Transcript: Falling in Love with the 6ix | Aug 07, 2018

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a green blazer over a black shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Falling in love with the 6IX. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says MAYBE YOU'RE ONE OF THOSE
PEOPLE WHO LOVES TO HATE TORONTO
OR MAYBE YOU'RE PART OF THAT
GROWING CONTINGENT THAT'S BEEN
WON OVER BY THE CHARMS THE CITY
WHERE THE STUDIO SITS.
OUR NEXT GUEST IS PROBABLY ONE
OF THE FEW WHO HAVE EXPLORED
EVERY CORNER THAT THIS CITY HAS
TO OFFER.
SHAWN MICALLEF IS THE EDITOR OF
THE
TORONTO STAR,
AND THE AUTHOR MOST RECENTLY OF:
FRONTIER CITY: TORONTO ON
THE VERGE OF GREATNESS.

Shawn is in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short blond hair. He's wearing black-framed glasses, a light gray coat, and a lilac polo shirt.
A picture of a book appears briefly on screen. The cover features an aerial view of Toronto, with the CN Tower in the middle. The title reads "Frontier city. Toronto on the verge of greatness."

Nam continues AND HE JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.
SHAWN, IT'S NICE TO SEE YOU.

Shawn says GOOD TO SEE YOU.

Nam says I KIND OF STALK YOU ON TWITTER.
I REALLY LIKE SEEING ALL THE
THINGS THAT YOU DO.
ALL THE PLACES THAT YOU GO
THROUGHOUT TORONTO SO IT'S NICE
TO HAVE YOU HERE.
THANKS, IT'S NICE TO BE HERE.
SO WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE
SUCH A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP
WHEN IT COMES TO TORONTO?

The caption changes to "Shawn Micallef. Spacing Magazine."
Then, it changes again to "World class?"

Shawn says I THINK TORONTO, IT'S THE
BIGGEST CITY SO IT'S A DYNAMIC
THAT EXISTS.
I FOUND THAT IT EXISTS IN
ENGLAND, WITH LONDON, IN FRANCE,
WITH PARIS.
YOU KNOW, THE BIG CENTRE THAT
GETS ALL THE ATTENTION THAT,
THERE'S A BIT OF A BRAIN DRAIN
FROM SMALLER PLACES.
PEOPLE GO TO THE BIG CITY.
IT HAS THE SPORTS TEAMS, IT HAS
THE, YOU KNOW, THE TOWERS.
IT HAS SOME OF THE PROSPERITY
AND SO THAT DYNAMIC EXISTS, YOU
KNOW, ALL OVER THE PLACE AND I
THINK BECAUSE CANADA IS A
SMALLER COUNTRY, POPULATION
WISE, THAT GETS KIND OF CRANKED
UP A LITTLE BIT AND MAYBE WE
FEEL IT MORE HERE.

Nam says DO YOU THINK THAT IT'S US, THE
PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN TORONTO,
THE GTA, THAT ARE PUTTING ON
THESE AIRS LIKE, YOU KNOW,
"WE'RE BETTER THAN
EVERYBODY ELSE?"

Shawn says WELL, IT'S FUNNY.
YOU WON'T HEAR SOMEBODY RUNDOWN
TORONTO MORE OFTEN THAN ACTUALLY
IN TORONTO, RIGHT?
AND SO THERE'S THIS IDEA FROM
THE OUTSIDE THAT, "OH, THOSE
TORONTO PEOPLE, THE SNOOTY
WHATEVER, FULL OF THEMSELVES,
SELF-ABSORBED."
AND YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT
GOING ON HERE SO THERE'S A LOT
TO PAY ATTENTION TO.
IT ABSORBS OUR ATTENTION.
BUT THE FIRST PERSON TO SAY, YOU
KNOW, "TORONTO IS NOT AS GOOD AS
THIS PLACE," OR "TORONTO IS
UGLY."
IN MY TRAVELS, IT'S LIKE THIS
KIND OF UNDERCURRENT I FEEL
THAT'S WANING.
BUT IT'S THERE SO I DON'T THINK
SO.
I THINK TORONTONIANS HAVE... CARE
ABOUT THIS PLACE.
THEY PAY ATTENTION TO IT AND
MAYBE FROM THE OUTSIDE, THAT
FEELS LIKE, "OH, THEY'RE ONLY
PAYING ATTENTION TO TORONTO
THINGS."

Nam says IT'S BEEN INTERESTING SEEING THE
BRANDING OF THE CITY.
I LEFT TORONTO IN 2004, WORKED
OVERSEAS, CAME BACK IN 2011.
WHEN I CAME BACK, IT WAS LIKE A
BRAND.
YOU KNOW, TORONTO THE 6IX AND
PEOPLE, TORONTO IS HOME.
AND THEN TORONTO ENDING UP ON
ALL THESE DIFFERENT LISTS OF THE
BEST PLACES TO VISIT, BEST
PLACES TO LIVE.
DO WE DESERVE THE HYPE?

The caption changes to "Shawn Micallef. Author, 'Frontier City.'"

Shawn says WELL, I THINK SO FOR SURE.
IT'S AN INTERESTING PLACE AND
IT'S A DYNAMIC PLACE AND IT'S AN
EXCITING PLACE.
IF YOU THINK IT IS BORING, YOU
HAVEN'T GONE OUT AND CHECKED IT
OUT, RIGHT?
YOU HAVE SOME PRECONCEIVED
NOTION OF MAYBE 20 YEARS AGO
WHEN IT WAS IN THE DOLDRUMS
DURING THE RECESSION OF THE
'90S OR THOSE KIND OF
POST-AMALGAMATION BLUES BUT
YEAH, IN THE LAST MAYBE 15
YEARS, THERE'S BEEN THIS ALMOST
RENAISSANCE, RESURGENCE OF LOVE
FOR THE CITY OR MAYBE SOME OF
IT'S BRAND NEW.
FROM INDIE PROJECTS, FROM LIKE
LOCAL BANDS SINGING ABOUT
TORONTO TO LITTLE PEOPLE MAKING
T-SHIRTS ABOUT TORONTO AND ALL
SORTS OF DIFFERENT, YOU KNOW,
KNICKKNACKS TO SOMEBODY LIKE
DRAKE.
AT THE SUPERSTAR LEVEL TALKING
ABOUT TORONTO, SHOOTING THESE
REALLY SEXY VIDEOS ABOUT
TORONTO, NAMING IT THE 6IX.
SO THE IDEA OF TORONTO KIND OF
WAS VAULTED INTO THIS SORT OF
STRATOSPHERE THAT IT HAD NEVER
BEEN BEFORE.
THERE'S A LOT OF HUMAN STORIES.

