Sorry, this table is reserved for "World-Class" Cities
Alright, I’m in.
After living nine years in this city, first as a refugee and now as a citizen (just a month ago), it’s about time that I dive into the heady mix of calling for change, asking questions and offering ideas. I’m not going to delude myself by thinking that my points are any more original or my own, for that matter, from the cacophony of opinions that surge inside every resident who lives here or from the comments that spill out on the Star’s articles.
But this is my opportunity, damn it, and this is my city.
Kudos to the team behind this project, and for their great work in recruiting and mobilizing what looks like a rambunctious and diverse group of people who are proud to call this great, troubled, beautiful and complex Toronto their home.
Already, we’re off to a great, bold start. We’ve got discussions about youth mobilization, healthy communities, about having an open mind and an engaged spirit during this round of municipal elections, and er, ski hill privatization.
One thing that I'd like to see in Toronto is a city that truly belongs to its people. Where the pulse of progress resonates from a place that cares most for the people that live here. It’s one of the reasons I roll my eyes and click my tongue when I hear the label “world-class.” It’s always thrown into a conversation with a feeble nudge, as if we are somehow to feel both self-conscious and indignant about not being on par with other “world-class” cities like NYC, Paris, Tokyo, etc. We worry about whether we're being overlooked from outside the glass display. And inevitably, the conversation diverges into two points:
1) Oh gosh, I know. Imagine if we had the grand architectural landmarks of [insert European capital] or the technological whiz-bang of Tokyo. We’re so totally out of the loop, guys.
2) Who cares about what the other cities are doing. Let’s just concentrate on fixing the TTC first. And hey, did you hear about that [insert councillor’s name]? What a piece of work.
Alright, maybe I’m being a bit simplistic and a little facetious. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be measuring our progress against those of our contemporaries, nor am I denying that we have a lot of crap to clean up in our backyard (just to start).
What I’m getting at is that we all have a desire and right to create a space that keeps us safe, happy, healthy and engaged. If we all build that need on a foundation of community, awareness, accountability and action, we can all do our part to make Toronto a living, breathing and glowing example of what a city should be. It just happens naturally, without forcing out the label “world-class” and hoping it sticks (or doesn’t).
That means having a genuinely open space for people to feel like they can contribute their voice and know that there’s someone on the other side willing to acknowledge them; whether you’re a Bay St. banker or a homeless youth, an accountant or an artist, a newcomer or an Aboriginal person, a homeowner in Etobicoke or a renter in Jamestown, queer, cyclist, black, city staff, so on. We need that capacity and willingness to learn from all the perspectives of this city of 2.5 million inhabitants.
Toronto Star’s “Your City, My City” has the right idea. Now it’s your turn and my turn to let the city and the world know what Toronto is truly capable of.
So let's hear it!