Suburbs, downtowners, and big thanks to the folks at @ethnicaisle | #TOpoli

Catholicbridge

Energetic and informative gathering at the 519 Centre this evening on the “downtown/suburban divide.” 

Can’t possibly hope to capture the whole event in a single post, but let’s affirm the intrinsic value of events such as this by getting the ball rolling on more of them. Privileged downtown white guys like me need to hear more. Too many lessons in tonight’s discussions to list here, but one of the things that stood out, for me at least, was the power of established narratives.

Tricky things, those. They don’t have to be true or even factual to be powerful, but it’s important to recognize that the narratives we cling to don’t necessarily influence our neighbours. And the reasons for that have roots in race, ethnicity, class, gender, neighbourhood design, and a host of other factors that don’t necessarily impact everyone’s everyday lives.

Getting a sense of the other person’s experience and stepping beyond the comforts of familiar narratives is hard work, but in this context, it’s also a privilege, and I’m grateful for the chance. The long game, one hopes, is in building coalitions, mutual respect and understanding, and in making connections that bridge the gaps we discussed this evening. Events like this are an essential part of the groundwork.

Once again, big hat tip to Denise Balkissoon,  Navneet Alang and Canice Leung for organizing. 

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