The terribly bitter taste of apathy
For a few days, I contemplated when the best time would be to post this.
I am sitting in front of my computer reading Tweets, blogs and Facebook status messages about an event that has become the largest grassroots celebration of creative young people in Toronto's recent history. The event in question was more than a one-day show-and-tell photo op with tokenized young people. It was a genuine expression of appreciation of community and creativity among peers.
And yet, not a mayoral candidate in sight.
Manifesto is a community arts festival that began with $3,000 and a young person's ambitious dream... four years ago. That $3,000 fuelled the masterminding of what is now one of the most memorable movements to touch the lives of youth across Toronto (and soon Jamaica). You see, unlike Nuit Blanche, TIFF and all of the other innovative arts and culture events Manifesto learned very quickly that youth live outside of the downtown core and decided to engage the entire city.
They broke down the downtown divide and invited Malvern, Rexdale, Jane/Finch and others to participate in a 7-day festival of politics, music, film and art by bringing events to them. Reaching out is the first step to effective engagement and when done right results in very successful results. For Manifesto, success was an 7-day festival that brought about 10,000 young people together (without any incidences of "disturbance") with more than 100 youth volunteers and staff. The Manifesto team is led by youth, who employ other youth (*gasp* what a concept) to run the entire show. Sure, they have help of adult allies, but adults don't dictate what will happen. In the most uptopian of uptopias, Manifesto epitomizes what true engagement is.
And it's for that reason alone that I wish there was at least ONE mayoral candidate present to take note.
With election day nearing, I can't help but reflect on my lack of reflection on these posts. Why, as someone who remains incredibly passionate about the municipal affairs of this city, have I been so painfully silent about the mayoral race?
I've written and deleted 4 or 5 posts, unsure of how to articulate my answer. However, after seeing ZERO political representation (save for some bickering about my article in the Manifesto Magazine (p 65) from certain candidates) at Manifesto's 7-day festival that even brought out the likes of the honourable Governor General, Michaelle Jean, I have come to the conclusion that I am experiencing the terribly bitter taste of apathy.
I just don't care.
I don't care to engage in the slanderfest, laugh at the ribbing or decry the doom and gloom state of the city under a particular leader's rule. And I certainly don't care to pretend that our city has been sucked into a financial black hole with no way out.
When did we become a city that spends more time on informal smear campaigns and trash talking than we do being 21st first century visionaries? Call me naive, but I believe that Toronto is on the path to something incredible; something that will further solidify our legacy as an international city with an abudance of creativity, amazing people and fresh ideas. Manifesto is one manifestation a multitude of great contributions to this city. So what do the candidates have to say about this?
Let's hope they address it at the arts debate this Wednesday.