Comment 37906

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2010 at 22:22:10

The belief systems that we subscribe to may be different - but our faith is the same.

It is our sameness which will ensures that our downtown survive its worst moments, in spite of our fears.

But mere survival never bring us satisfaction. Our deeper concerns continue to push us for a revival that transcends our diverse beliefs.

A revival can only be a revival when it is economically sustainable and generates equal opportunities in real-terms for all. Not just for those who are already in our community – but also for those we have attracted and hope to retain.

The Wilson-King William area had many different kinds of beliefs working for its survival since the eighties – resulting in a public park; community support services; sanctuaries for diverse beliefs; to the most recent school and community centre – and this area is blessed for all of this, in spite of the sea of parking lots, and our collective failure to prevent the most recent loss of a piece of our history.

On King William and Catherine a different kind of belief is at work – a belief which is shaping the first -privately financed- fifty-unit condominium building. Re-branded as the FilmWork Lofts { ... }, the old building that gave us our first newspaper – has been quietly stripped of its ugly past through the winter, and is almost redeveloped and ready to bring in around fifty to a hundred of Florida’s Creative Class, starting this spring – to start living and working in the heart of Hamilton’s Theater district.

Our new believers many who are from Toronto will very soon be taking ownership of the deeply scarred area of our collective psyche – and begin to share the burdens of nurturing the re-emergence of our core.

This belief – essentially a very private leap of faith has created living wage work through this winter of a terrible economy for over fifty Hamiltonians. A leap of faith which will jump-start the Hamilton Theatre District and the King William ArtWalk project – a leap which will ensure the start of new urban assessment revenues from this area, to our City for decades to come. Revenues, which could continue supporting our many belief systems.

And if planned wisely, this area/district could also offer a clear path to reducing our city's residential assessment burden, while triggering a revival in our core – that is economically sustainable through private investments.

Both, our belief systems that facilitate survival; and personal leaps of faith such as above which are laying the foundation for a sustainable revival – are critical to making our core successful once again.

However for a strong and believable Live & Work, Theatre and Entertainment District identity / brand to evolve, which reflects the hopes and aspirations of all Hamiltonians, urban and suburban – it is imperative that our diverse beliefs and our faith not make false claims of their strengths, nor overlook their limitations.

(Two other very exciting mixed-use/commercial developments are in the works in this area also, which I cannot mention presently.)

This is why I choose to see – our new SoHo, our BaySouth District – in a sea of parking lots, and not a bombed out Birmingham. It is just plain sad to use such references, as it strips the respect and dignity from all the efforts that have been at work in this area since the eighties – to prevent exactly that.

Meredith – Thank you for the link to Cardus. I started reading "Living on the Streets" and almost choked on reading that: “The Church is the most sophisticated Institution in existence capable of delivering the visions laid out by city leaders for urban renewal.”

Thirty years of architecture, urban design and planning knowledge, and a lifetime of faith in the virtues of multi-culture flashed in front of my eyes in a split second!! :-))

I suspended my belief system and trudged along, telling myself that this is a misprint, until I finally stopped on page 18.

I apologize for this - but I simply could not continue any further after reading this: “That is the way it should be done.”!!!

(I must tell you that I stopped as much from these words – as also from recognizing the name of the person being quoted of whom I have had direct experience in a real life situation. – This is Divine irony!!)

Human failings are only to be expected in our age, but for me, this quote underscores the fragility and limitations of institutionalized beliefs.

Sophisticated institutions are the ones that have given us wars in the name of beliefs, it has given us derivatives and unconscionable bonuses, it has given us guilt, it has plundered nature to destroy societies, it has given us genocide – All born from determinism which looks you in the eye and says the same thing: “That is the way it should be done.”

Institutionalizing beliefs to alleviate human sufferings is absolutely valid and in fact the noblest of all human enterprises – but may not be the answer to our economic dilemmas in an age of complexity and dispersed learning.

Using institutionalized beliefs for purposes other than spiritual guidance, continuing the traditions of rituals and prayers, or to alleviating human sufferings and offering solace to the needy and the downtrodden – is when things begin to get complicated.

We simply have to find less sophisticated ways to celebrate and promote our beliefs.

We need to return to the deeper roots of our diverse belief systems to rediscover the simplicity of means and search for answers to our contemporary dilemmas there - and not in publications of think-tanks.

Sophisticated institutions are an antithesis to distributed knowledge. We must remind ourselves that we are living in 2010 and not in 1984 or earlier.

My original post was not about beliefs, nor about faith – it was about hope in our collective abilities to make the right choices in urban design and land-use which would result in enhanced assessment revenues; and it was about new ways of seeing and thinking which would lead to the creation of new industries in our downtown – that can usher in and support an economic revival.

It was also about our foolishness in loosing vital economic opportunities – while we continue to pursue outmoded approaches that have utterly failed to bring jobs and prosperity to our community.

Ant colonies can tell us about Emergence very elegantly – they can also show us how to build cities. For generations we believed in the myth of the ant queen, until Deborah Gordon dispelled it.

Let us learn from nature for once - and allow our common faith to guide the revival of our angst-ridden core.

Our beliefs will only be proud to see that we are in fact a resilient community, which knows how to bounce back.

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