Did-you-know2

A teaser for my poster-presentation at the upcoming Urban Ecologies conference. Read more below.

Dear readers,

This post finds my back in my home-town Toronto, after a relatively short, but very enriching period of time in Amsterdam. I have many (20ish) essays and observational posts about Amsterdam that will be coming out as a series over the summer. Time and space will bring my mind clarity, and I will be able to engage with the subject matter, explicitly as it relates to Toronto (as my point of view is inescapable, and Toronto is a very important point of comparison for my projects, past present future).

Last I spoke with you, I was curious about the 30 hour bus ride I was to be embarking on between Amsterdam and Rome.  Here are answers to some of those questions:

  • Who will be the other passengers?

A combination of Italian folks, young budget travellers, and people from Ghana (!?). I was the only person who was on the bus all the way from Amsterdam to Rome.

  • Will it be a double-decker bus?

It was not a double decker bus, to my chagrin. The view from the regular windows was nevertheless spectacular.

  • How many towns will we be stopping in? For how long?

We stopped in Den Haag, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, a highway rest stop in Luxembourg, Metz, Nancy, Strasbourg, the border of Switzerland, Milan, Bologna, and Rome. I had never heard of Metz or Nancy, and I was happy to experience them honestly. The stops were long enough for me to get off the bus, and “be” in the places.

  • Will we be driving under, or over the Swiss Alps?

A combination. Between the tunnels you are, indeed, nestled in the mountains.

  • Will it be dark outside while we’re driving through the Alps?

The deepness of night began to fade slowly in the middle of the Alps. The outlines of the mountains against the increasingly blue sky was spectacular. Sun rise came, revealing the full blown mountain landscape. I was thrilled. After several months in the Netherlands, the landscape was incredibly novel, and I almost couldn’t process how small the villages looked, stunted by the mountain ranges behind them.

  • Will Italy be hot?

It was hot. I also now understand the link between the font Times New Roman and the city of Rome.

  • Will i know when i’m in a different country?

I didn’t sleep much, and watched each country become the other — marked by signs.

__________

I am excited to be back in Toronto. There is so much going on here, and its Tall-rontoness is not limited to the downtown core. In fact, I have not been south of Bloor St since my return, perhaps revealing the truth of the suburban nature of my life-paths here.

My suburban adventures most recently brought me to #NYC (also known as North York Centre). I am amazed by the hustle of this place. It is a real Place. There is energy, and it feels good. The city that is being built is of a wholly different nature than downtown Toronto. This is no-B.S., anti-nostalgic, 21st century urbanism. The scale is undeniably huge, but it is a city, nonetheless. The scale reminded me of Manitoba, and honesty. I think the heart and soul of present-day Toronto exists here, without any filers of nostalgia or envy induced by other cities. The question is, however, will the independent survive here? There have been essays written  before about the importance of preserving the non-chain retail that remains along Yonge Street. The pressure of rent must be spectacular — will there be any semblance of place-rooted business here in 10 years? Let’s hope area’s community groups are successful in their efforts.

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Yonge and Sheppard – actually a nice place

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This little store front doesn’t stand a chance to a proposed condo development. Or does it?

My time finds me now working on my presentation for the Urban Ecologies Conference next week. I have created a studio in the attic of my parents house, high in the canopy of Toronto’s special forest ecology. I am arguing that Toronto is in Carolinia, its bioregion, and that we need to include this in the story of the city to make it a better place. That’s the short-version. The longer is to come in a future post.

Until then,

Your Urban Geographer.

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