Japanese Nobori flags were once raised as a symbolic call to action. The cloth is suspended from a cross that is attached to a pole so it hangs down, ensuring visibility. In this tradition, I raise a contemporary banner, constructed as a patchwork collage using refuse materials from previous city banners that were raised and torn down. This reflects upon the varying states of inertia experienced by buildings and communities in and around the downtown Hamilton core, caught in the struggle between gentrifying corporate development and living needs. Revitalizing efforts from local grassroots are impacted by municipal mismanagement of buildings that become abandoned and boarded up. This tattered ‘rag’ is a patchwork of heritage with a lineage steeped in reparation and resiliency throughout its many historical changes. The questions remain: Who will serve this community? And how? Who will be excluded? And how?
Hitoko Okada is an independent clothier and fibre artist based in Hamilton. She has worked as a costume and props maker with various theatre companies in Vancouver and Southern Ontario, including The Stratford Festival (Stratford), The Grand Theatre (London) and Mirvish Productions (Toronto). Okada has been engaged with community art projects since 1997, co-ordinating arts festivals, workshops and creating sculpture in public spaces to address community issues and generate public space for marginalized voices. Her installations and sculptural work has been exhibited in public outdoor exhibitions across Canada such as Luminato and Nuit Blanche (Toronto), Illuminares (Vancouver) and Winterfest (Hamilton). She has also had gallery exhibitions at the Harbourfront Gallery (Toronto), The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (Toronto)’ Centre  and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (Hamilton).