Nam says WHEN YOU SET OUT TO WRITE IT,
DID YOU SET OUT TO WRITE ABOUT
TORONTO OR THE FORD BROTHERS
WHICH, YOU KNOW, APPEAR
THROUGHOUT THE BOOK?

The caption changes to "Big city."

Shawn says YEAH, SO WHEN THIS BOOK WAS
PITCHED TO ME BACK IN 2014,
WE WERE IN THE MAYORAL ELECTION
AND ROB FORD WAS STILL RUNNING
FOR OFFICE AND IT WAS JUST AFTER
ALL THE DRAMA THAT WE KNOW
ABOUT NOW.
YOU KNOW, YOU HAD CNN TRUCKS AND
BBC REPORTERS AT CITY HALL.
YOU KNOW, TORONTO IS IN THIS
KIND OF POLITICAL DRAMA I THINK
THE ENTIRE WORLD WAS SEEMING TO
BE PAYING ATTENTION TO.
AT LEAST JIMMY KIMMEL AND THAT
SORT OF THING AND THE BOOK WAS
SORT OF PITCHED LIKE, "WE GOTTA
GET ON TOP OF THIS."
BUT IT IMMEDIATELY BECAME CLEAR
TO ME THAT THE MORE INTERESTING
STORY WAS, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT
THIS INTERESTING CITY THAT'S
REALLY DIVERSE, THAT HAS FOUR
UNIVERSITIES, FOUR COLLEGES.
ENDLESS PANEL DISCUSSIONS ABOUT
ITSELF.
THE LIBRARIES FILLED WITH ROW
AFTER ROW OF BOOKS AND STUDIES
ON ITSELF.
IT'S AN INTELLECTUAL CITY.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE
THAT VOTED IN A POPULIST AND
MIGHT VOTE HIM IN AGAIN SO I
WENT FOR WALKS IN NEIGHBOURHOODS
WITH UNDERDOG CANDIDATES RUNNING
FOR CITY COUNCIL.
SO SORT OF THE SUB-RACES THAT
EXISTED IN THE SHADOW OF THE
MAYOR'S RACE TO TRY TO GET A
SORT OF ON-THE-STREET FEEL OF
WHERE THE CITY WAS AT AND WHERE
IT WAS GOING.

Nam says WHY DID YOU CHOOSE UNDERDOG, AS
YOU CALL THEM, CANDIDATES?

Shawn says CITY COUNCIL IS AN INTERESTING
BEAST BECAUSE INCUMBENCY IS
REALLY POWERFUL.
NAME RECOGNITION IS EVERYTHING
AT THE LOCAL LEVEL SO IF
SOMEBODY SEES THEIR CITY
COUNCILLOR'S NAME ON THE BALLOT,
YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE BUSY.
THEY DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TIME TO
INVEST IN CITY POLITICS OR
FOLLOWING RACES SO IF THEY SEE A
FAMILIAR NAME, THEY MIGHT VOTE
FOR HIM OR HER AGAIN.
IF THAT PERSON HELPED WITH AN
ISSUE ON THEIR STREET, WHETHER
IT WAS A POTHOLE OR A SIGNAGE
ISSUE OR SOMETHING OR A
NEIGHBOUR'S FENCE, THEY BECOME
VERY LOYAL TO THEM SO IT'S VERY
HARD FOR NEW BLOOD TO GET INTO
CITY HALL.
AND I THINK THOSE RACES
SOMETIMES BECOME ABOUT KEEPING
POWER WHEREAS UNDERDOGS ARE
STARING UP AT POWER AND
CRITIQUING IT SO THEY HAVE AN
INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE, PEOPLE
WHO ARE RUNNING FROM KIND OF
GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGNS.
TRYING TO UNSEAT THE POWERFUL
AND THEY... THEY'RE THE ONES THAT
COME UP WITH... OR FIND THE FAULT
LINES, I THINK, IN THE CITY.

Nam says I THOUGHT IT WAS INTERESTING
ABOUT ALL THE DYNASTIES IN CITY
COUNCIL IN TORONTO THAT I DON'T
THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE AWARE
OF.

Shawn says YEAH, YOU KNOW, WE DON'T THINK
OF OURSELVES AS ALMOST
MONARCHIST SORT OF FAMILY
DYNASTY PLACE BUT ON THE LEFT
AND THE RIGHT, THERE'S, YOU
KNOW, SITTING COUNCILLORS RIGHT
NOW WHOSE PARENTS WERE CITY
COUNCILLORS AND THAT'S NOT
NECESSARILY BAD, RIGHT?
SOMETIMES IT'S A FAMILY BUSINESS
AND IF YOU WERE RAISED IN A
POLITICAL HOUSEHOLD, YOU MIGHT
NATURALLY GO INTO POLITICS.
BUT YOU CAN SEE HOW IT SORT OF
BECOMES INSULAR ACROSS THE
POLITICAL SPECTRUM AND AS YOU
MENTIONED, IT HAS THE LOWEST
LEVEL OF VOTER TURNOUT OF THE
THREE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT IN
CANADA AND THERE'S A SAYING THAT
I'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO PINPOINT
WHO SAYS IT BUT IT GETS PASSED
AROUND A LOT.
IT'S A BIT OF A GENERALIZATION
BUT IT GETS TO WHY MUNICIPAL
POLITICS IS SOMETIMES SO
IMPORTANT.
IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
STOPPED, WE MIGHT NOT NOTICE IN
A MONTH BECAUSE IT'S DEALING
WITH HIGH-LEVEL INTERNATIONAL
THINGS.
IF THE PROVINCE STOPPED, MAYBE
IT WOULD TAKE A WEEK BUT IF THE
MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT, YOU KNOW,
SHUT DOWN, WE'D NOTICE...

