Comment 81498

By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2012 at 11:16:49 in reply to Comment 81492


What BIA holds a royal flush of prefab narratives and easy memes (eg. street of immigrants; reform of a Mafia enclave; crime-ridden street saved by the arts; hip millenials seeing worth in the gritty city; next chapter of an historic street; boot-strappy rust belt renaissance; the next Brooklyn/Montreal/Parkdale) predigested for marketing and media ends? What BIA so neatly encapsulates the “creative class” prescriptions of pop economist Richard Florida, whose theories municipal leaders around the world have taken to like crack cocaine? How many BIAs have had a promotional newspaper publish monthly for four years? How many BIAs stage promotional events that draw an audience of thousands a dozen or more times a year, with self-replicating FOMO buzz rippling out through smartphones to the local social media ecosystem? What BIA manages to get its main thoroughfare closed four days a year? What BIA stages a multi-day street festival with national exposure, GO Train service, an iPhone app and an organizer that was shortlisted for management of Hamilton Place? What BIA gets an equivalent volume of press exposure (roughly equal to the total amount given to the city’s 13 officially acknowledged BIAs)? In how many BIAs would the mundane act of opening a store of any description trigger conspicuous media coverage within a month of ribbon-cutting? How many BIAs benefit from the multi-million public resuscitation of a long-dormant heritage building, and the benevolent attention of the city's tourism department resident therein? How many have a free tourist shuttle roll through during every hour of daylight during summer months? How many have a CBC outlet embedded in their midst? And how many benefit from the presence of a businessperson who also serves as Chair of the Hamilton Club (the city’s elite private club, whose members are regional leaders in politics, business, law, healthcare, technology, education and culture)?

It is frankly difficult to imagine another neighbourhood advocacy group in the Hamilton CMA that brings a more unified focus, more highly evolved media strategies, more harmonious political allegiances or more consistent community engagement to the task of neighbourhood development. Despite the folktales about an organic, almost accidental renaissance with a big-bang origin in a single storefront, the James North story is in fact an orchestral movement that draws momentum and resources from a diverse set of stakeholders across multiple decades and a spectrum of disciplines. The profile of the neighbourhood reflects JFK’s sentiment that victory has a thousand fathers.

The other half of that quote, of course, is that defeat is an orphan. And while we can and should admire what has transpired on James North, and while City Hall is deeply invested in making that neighbourhood a poster child for the city’s rebranding efforts, the greater success will be in our city’s ability to rejuvenate neighbourhoods that aren’t awash in advantages, communities that haven’t found the golden ticket. Such as Landsdale. Such as Gibson. Such as Kenilworth. Such as Parkdale.

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