October 21, 2016

Reasons to wander.

We bought a house, just a few days ago. We don’t move in for another couple of months, but the paperwork has been signed and the furniture shopping has already begun.

The house is in a new neighborhood, a part of the city I don’t know at all. I’m excited to spend the time exploring the new area on foot, wandering through the streets and popping into the shops and restaurants. I’m excited to walk down sidewalks and say hello to my new neighbors, to learn more about the history of the neighborhood and its inhabitants.

I know that I will stick out; I live in a predominantly white town, and this new neighbourhood, while rapidly diversifying, still reflects the reality of the city. I don’t expect that my difference will cause any problems, but sometimes I hear comments like that of the Peel Region Chief of Police—she claimed in a recent interview that people walking in neighbourhoods that are not their own are suspicious—and I worry.

Like Shawn Micallef, I know that the best way to really understand where you live is to walk:

The only way we can understand this country and the different ways we live is by exploring it and bumping into other Canadians. Adding a layer of paranoia to that act creates a dysfunctional relationship.

I have many new reasons to wander. I hope that this attitude of fear and profiling doesn’t hold me back from my pedestrian adventures to come.

The new neighborhood, like the vast majority of this city, isn’t as pedestrian-friendly as most of the other cities where I have lived. Sidewalks are narrow and often missing, car lanes are wide and  speed limits are high, and while it’s possible to walk to many amenities, the walk isn’t a short one.

I’ll still do my best to walk everywhere, but it won’t be as easy as I’d like it to be.

Creating a pedestrian friendly city and neighbourhood should be top of mind for our civic leaders:

When cities create environments that encourage physical activity and moderate the use of cars, they improve the well-being levels of their residents, a new report shows. In effect, investments in walking, biking, parks, and transit are investments in health outcomes.

Residents in the most active cities have lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression, and higher rates of exercise and healthy eating compared to communities with low Active Living scores. The strongest correlations were generally between park and bike scores and health, as opposed to the transit and walking indicators and health.

I’ll keep finding reasons to wander, and keep my fingers crossed the city starts to move in a direction that encourages that wandering, too.

A few more diversions, gathered:

The baseball season is over for my two favorite teams—the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays—but the World Series is just around the corner. Next year, I’m hoping to get season tickets to the local semi-pro ball team and spend my summer afternoons sitting in the stands, keeping the box score on paper like I did when I was a kid.

It has been a while since I last subscribed to a literary magazine. Nick Ripatrazone’s 20 reasons why you should read literary magazines may have convinced me to resubscribe to one: Literary magazines are a slow world. The world of larger magazines is swift — and while there are clear benefits to swiftness, there’s something to be said for waiting. To learning that literature has rarely been instantaneous.”

Donald Trump’s despicable comments about women have made this rape culture syllabus, quite important, recently. Lots of important, insightful reading on this list.

How do you stay in touch with a dear friend after they die? In the future, those who pass on may live forever through artificial intelligence; in fact, it’s already starting to happen right now.

A powerful, striking advertisement for the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Touching, empowering.

This is how you make a campaign ad. Can’t believe we are only three weeks out from the election.