now on the trolley car.]

Friend 3: Oh, wait, sorry.

Eunice Wong: Are we lost?

Lauren Neefe: I know the question. [Laughter] What is the difference between space and place?

[“If You’d Ask Me” fades to voice over.]

Erika Eitland: I’m Erika.

Eunice Wong: I’m Eunice. And this is Inhabit.

Erika Eitland: Now a member of the SURROUND Podcast Network.

Eunice Wong: Check out Clever and Deep Green at—

Erika Eitland: And leave us a review

Eunice Wong: Wherever you get your podcasts.

Erika Eitland: See you in a couple weeks!

[Snap echoes into a big empty room.]

Lauren Neefe: A Perkins&Will podcast

[SURROUND soundmark, record player static, and three high tones.]