NAM SAYS IN DAYS.

Shawn says LIKE THE LIGHTS WOULD FLICKER.
THE GARBAGE WOULD PILE UP.
THE WATER WOULD STOP.
SO IT'S THIS INVERSE
RELATIONSHIP OF AN INCREDIBLE
AMOUNT OF OVERSIGHT OVER
DAY-TO-DAY LIVES AND REALLY LOW
VOTER TURNOUT AND PARTICIPATION.

Nam says AND I MENTIONED TO YOU BEFORE WE
STARTED TAPING THIS SHOW THAT I
LIVED IN TORONTO FOR 20 YEARS.
AND A LOT OF THE PLACES THAT YOU
WENT TO IN THE BOOK, I DIDN'T
EVEN KNOW THEY WERE THERE.
I'VE NEVER BEEN THERE.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

Shawn says THAT YOU CAN LIVE IN A CITY BUT
NEVER BE TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF IT.
I MEAN, TORONTO'S CELEBRATED AS
A CITY OF NEIGHBOURHOODS,
WHICH IS GREAT.
IF YOU LIVE IN A FULLY
FUNCTIONING NEIGHBOURHOOD IN
TORONTO, YOU CAN DO ALL YOUR
BUSINESS THERE.
MAYBE YOU EVEN WORK IN YOUR
NEIGHBOURHOOD.
YOU CAN SHOP THERE, YOU CAN PLAY
THERE, YOU CAN HANG OUT IN THE
PARK.
ALL THAT STUFF, SO IT'S VERY
EASY AND THAT'S HOW IT SHOULD
BE, RIGHT?
SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET IN A
CAR OR TRAVEL AN HOUR ON THE
SUBWAY TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
NOT EVERYONE HAS THAT... LIVES IN
NEIGHBOURHOODS LIKE THAT IN
TORONTO.
THERE'S SOME THAT DON'T HAVE ALL
THOSE SERVICES BUT IF YOU LIVE
IN ONE, IT'S VERY EASY TO KIND
OF BECOME, YOU KNOW, NOT LEAVE
THOSE CONFINES.
AND TORONTO'S ALSO REALLY BIG.
IT'S 44 KILOMETRES WIDE.
THAT'S GETTING INTO LIKE LOS
ANGELES SIZE, RIGHT?

Nam says AND YOU MENTIONED THAT THERE'S
150 OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED
NEIGHBOURHOODS?

A map pops up titled "Toronto by neighbourhood." It shows all the neighbourhoods in the GTA.

Shawn says YEAH, AND THAT KIND OF CHANGES,
YOU KNOW.
LIKE A NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD MIGHT
SPRING UP.
YOU KNOW, MIGHT GET A DIFFERENT
NAME.
THESE THINGS ARE REALLY
INTERESTING EVOLUTIONS OF HOW
PEOPLE SEE THEIR LOCAL AREA BUT
150 NEIGHBOURHOODS.
HOW DO YOU EVEN... IF YOU'RE
RUNNING FOR MAYOR, OR IF YOU'RE
JUST A CITIZEN OF TORONTO TRYING
TO GET YOUR HEAD AROUND IT, HOW
DO YOU GET YOUR HEAD AROUND 150
DISTINCT NEIGHBOURHOODS, YOU
KNOW?
IN THIS INCREDIBLY WIDE
GEOGRAPHY.

Nam says BUT DO SOME MAYORS ACTUALLY EVEN
CARE?
OR DO YOU JUST FOCUS ON THE
AREAS THAT MAYBE ARE IMPORTANT
FOR YOUR ISSUES?

Shawn says I THINK AT THE MAYORAL LEVEL,
YOU HAVE TO FOCUS ON A COUPLE
ISSUES THAT SOMEHOW HAVE A
RESONANCE ACROSS THE CITY.
AND THAT'S AGAIN, WHY IT'S
INTERESTING TO WALK WITH LOCAL
CANDIDATES BECAUSE THEY'RE THE
ONES WHO KNOCK ON ALL THE DOORS.
THE MAYORAL CANDIDATES KNOCK ON
DOORS BUT IT TENDS TO BE LIKE A
PHOTO-OP OR, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE
NOT ON THE STREET EVERY DAY
WHERE A LOCAL CANDIDATE HAS TO
ENDLESSLY WALK AND WALK AND
WALK.

A map shows Toronto's wards pre 2018.

Shawn continues AND SOME OF THESE WARDS ARE
MASSIVE THEMSELVES AND WHEN I
SHADOWED SOME OF THEM, JUST KIND
OF FOLLOWED BEHIND THESE PEOPLE
RUNNING FOR GOVERNMENT, IT'S
REALLY INTERESTING, THESE
CONVERSATIONS YOU GET BECAUSE
PEOPLE OPEN THEIR DOOR TO THEM.
SOMETIMES THEY SLAM THE DOOR,
SOMETIMES THEY SWEAR AT THEM.
BUT WHEN THEY OPEN THE DOOR AND
START TALKING ABOUT THEIR
DAY-TO-DAY LIFE, YOU GET THIS
INSIGHT THAT I THINK THE MAYORAL
LEVEL DOESN'T HAVE AND... BUT THEN
YOU ALSO GET THIS UNDERSTANDING
OF HOW THE CITY WORKS BECAUSE
THE SMELLS OF THE APARTMENT OR
THE HOUSE COME OUT AND YOU SEE
WHAT THE PERSON'S IN THE MIDDLE
OF, YOU KNOW, IN THEIR BUSY DAY
AND THAT WAS REALLY... I LEARNED A
LOT FROM FOLLOWING THESE FOLKS
AROUND.

