Two tales of a city: converging realities of culture in Toronto

Before the real city could be seen it had to be imagined, the way rumours and tall tales were a kind of charting – Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of the Lion

How do we imagine this city?
What are the rumours and tall tales charting…?
Tale One: The Soho Effect

Artists bring vibrancy, cohesion and activity into our neighborhoods – Yorkville (1960s); West Queen West (1990s); Regent Park (2000s). Real estate prices go up in Colorado. Artists – often renters – get priced out, along with other low-income residents. Artists drive the yuppification of our communities, inspiring demonic growth and displacement, the hapless victims of their own success. We are more shallow, disconnected, and cold for the loss.

 Here’s where the wrecking crew tore out the heart of the ward
No street signs remind you that a neighborhood died here before 
But things are working out well
Don’t believe what you see on the streets
No threadbare armies of men broken and dead on their feet 
No more bending your back to the weight of the world
No more sorrows, no setbacks, and no more diving for pearls in the ditches and drains
All our history’s remade and no memory remains of us now
– “History Remade” by The FemBots (2005)

“Evolution of Graffiti and Revolt” by EGR

“Evolution of Graffiti and Revolt” by EGR

Tale Two: Artistic Antidote

Artists are the antidotes to the homogenization of place. We have the knowledge and practice to leverage the power of the arts to both help artists and inclusively build the city. We can leverage ‘growth’ – the dynamism of a growing city – to counteract the displacement of artists and low-income Torontonians. We can not only creatively ‘make place,’ we can creatively keep what artists and neighbours have already made, through a combination of tenacity, collaboration and strange bedfellows, charting a real city imagined over time through deep connection and relationships.

Talking about a new way
Talking about changes and names
Talking about building the land of our dreams
His tightrope’s gotta learn how to bend
We’re makin’ new plans
We’re gonna start it again

(Rise up rise up) Oh rise and show your power

(Rise up)
Everybody
Time for you and me
– “Rise Up” by The Parachute Club (1983)

ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑎᒋᓐᓂᖅ - Piliriqatigiingniq Mural Project (Follow on Instagram @thepasystem)

ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑎᒋᓐᓂᖅ – Piliriqatigiingniq Mural Project (Follow on Instagram @thepasystem)

On November 26th, Tim Jones, CEO of Artscape, shared both of these tales of Toronto during his MaRS Global Leadership and SiG Inspiring Action for Social Impact talk.

The first tale is a story that happens to us. The power to shape the city lies with amorphous forces of real estate, gentrification, homogeneity and private profit. The city grows itself mysteriously around us, burying the sincerity of neighourhoods with ever-rising towers of glass and concrete, enriched by the cultural roots that others – now displaced – nurtured.

The second is a story that we co-author, where the tools of the arts empower us to be savvy, thoughtful brokers of the value that rich artistic communities create; we know, appreciate and foresee the value of deep, cohesive place-based culture and leverage it to creatively, deliberately and inclusively ‘keep place’ as the dynamism of city-building introduces new energy, offers, interests and investments into neighborhoods.

Both tales are true. Because these stories not only reflect what is happening, they actively generate and construct reality by shaping what we believe to be true and therefore, how we act in response.

Through the experiences of Artscape, a broker in the manner of the second tale, we learn about practical, actionable approaches and prototypes to inch away from lamenting the Soho Effect to embracing and reclaiming the artistic antidote.

While there is nothing simple about the Artscape model, in its simplest form it honours artists’ natural tendencies – to cluster, to collaborate, to invest locally and in each other, and to engage as changemakers – as a critical city-building asset and community development force.

It stands to reason that when a critical mass of people come together in a neighbourhood, everyone is drawn to this, creating a strong, powerful push for residential development – Tim Jones (in presentation)

This powerful push for residential development that follows where artists thrive is the carrot for development deals to accommodate artists, make space for low-income residents and accommodate urban growth at the same time.

In other words, it is an opportunity to innovate urban growth that Artscape first began playing with in the 1990s. Their innovation: work with the city, community members, and developers together to manifest prototypes of creative place-keeping into public-private development deals. How? By taking advantage of a little extra density, inclusive zoning and a new tale about the imperative role of cultural value-creators –artists – to ensure they and other low-income community members remain in community.

You can build all kinds of social capital and social infrastructure, because in part together we are creating a multibillion-dollar market for residential development – Tim Jones (in presentation)

If we understand how culture creates value for urban development (and if we know that the value is predictable, as it has been throughout Toronto), we can shift from advocating for creative place-making as an endangered need to deliberately and effectively appreciating culture as a critical lever for creative place-keeping – a fundamental case for more community and artistic ownership in public-private development deals.

