Comment 39146

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 11:12:26

Interesting comments Ryan, and from my perspective, not without a little irony. The main reason I stopped reading RTH (until I started relying on GoogleReader to filter out the good bits) was because I got the exact same feeling from interacting with you, Jason et al. on the website. I also know I'm not the only one because I've had a bunch of pretty interesting (in-person!) discussions with Beasley-ites who feel the same way. For the most part there's too much talking past one another, and that's not a good expense of anyone's time.

From the crypto-NIMBYism ("I'm not a NIMBY, but if X or Y happens here, I'm leaving!), to the reductionist approach to urban planning (bikes and transit = #1!), to the obsession with decaying heritage buildings, to the fairly homogeneous group of contributors who reinforce the echo-chamber mentality of the blog's comment section (voting dissenting views into oblivion), there appears to be a complete blindness to the diversity inherent in this pretty decent (one day, great?) city of ours. Your points about bridge building are incredibly prescient, and everyone could probably learn a lot from them.

You write,

"Activists on the left spend too much time critiquing the hell out of each other and highlighting violations of doctrine instead of finding commonalities and working together to make tangible improvements."

Guilty as charged, but surely the ideological purity/know-it-all-ness that is constantly on display on the website could be similarly toned down to open doors to Hamiltonians who aren't ardent cyclist/transit/heritage/art-community junkies. In our own backyards, downtown, there are plenty of citizens and business people reflecting the diversity of this city's roots who can and should be engaged, not with an appeal to Hamilton's weak-points, but with a willingness to listen to the concerns that effect them and their vision for the city (warning: it might involve cars, parking, or bars on James N., or poor people living downtown, or whatever). Also, it might involve going out and creating a community in the real-world, in addition to the one you've created online.

As you rightly point out, the goal isn't to get things right "the first time," but to take the time to get things right in a way that reflects diverse opinion, and that attempts to move a big-tent of people towards some mediated common ground. Compromise shouldn't be a bad word: it's what makes politics work, and is the difference between an engaged citizenship and a cynical one that snipes from the sidelines advocating for some perfected version of the city that just isn't possible.

Anyway, great article, Ryan--it made my Friday. Have a great weekend!

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