Nam says AND SOMETHING ELSE THAT I
LEARNED, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING
THAT I'VE OBSERVED ALSO IN
TORONTO IS THAT THERE ARE ALL
THESE LITTLE LIKE LOCAL AREAS
POPPING UP.
LIKE YOU HAVE LIBERTY VILLAGE,
YOU HAVE LIKE THE JUNCTION,
WHICH I KNOW HAS BEEN AROUND BUT
LIKE WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE
CREATE THESE LIKE MICRO
IDENTITIES WITHIN A BIG CITY
LIKE TORONTO?

Shawn says WELL, SOME OF IT COMES FROM
BRANDING.
SOMETIMES NEIGHBOURHOODS ARE
BRANDED BY THE LOCAL BUSINESS
IMPROVEMENT AREA.
AND THEY'LL GIVE A NAME TO THE
NEIGHBOURHOOD.
SOMETIMES THAT'S CONTROVERSIAL
BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE
MIGHT THINK THERE'S A MORE
HISTORIC NAME OR THEY DON'T LIKE
THAT NAME SO THOSE ARE
INTERESTING THINGS BUT I THINK
PEOPLE LIKE TO BE IN A PLACE,
RIGHT?
WHEN YOU NAME A PLACE, WHEN YOU
CELEBRATE YOUR PLACE, IT
BECOMES... IT LIVES IN YOUR
IMAGINATION.
YOU DON'T LIVE JUST NOWHERE, YOU
DON'T LIVE PASSIVELY AND I THINK
THOSE ARE REALLY EXCITING
THINGS.
ESPECIALLY LIKE A PLACE LIKE
LIBERTY VILLAGE IS REALLY
INTERESTING.
IT'S MALIGNED BY A LOT OF PEOPLE
WHO DISLIKE CONDOS OR THINK IT'S
TOO DENSE, WHATEVER.
DOUG SAUNDERS,
THE GLOBE AND
I THINK, ON THE GARDINER AND HE
WAS LOOKING AT ALL THOSE LIBERTY
VILLAGE CONDOS AND HE SAID,
"THAT LOOKS LIKE THE UPPER WEST
SIDE OF MANHATTAN."
AND I WAS LIKE, "YEAH, IT
DOES."
AND NOBODY IN NEW YORK SAYS...

Nam says "I HATE LIVING IN THE UPPER WEST
SIDE."

Shawn says "THERE'S TOO MANY PEOPLE ON THE
UPPER WEST SIDE.
IT'S TOO DENSE."

NAM SAYS YOU'D NEVER HEAR THAT.

Shawn says NO, BUT HERE, IT'S LIKE, "OH,
LIBERTY VILLAGE IS TOO
CROWDED."
IT HAS PROBLEMS.
IT HAS TRANSIT PROBLEMS.
MAYBE IT NEEDS SOME BETTER
PUBLIC SPACE, THAT SORT OF THING
BUT WHEN I GO THERE NOW, IT'S
FILLED WITH PEOPLE AND IT'S
FILLED WITH PEOPLE INTO THE
NIGHT.
BECAUSE THERE'S A FEW...

NAM SAYS YOU CAN WALK EVERYWHERE.

The caption changes to "Shawn Micallef, @shawnmicallef."

Shawn says YEAH, AND THAT'S KIND OF A
NEIGHBOURHOOD, RIGHT?
AND THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE
OKAY WITH LIVING IN APARTMENTS
AND I THINK IN TORONTO, WE'RE
GETTING USED TO BEING AN
APARTMENT CITY VERSUS
WHAT IT TRADITIONALLY WAS,
A SINGLE FAMILY HOME CITY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Nam says AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN BY GOING
TO THESE DIFFERENT WARDS?
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE
CITY?

The caption changes to "Toronto the beautiful."

Shawn says I LEARNED THAT SOMETIMES THOSE
BIG ISSUES THAT WE TALK ABOUT,
YOU KNOW, CITY BUILDING ISSUES,
IF YOU'RE KIND OF INVOLVED IN
CITY POLITICS, DON'T OFTEN
RESONATE ON THE STREETS.
AND THERE MIGHT BE SAY, CITY
COUNCILLORS THAT WE, AND I'LL
SAY DOWNTOWN PERSON WHO PAYS
ATTENTION TO CITY POLITICS.
WHY DOES THIS NEIGHBOURHOOD VOTE
FOR THIS BUFFOONISH CHARACTER
WITHOUT NAMING NAMES BECAUSE I
COULD NAME A FEW NAMES.
AND WE CAN ALL NAME OUR
DIFFERENT COUNCILLORS THAT WE
THINK, "WHY IS THAT PERSON
ELECTED?"
BUT THE RELATIONSHIP PEOPLE HAVE
WITH THEIR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE
IN A CITY IS OFTEN ABOUT THE
PROVISION OF SERVICES.
IT'S ABOUT, "WAS THE GARBAGE
PICKED UP?"
"ARE THOSE POTHOLES FILLED IN?"

NAM SAYS IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOOD?

