Wednesday, March 28, 2012

City of Wonder 

This bookshop window display seen in Covent Garden, London, March 2012

Whenever I'm in a city such as London, I think ashamedly, Toronto should just give up now before it embarrasses itself any further. I'm not sure if they are being polite or genuine, but I certainly meet English folks who say, "I like Toronto" or more often, they'll sigh, "Canada… Vancouver looks beautiful."

Though the thing that really comes to mind is how often T.O. touts itself as wonderfully diverse. Girlfriend. You don't know diverse compared to a city the size and breadth and age of London. We may joke how the British absolutely refuse to pronounce French names correctly (Antoine becomes Anton) or their fear of anything foreign is based primarily on not being able to get a decent cup of tea (um, a foreign drink as I recall) but London doesn't a pretty good job of keeping a stiff upper lip as "British" increasing becomes a minority in this city of a myriad of cultures all mingling, mashing and partly "anglicizing".

When, I saw this Marian Bantjes designed (inspired?) window display it crossed my mind of my pride in the international success and recognition of this Canadian-born designer with a Dutch name. She may very well represent the sort of "diversity" and/or hybrid Canadian we love to brag about in the Canadian mosaic, but simultaneously I thought Toronto's diversity, while an important part of its identity, should not be solely its identity. That kind of diversity and pluralisal should not be exceptional but be expected of any contemporary city and democracy.

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