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where all the people go?

the prettified lachine canal, rising from its ruins
this past weekend, i got to spend a few days doing something that i'd forgotten i enjoy: playing tour guide.

of course, it helps when you're doing this during the summer, since showing people around montreal in january can be deeply unpleasant, but it was a good opportunity for me to ponder how much the urban core of the city has flourished since i first moved her fifteen years ago. although it's far from perfect, i'm quite proud of the work done to keep montreal's centre strong. yes, there are increasing numbers of people fleeing for the suburbs and there are social issues that accompanying gentrification of any neighbourhood, but downtown montreal [and the plateau and mile end and the old city] have blossomed from some roots that looked pretty dubious when i first laid eyes on them.

reinvented offices in old montreal
one of the reasons that i appreciate this is because i've lived in two other cities that seem strangely indifferent, if not outright hostile to their downtown hubs. although there will always be things going on in the centre of toronto, the city seems determined to do what it can to make it as difficult as possible to get in and around, while i'm consistently deflated when i visit halifax to see the stretches along main thoroughfares dwindle while businesses decamp for suburban industrial parks.

there are reasons for these urban declines: toronto's suburban population massively outnumbers those in the city and, in every electoral issue, their voices will dominate; halifax's awkward geography makes it difficult to get traffic into the city centre and years of socially suspect urban planning have created barriers to better city living.

i'm a fan of cities and of the diversity that urban culture tends to bring. nothing against the country, but for someone who's imaginative, liberal and easily bored, i've found the urban environment to be a healthy match. and i'm glad to know that montreal, despite its considerable shortcomings in other areas [*cough*] has done things like make the lachine canal into a walkable/ bike-able urban oasis. i'm always curious to hear what other cities are doing and what they're doing better. in canada, approximately 80% of the population lives in urban areas, which means that we'd all better start learning from the success stories as quickly as we can.

Comments

Jen said…
I have always wanted to visit Montreal. Several of my friends used to go up to parktake in activities that an 18 year old could do there but not here in Boston. I never went though.

PS - They are all down in Massachusetts. I see so many Quebec license plates!
flora_mundi said…
Montreal has a lot going for it (at any age). I wouldn't dream to say that we've solved our urban problems, but I do appreciate living somewhere that isn't ashamed to admit it's a big, diverse city.

Personally, I've always wanted to see Boston, but I've never managed to take the trek down.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

dreamspeak

ok, so i've been lax about posting here. i apologise. there are reasons. i don't know if they'ree good reasons, but they include:


i've had a lot of work to do, which is nice because i'm a freelancer and things tend to slow down in the summer, so the more work i get now, the less i have to worry about later [in theory].i started watching the handmaid's tale. i was a little hesitant because i didn't actually like the novel very much; i found it heavy-handed and predictable. the series relies on the novel for about 80% of its first season plot but i nevertheless find it spellbinding. where i felt that the novel beat readers with its politics, the series does a better job of connecting with the humanity in the midst of politics. i'm dithering on starting season two because i am a serial binger and once i know damn well that starting the second season will soon consign me to the horrors of having to wait a week between episodes. i don't know if i can han…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…

making faces :: written in the stars [in lipstick]

are themed collections of things you like dangerous to you? once you've started down a rabbit hole, does it become a necessity to complete the set, lest you be left forever feeling like something is missing from your life? are you interested in lipsticks? then stay away from the astrology by bite collection/ series that is rolling out month by month throughout 2018.

the collection is pretty much exactly what you think it is: a lipstick a month inspired by the zodiac sign that begins in that month. a lot of people are interested in getting the one for their own sign. but that's not me. i'm interested in collecting the whole damn thing. it helps that bite's amuse bouche lipstick formula is one of the nicest on the market and that i've been weeding through my collection of lipsticks to find those that have started to "turn" [smell like crayons or grow dry] so that in theory, i have room to add more. [you have enough lipsticks for three people who wear lipsti…