Shawn says IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD.
AND IF THOSE THINGS ARE TAKEN
CARE OF AT THE CITY LEVEL, A
PERSON CAN... A POLITICIAN CAN GET
A LOT OF AFFINITY FROM THEIR
CONSTITUENTS.
AND I THINK SOMETIMES THAT LEVEL
OF THE CITY WE FORGET IF YOU'RE
INVOLVED IN CITY PLANNING
BECAUSE IT'S SEXIER TO TALK
ABOUT THESE KIND OF GRAND
WATERFRONT PLANS AND TEARING
DOWN THE GARDINER AND SUBWAYS
AND LIGHT RAIL AND ALL THESE
KIND OF BIG, ALMOST LIKE
MYTHOLOGICAL PROJECTS OF
BUILDING THE CITY UP.
AND YOU HAVE TO BALANCE THAT BY
WHILE DOING THIS.
WATCHING THESE PEOPLE TALK AT
THE DOOR, WITH THE DAY-TO-DAY
LIFE OF THE CITY.
AND THAT'S WHY I THINK IT WAS
INTERESTING DURING THE ROB FORD
ERA WHEN THE FORD BROTHERS TOOK
AIM AT THE LIBRARY.
THEY WERE LIKE, "WHY DO WE HAVE
SO MANY LIBRARY BRANCHES?
NOBODY USES THE LIBRARY."
BUT IF YOU GO INTO THE LIBRARY,
YOU IMMEDIATELY SEE THAT'S NOT
TRUE.
AND THAT WAS ONE OF THE EARLY
PUSHBACKS THAT WAS GRASSROOTS.
AND IT HAPPENED ACROSS THE CITY,
DOWNTOWN, IN THE SUBURBS,
BECAUSE THAT WAS A LOCAL ISSUE.
PEOPLE WHO USE THEIR LIBRARY
KNOW HOW IMPORTANT IT IS.
AND WHEN YOU TRY TO TAKE THAT
AWAY FROM THEM, THERE IS THIS
REVOLT ALMOST, AND THE FORD
BROTHERS REALLY BACKED AWAY ON
THAT ONE QUICKLY.
AND THAT WAS KIND OF AN
INTERESTING MOMENT AS WELL.
AND ANOTHER LIGHT BULB THAT
THESE LOCAL ISSUES, YOU GOTTA
REALLY LOOK AT THE
NEIGHBOURHOODS AND WHAT PEOPLE
CARE ABOUT AND BALANCE THAT WITH
THOSE BIGGER PROJECTS.

Nam says WE CAN'T TALK ABOUT TORONTO
WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT REAL
ESTATE BECAUSE YOU WENT INTO
NEIGHBOURHOODS THAT SOME PEOPLE
CAN SAY THAT COUNCILLORS
DOWNTOWN IGNORE.
DID YOU FIND NEIGHBOURHOODS THAT
HAVE CERTAIN REPUTATIONS THAT
DON'T DESERVE THOSE REPUTATIONS?

Shawn says ABSOLUTELY.
NEIGHBOURHOODS... IT'S ALMOST LIKE
BEING IN HIGH SCHOOL AND HOW, IF
YOU GET A NAME... I'M THINKING
BACK TO MY HIGH SCHOOL.
IF YOU GET A REPUTATION FOR
WHATEVER...

NAM SAYS MINE WAS FOUR EYES.

[LAUGHTER]

Shawn says I THINK I MAY HAVE HAD THAT ONE
TOO.
AND IT STICKS WITH YOU FOREVER.
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO SHAKE AND
INTERSECTIONS AND GEOGRAPHY AND
NEIGHBOURHOODS ARE LIKE THAT
TOO.
YOU KNOW, THERE MIGHT HAVE BEEN
AN INCIDENT OR TWO OR THREE LIKE
BAD INCIDENTS, LIKE THINGS YOU
HAVE TO CARE ABOUT BUT THEY WERE
MOMENTS IN TIME AND THE
DAY-TO-DAY LIFE OF THAT PLACE IS
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, RIGHT?
I REMEMBER WHEN I FIRST MOVED TO
TORONTO IN 2000, I WOULD START
GOING FOR LONG BIKE RIDES TO SEE
THE CITY.
AND I'D ALWAYS, EVEN GROWING UP
IN WINDSOR, I'D HEARD OF JANE
AND FINCH, JANE AND FINCH.
IS LIKE THE...
AND I RODE TO JANE AND FINCH AND
THERE WERE TWO MALLS ON THE
CORNER AND HIGH RISES...

NAM SAYS LOTS OF TREES.

Shawn says AND LOTS OF TREES AND IT KIND OF
LOOKED LIKE CANADA TO ME.
I WAS EXPECTING THIS KIND OF
MAYBE IT WAS LIKE
THE WIRE:
SOME KIND OF AMERICAN DYSTOPIC
HOLLYWOOD... THAT WAS THE WAY IT
WAS BUILT UP.
BUT IT WASN'T AND THAT'S NOT TO
SAY THERE AREN'T SOCIAL ISSUES
'CAUSE THERE ARE BUT THE
DAY-TO-DAY LIFE THERE IS WORLDS
AWAY FROM THAT REPUTATION.
AND THAT'S WHY IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO GO VISIT THESE
PLACES AND WALK AROUND THEM AND
SEE THEM FOR YOURSELF.
AND THOSE BAD REPUTATIONS, THEY
SORT OF EVAPORATE PRETTY
QUICKLY.

Nam says YOU MENTIONED SHOPPING MALLS.
ARE THEY AS IMPORTANT AS THEY
USED TO BE?

Shawn says WELL, I THINK SO.
I'M PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN
TWO FORMS OF THEM.
ONE IS THE KIND OF SMALLER
MALLS.
THE MALLS THAT AREN'T THE EATON
CENTRE OR THE PLACES THAT ALL
THE BIG CHAINS IMMEDIATELY COME
TO.
I'M THINKING ONE...

NAM SAYS GALLERIA MALL?