Tim calls this engaging in culture as a form of “urban acupuncture” – engaging in small- scale, neighbourhood-level innovation to have a city-wide (city-building) impact.

There can be healing in cities by stimulating ‘nerves’ (creative, original expression) and ‘releasing pressure’ (through unusual partnership or collaboration) to create transformation…charting a new reality where self-interest compels policymakers, developers, community activists and artists to put culture at the heart of city building.

Let the beat of the drums harmonize with the beat of your soul
And let it travel miles.
Even if you are spiritually drained as you dance, as you dance, just smile.
Smile until you forget sadness and laugh at anger.
Until you can look into the eyes of anyone as a future brother
And not a stranger.
To invest in relationships you don’t need to be a banker.
– “Spectrum of Hope” by Mustafa Ahmed

Art – music, poetry, installations, painting, craft, writing – is “the quickest and easiest way to get back to something that makes you feel tied to where you are, and who’s around you, and who came before you, what they were doing” (Philip Churchill, The Once). It is how we imagine the city, how we engage in it, understand it and connect to a through-line of histories woven into this place.

Converge the realities.
Ice, wind, pain
Love, sun and rain.
Converge the realities.
Past, present and future.
– “Converge the Realities” by Charmie Deller

Watch Tim’s Talk: Culture as Urban Acupuncture (Full Video)

MaRS Global Leadership: Culture as Urban Acupuncture from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.

Preparing for Surprise: Innovation Week

Just 10 years ago, the world economy plunged into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

What a difference a decade makes.

While builders are not producing the number of new builds that they were 11 years ago, design and technology have advanced significantly.

In 2018, the editors of Yachts International attended the most prestigious yacht shows in the world and visited numerous shipyards to see the latest launches. The following are our picks of the year’s best builds, finest designs and most impressive technology.

Best New Motoryacht | 80 meters+

Winner: Oceanco/Dar

Oceanco M/Y Dar (Francisco Martinez)

Oceanco M/Y Dar (Francisco Martinez)

The 295-foot (90-meter) Oceanco Dar is decidedly different from the traditional white superyacht. With exteriors by DeBasto Design, Dar has an aggressive profile characterized by an unprecedented use of glass. The glass allows for an innovative layout with sweeping views from almost everywhere on board. Her interior, by Valentina Zannier, head of Nuvolari Lenard’s interior design department, follows a nature theme. Every detail of the furnishings is implemented with a high level of design, artistry and craftsmanship.

Oceanco M/Y Dar (Francisco Martinez)

Oceanco M/Y Dar (Francisco Martinez)

Best New Motoryacht | 50-80 meters

Winner: Tankoa/Solo

Tankoa M/Y Solo

Tankoa M/Y Solo

Designed inside and out by Francesco Paszkowski, with an interior collaboration with Margherita Casprini, the Tankoa-built, 236-foot (72-meter) Solo is the next generation of the yard’s 226-foot (69-meter) Suerte, which launched in 2015. Solo has a 42,796-gallon (162,000-liter) fuel capacity with an estimated range of 6,000 nautical miles at 12.5 knots. With her long waterline, she reaches top speeds of 17.5 knots. The main engines are equipped with Eco Spray SCR, which significantly reduces emissions, according to the builder. The yacht is also equipped with a carbon monoxide monitoring system, which lets the captain adjust speed to keep emissions at a minimum. Find out why this is the best yacht rental in the hamptons.

Honorable Mention: Turquoise/GO

Best New Motoryacht | 30-50 meters

Winner: Rossinavi/Flying Dagger

Rossinavi M/Y Flying Dagger

Rossinavi M/Y Flying Dagger

Rossinavi’s 161-foot (49-meter) Flying Dagger is sporty and fast with exterior design by Team for Design/Enrico Gobbi. With her water-jet propulsion, she reaches a top speed of 31 knots and has a cruising speed of 24 knots.

Rossinavi M/Y Flying Dagger

Rossinavi M/Y Flying Dagger

Much research went into making her quiet with little vibration. The modern interior by Lazzarini Pickering is light, bright, minimalistic and artistically well appointed. According to the Rome-based designers, the interior concept was to have the feeling of water from every corner.

Honorable Mention: Arcadia 105 

Best New Motoryacht | 20-30 meters

Winner: Pearl 95

Pearl 95

Pearl 95

Pearl Yachts has been edging its way into the big-boat market, and it has reached that threshold with this 95-footer (29-meter). Designed by Dixon Yacht Design (exterior) and Kelly Hoppen (interior), this innovative yacht combines many features found in a much larger yachts, such as a beach club, balconies and a luxurious interior. Sole-to-ceiling, opening side doors flank the main salon. There are accommodations for 10, plus quarters for five crew, making this vessel an all-around good-looking and practical package.

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