& occasionally about other things, too...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Writing about 'New York, run by the Swiss'

Paul Vermeersch, Alissa York, Amy Lavender Harris,
Farzana Doctor & Susan G. Cole

The Atlantic has published the fourth installment of Cities of Opportunities – a joint effort by PwC and Partnership for New York City (PNYC).

The report lists “the world’s most impressive metros in a new survey of global capitals of finance, innovation and tourism,” and grades “26 cities from Stockholm to Santiago on business opportunities, culture, liveability, and innovation.”

Toronto grabs the second spot, just after New York.

My FB friend Susan Hopkinson, who’s originally from Toronto, but has made Brussels her home, explains this result thus: “Second to NYC - it makes me think of Peter Ustinov, who called Toronto ‘New York, run by the Swiss’.”

The authors of the report term Toronto as a ‘beta’ city that has all the building blocks of a superlative international city, beginning with smart ideas about sustainability and innovation.

Toronto is, indeed, a beautiful city. It’s been my home now for 34 months.

Without being immodest, I’d say that it people like me – immigrants – who make this city what it is. It’s what makes my former home Mumbai (Bombay) great, too.

The report states this explicitly. “A great city is all about growing, retaining and attracting talent. Whether it's Stockholm with its strong education system or Toronto benefiting from its smart immigration policies, getting and keeping talent matters.”

A city’s beauty is not merely its physical manifestation, howsoever impressive it may be. The beauty is in the various different ways in which its inhabitants, both old and new, make an emotional connection with it.  

As Helen Walsh, editor of TOK 6: Writing the New Toronto, says, “this shared urban environment belongs to everyone who calls it home regardless of how long they have been here, and from where they came.”

Amy Lavender Harris in Imagining Toronto says, “In the iconic Toronto novel In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje writes, ‘Before the real city could be seen it had to be imagined, the way rumours and tall tales were a kind of charting.’ With vivid language Ondaatje shows us how the city is conjured into being by acts of imagination that flesh out and give form to its physical and cultural terrain. As we navigate the city in restless pursuit of accommodation, commerce and community, we give the city meaning through narrative, through stories that help us chart a course between the concrete, lived city and the city as we understand, fear, remember and dream it.”

Lavender Harris was one of the authors who read at Writing Toronto, this month’s Brockton Writing Series. She read Parkdale, Scummy Parkdale from Imagining Toronto

The other authors in the series included Alissa York, who read from her new novel Fauna, poet Paul Vermeersch, and Farzana Doctor, who read from her new novel Six Meters of Pavement.

Susan G. Cole of Now magazine was the 'guest host' of the evening.

It was one of the most scintillating sessions in the series. 

Image from Brockton Writing Series' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150249096960786&set=o.176001662856&type=1&theater

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