Shawn says GALLERIA MALL.
THERE'S SHERIDAN MALL, WHICH IS
AT JANE AND WILSON AND A NUMBER
OF THESE OTHER ONES THROUGHOUT
THE INNER SUBURBS, AS WE CALL
THEM, AND THEY SORT OF BECOME DE
FACTO COMMUNITY CENTRES.
ALBION MALL IS REALLY
INTERESTING IN REXDALE IN NORTH
ETOBICOKE.
IF YOU GO THERE, YOU'LL SEE
SENIORS HANGING OUT BECAUSE
SENIORS HAVE NOWHERE TO HANG
OUT.
SENIORS... IT'S ALMOST LIKE YOU'RE
A TEENAGER AND YOU'RE AWKWARD
AND SOCIETY DOESN'T WANT YOU AND
YOU JUST KIND OF... YOU HAVE TO
FIND YOUR OWN PLACE TO HANG OUT
AND THEN WHEN YOU BECOME RETIRED
AND YOU'RE A SENIOR, YOU BECOME
A TEENAGER AGAIN BECAUSE NOBODY
WANTS YOU AND SO YOU GO TO THESE
SMALLER MALLS AND YOU GO TO THE
FOOD COURT AND IT'S ALL OLDER
FOLKS HANGING OUT.
AND I WAS TALKING TO SOMEBODY AT
ONE OF THE ADJACENT COMMUNITY
CENTRES AND THE MALL ACTUALLY
APPROACHED THEM AND SAID,
"WE HAVE TOO MANY SENIORS HERE.
CAN YOU GUYS DO SOMETHING?
CAN YOU START A SENIORS
PROGRAM?"
SO... AND IT HAS TO DO WITH CANADA
BEING A WINTER CITY.
TORONTO BEING A WINTER CITY.
THESE ARE PLACES INDOORS.
THEY'RE WARM, YOU CAN GET CHEAP
COFFEE AT THE TIM HORTONS OR
SOME OTHER CHAIN, SMALLER CHAIN.
AND THOSE ARE KIND OF
INTERESTING SPOTS TO GO AND
PEOPLE RUNNING FOR OFFICE WILL
GO TO THESE MALLS BECAUSE THAT'S
WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE.

Nam says WELL ONE... AN IMPORTANT THING
THAT YOU MENTIONED IN THE BOOK
WAS PEARSON AIRPORT AND THE
PEOPLE WHO LIVE AROUND PEARSON
AIRPORT.
WHEN WE HAD BISHOP AIRPORT,
THERE WAS A LOT OF MEDIA WAS
COVERING IT.
PEOPLE DIDN'T WANT IT.
BUT THEN THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE
AROUND PEARSON AIRPORT, WHICH IS
AN IMPORTANT ECONOMIC HUB FOR
NOT JUST THE CITY BUT THE
PROVINCE, IT DOESN'T GET THE
SAME KIND OF ATTENTION?
WHAT DO THOSE KIND OF HUBS OFFER
THEIR SURROUNDINGS?

Shawn says WELL, THERE'S AN INCREDIBLE
AMOUNT OF JOBS THERE SO LIVING
CLOSE TO EMPLOYMENT... AN
EMPLOYMENT ZONE IS KIND OF
GREAT.
WHEN YOU LEAVE PEARSON AND YOU
KIND OF COME INTO THE CITY, YOU
GO BY SOME REALLY BIG DENSE
APARTMENT NEIGHBOURHOODS LIKE
ALONG DIXON ROAD, WHICH ARE
ONLY LIKE A KILOMETRE OR TWO
FROM THE AIRPORT.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THOSE
TOWERS WILL WORK AT THE AIRPORT.
AS ONE OF THE CANDIDATES I
WALKED WITH IN THAT
NEIGHBOURHOOD SAID, YOU KNOW, A
LOT OF THE JOBS ARE DEAD-END
JOBS THOUGH, AND THEY DON'T
HAVE, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF
ADVANCEMENT.
THEY MIGHT BE A LITTLE BIT
PRECARIOUS.
SO THAT'S A PROBLEM BUT THAT
PROXIMITY TO WORK AND HOME IS
KIND OF AN INTERESTING EVOLUTION
OF THE CITY 'CAUSE IF YOU WERE
TO GO BACK 30 YEARS AGO, 40
YEARS AGO, YOU WOULD NEVER THINK
THAT THAT PART OF THE CITY WOULD
BE A CENTRE.
YOU KNOW, A PLACE THAT PEOPLE
WOULD GO TO FOR WORK.
AND IT'S CHANGED REALLY QUICKLY
SO THESE ARE LIKE THE LANDSCAPES
OF TORONTO.
TORONTO... THE IDEA OF TORONTO IS
THAT SKYLINE SHOT OR CITY HALL,
RIGHT?
BUT FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, AN
AWFUL LOT OF PEOPLE, MAYBE MOST
PEOPLE IN THE CITY, THAT'S NOT
THE TORONTO THAT THEY LIVE
DAY-TO-DAY.
IT'S A TOTALLY DIFFERENT
LANDSCAPE.

Nam says AND YOU CALL TORONTO AN INVERSE
SAN FRANCISCO.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Shawn says THE FORMER DEAN OF THE DANIELS
FACULTY OF LANDSCAPE, LARRY
RICHARDS, AT U OF T.
HE HAD THIS GREAT WAY OF SAYING
TORONTO IS SAN FRANCISCO UPSIDE
DOWN.
WHEREAS SAN FRANCISCO HAS THE
HILLS, WE HAVE THE RAVINES.
AND IF YOU... MAYBE... WE ALSO HAVE
KIND OF CUTESY VICTORIAN HOMES
IN SOME NEIGHBOURHOODS SO THOSE
TWO THINGS KIND OF MATCH.
WE ALSO BOTH HAVE AN INCREDIBLY
EXPENSIVE REAL ESTATE MARKET AND
IT'S REALLY HARD TO LIVE IN
THESE CITIES.
BUT IF YOU KIND OF PUT THEM
TOGETHER, MAYBE THEY WOULD FIT.
THE HILLS WOULD GO INTO THE
RAVINES BUT IN SAN FRANCISCO,
THE HILLS, YOU CAN SEE THEM ALL
THE TIME.
THEY'RE IN FRONT OF YOU.
YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH THEM SO
THEY BECOME MORE MYTHOLOGICAL
WHEREAS IN TORONTO, THE RAVINES
ARE, YOU KNOW, BELOW GRADE.
YOU HAVE TO GO DOWN INTO THEM
AND THEY SOMETIMES HAVE A
SINISTER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
CITY.
OR A SINISTER MYTHOLOGY BECAUSE
SOME OF OUR AUTHORS LIKE TO USE
THEM AS THESE KIND OF DARK
LABYRINTHINE TYPE PLACES.
SO THEY'RE NOT, I THINK, AS
CELEBRATED AS RICHLY BUT THEY
SHOULD BE, AS SAY, THE HILLS OF
SAN FRANCISCO.

Nam says AND THE RAVINES, ARE ALL
TORONTONIANS ABLE TO ENJOY THEIR
LOCAL RAVINES?

Shawn says IT'S AN UNEQUAL ACCESS.
I THINK THE RAVINES ARE A BIT
LIKE TRANSIT IN TORONTO.
EVERYONE'S SUPPOSED TO BE WITHIN
10 MINUTES OF A TRANSIT STOP.
WHETHER THAT WORKS OUT ALL THE
TIME...
BUT PEOPLE LIVE WITHIN A PRETTY
CLOSE PROXIMITY TO A RAVINE
UNLESS YOU'RE DOWNTOWN AND WE
BURIED THE RAVINES BUT THEN YOU
CAN GO TO THE WATERFRONT.
BUT... SO THAT PROXIMITY TO THESE
KIND OF REALLY WONDERFUL NATURAL
SPACES, THESE KIND OF ALMOST
CLICHÉD CANADIAN SPACES WHERE
YOU CAN SEE A DEER WALKING DOWN
AND SOMETIMES... THERE'S SIGNS IN
THE MIDDLE OF TORONTO THAT SAYS,
"BEWARE OF COYOTES" BECAUSE THEY
COME DOWN THE RAVINE SYSTEM.
BUT IF YOU'RE IN SOME
NEIGHBOURHOODS, ESPECIALLY
DOWNTOWN ONES, IT'S VERY EASY TO
ACCESS THEM.
THERE'S SIGNS, THERE'S PEOPLE
ALMOST INVITING YOU INTO THE
RAVINES.
AND SOME OF THE NEIGHBOURHOODS I
WALKED IN IN SCARBOROUGH AND IN
NORTH ETOBICOKE, AND NORTH YORK,
THAT ACCESS ISN'T THERE.
IT'S... YOU WALK DOWN PATHS THAT
ARE KIND OF BROKEN.
THERE'S FENCES.
IT'S NOT AS WELCOMING AN
ENVIRONMENT THOUGH IT'S AS
BEAUTIFUL AND SERENE DOWN THERE
AND PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE THAT
RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM.
BUT WE'VE...

NAM SAYS IT'S KIND OF SEGREGATION ON
A DIFFERENT LEVEL.

Shawn says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

Nam says YOU MENTIONED A NAME THAT I
THINK ALL TORONTONIANS SHOULD
KNOW.
I DIDN'T KNOW IT UNTIL I READ
YOUR BOOK.
R.C. HARRIS.
WHO WAS HE?

Shawn says HE WAS THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC
WORKS BACK IN THE TEENS
AND '20S.
AND HE WAS SORT OF ONE OF THE
ORIGINAL CITY BUILDERS OF
TORONTO, TO USE THAT PHRASE
AGAIN.
HE WAS THE GUY BEHIND THE PALACE
OF PURIFICATION, THE R.C. HARRIS
FILTRATION PLANT AT THE END OF
QUEEN ST. IN THE BEACHES.
THE BEAUTIFUL ART DECO THING
WHERE THEY SHOOT A LOT OF
MOVIES.
HE WAS THE GUY THAT BUILT THE
PRINCE EDWARD VIADUCT.
YOU KNOW, ATTACHING BLOOR STREET
TO THE DANFORTH.
THIS GORGEOUS, YOU KNOW, ARCHED
BRIDGE AND THAT OPENED, I THINK,
A FEW DECADES BEFORE THE SUBWAY
WENT THROUGH BUT HE HAD THIS
KIND OF VISION TO BUILD IT IN
SUCH A WAY THAT WHEN THE SUBWAY
DID COME, THEY COULD, YOU KNOW,
PUT THE TRAINS UNDERNEATH THE
ROADWAY.

NAM SAYS THAT'S VISIONARY.

Shawn says IT'S VISIONARY AND IT'S BUILDING
BEAUTIFUL THINGS.
AND WHEN YOU GO BACK AND LOOK AT
SOME OF HIS POLITICAL FIGHTS,
HE WAS KIND OF FIGHTING SORT
OF THE SAME THING PEOPLE ARE
FIGHTING TODAY.
THAT THIS KIND OF PARSIMONY,
THIS CHEAPNESS IN TORONTO.
THAT NOBODY WANTED TO SPEND THE
MONEY TO MAKE THE CITY
BEAUTIFUL, TO MAKE IT WORK.
TO MAKE IT ANTICIPATE THE GROWTH
THAT IT WAS GOING TO HAVE.
IT'S FUNNY LIKE YOU HEAR IN
1930S OR 1920S, THE POLITICAL
ARGUMENT, IT COULD BE 2018.
BUT THESE THINGS THAT HE BUILT,
AND THERE'S RESERVOIRS AROUND
THE CITY... ST. CLAIR
RESERVOIR... THAT ARE
BELOVED, RIGHT?
THESE SYMBOLS OF TORONTO.

Nam says YEAH, I MEAN, IT'S KIND OF LIKE
HE LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR WHAT
TORONTO IS.
SO WHY ISN'T THAT NAME KNOWN
MORE?

Shawn says I THINK TORONTO... IT MIGHT EVEN
BE A CANADIAN THING BUT TORONTO
FOR SURE DOESN'T DO A REALLY
GOOD JOB OF SELF-MYTHOLOGIZING
ITSELF.
YOU KNOW, WE DON'T TELL THE
STORIES THE WAY SAY, AMERICAN
CITIES DO.
YOU KNOW, AMERICAN
CITIES... AMERICAN PEOPLE POSSIBLY
ARE JUST BETTER AT LIKE ROBUSTLY
SHOUTING OUT THESE GRAND STORIES
AND BUILDING UP THEIR MYTHOLOGY.
AGAIN, SOMETIMES WHETHER IT'S
TRUE OR NOT...
BUT WE'RE A LITTLE LESS GOOD AT
THAT.
AND IT HAPPENS... IT'S HAPPENING
BUT IT JUST HAPPENS SLOWER.
AND ALSO, I THINK, THERE'S JUST
A TRADITION OF SOMETIMES... AND IT
MIGHT BE A COLONIAL THING.
COLONIAL HANGOVER IN THAT, YOU
KNOW, THE IMPORTANT STUFF ALWAYS
HAPPENS SOMEWHERE ELSE.
LONDON.
IF YOU WALK AROUND THE CITY OF
TORONTO, WHAT DO YOU SEE?
YOU SEE STREETS NAMED AFTER OLD
DEAD BRITISH GUYS.

NAM SAYS DUKE, KING STREET,
QUEEN... YEAH.

Shawn says AND STATUES TO THEM AND SO ALL
THE NAMES THAT YOU SEE ON THE
STREET, KING, QUEEN, BATHURST,
YONGE.
THESE ARE ALL REFERENCES TO THE
COLONIAL POWER.
AND SO I THINK THEY TAKE PEOPLE
MAYBE CONSCIOUSLY,
SUBCONSCIOUSLY, I DON'T KNOW,
OUT OF THEIR LOCAL AND THROW
THEM OUT THERE.
SO THAT MIGHT KIND OF ADD TO
THAT.
AND I THINK THAT'S CHANGING OVER
TIME.
I TEACH AT U OF T AND MY
STUDENTS HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT
VIEW, I THINK, OF TORONTO THAN
THE ONE THAT I MOVED INTO.
THAT KIND OF BABY BOOM OLDER
GENERATION AND MAYBE EVEN KIND
OF GEN X.
THE KIDS WHO ARE 17 AND 18, THEY
DON'T REMEMBER... THEY WERE BORN
AFTER AMALGAMATION SO THERE'S
ONLY BEEN TORONTO OF, YOU KNOW,
THAT GOES FROM PICKERING TO
MISSISSAUGA.
AND I THINK MAYBE... AND BECAUSE
DRAKE ETC., ALL THESE THINGS.
I THINK... I GET THE FEELING THAT
THEY WON'T HAVE THESE SAME... THIS
UNDERAPPRECIATION WON'T BE AS
DEEP IN THE NEXT GENERATION.

Nam says WELL, I MEAN, AT THE RISK OF
BIGGING YOU UP, TO SAY, I THINK
THIS BOOK IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
BECAUSE YOU TALK ABOUT THE
HISTORY.
YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING
NOW AND WHY WE SHOULD ALL BE
AWARE OF, YOU KNOW, WHY WE
SHOULD BE INVOLVED.
AND I ALSO FOUND IT REALLY
INTERESTING THAT BEFORE ROB FORD
WAS ELECTED TO MAYOR, YOU WERE
ACTUALLY AT ONE OF THE BARBECUES
IN 2010 AND I WANTED TO KNOW,
WHY DID YOU GO?
THIS WAS BEFORE HE BECAME MAYOR.
LIKE WHAT COMPELLED YOU TO GO TO
THAT?

Shawn says YEAH, THIS WAS 2010.
HE'D BEEN A COUNCILLOR FOR 10
YEARS AND AGAIN, PEOPLE THOUGHT
HE WAS A BUFFOONISH CHARACTER
FROM SOMEWHERE IN NORTH
ETOBICOKE.
ALWAYS SAYING FUNNY THINGS,
SOMETIMES OFFENSIVE THINGS.
SOMETIMES DEEPLY OFFENSIVE
THINGS, ALWAYS VOTING AGAINST
ANY... WHAT I MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT
WAS A GOOD PROGRAM.
AND SO HE WAS STARTING TO
HAVE... HE WAS RUNNING FOR MAYOR,
WHICH WE THOUGHT WAS A BIG JOKE.
AND FUNNY, HA-HA.
AND THEN HE WOULD START HAVING
THESE THINGS CALLED FORD FESTS
IN HIS MOM'S BACKYARD.
LARGE BACKYARD ON A RAVINE OFF
OF ROYAL YORK ROAD IN ETOBICOKE.
AND IT WAS SEPTEMBER, IT WAS A
BEAUTIFUL NIGHT.
I THINK IT WAS TIFF WAS GOING
ON.
SO ALL THE GLAMOROUS PARTIES
DOWNTOWN.

NAM SAYS SO YOU DECIDED TO GO TO THE
OPPOSITE SIDE.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda."

Shawn says YEAH AND MY FRIEND... AND I TALKED
OURSELVES INTO IT.
"LET'S GO TO THE FORD THING AND
SEE WHAT THAT'S LIKE."
AND SO WE WENT OUT AND AS WE
WERE GOING UP ROYAL YORK ROAD
THE TRAFFIC WAS NUTS.
WE FOUND A PLACE TO PARK, THERE
WERE KIDS IN FORD T-SHIRTS
DIRECTING PEOPLE IN.
AS WE WERE WALKING DOWN THE
STREET, IT'S A DEAD-END STREET
TO HIS MOM'S HOUSE.
IT FELT LIKE THOSE PICTURES AT
WOODSTOCK YOU KNOW, WHEN ALL THE
HIPPIES HAD TO ABANDON THEIR CAR
AND WALK.
AND IT WAS LIKE, "OKAY, THIS
MIGHT BE A THING."
AND THEN WE ROUNDED THE CORNER
INTO THE BACKYARD JUST AS ROB
FORD WAS GOING ON STAGE TO "EYE
OF THE TIGER" AND THERE WERE 2
OR 3,000 PEOPLE IN HIS MOM'S
BACKYARD AND IT WAS LIKE,
"UH OH. I GOT THIS WRONG.
THIS GUY IS A FORCE
AND WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN
PAYING ATTENTION."

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

NAM SAYS BUT YOU KIND OF GOT IT
RIGHT BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE.
BUT SHAWN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
BEING HERE.
FANTASTIC BOOK.

Shawn says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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