Local Motion: The Art of Civic Engagement in Toronto Book Review
By Elli Davis, June 21, 2011
Local Motion: The Art of Civic Engagement is, if I can say so without blushing, a good book. Toronto is a city in which a lot of movements play their part — music, art, architecture, nature — but, for some reason or other, politics is not always close to the heart of the average Torontonian. Maybe we feel like we did not have an informative introduction to local politics. At any rate, a handbook for educated city-dwellers to make their mark ought to be in their hands.
The authors, a mostly impressive list of politicians and journalists, have collected articles with titles like “Taking a Schein to City Hall” and “Teaching the City of No to Say Yes.” There’s a variety of viewpoints that fall into three basic categories: stories to inspire you, information about Toronto and guides for the average citizen to get involved. The guides taught me some things I did not know — mostly about the workings of our political system, but what I enjoyed most was the opinions given.
Which is a little odd, because normally political opinion can be best descibes as "tiresome" in the country about which Leonard Cohen once said “had no government, only a stag party you’re glad you’re not invited to.” But that’s just the point: Local Motion is a push against the fog of hopelessness in Toronto’s politics. The thesis is that Toronto’s politics should be Torontonians’ politics. As the Orwell-heavy introduction says, “There is a failure of those who rule to truly acknowledge those who live in the city as anything more than the projections of their own fears.”
The essays are compelling. “Why are we ‘consumers’ and ‘taxpayers’, not ‘citizens?’” asks Glen Murray. (Though, to be fair, under Harper, we are always ‘the people of Canada’ — for all the good it does us.) Local Motion is a more personal book than it seems — although, at first, it will have Torontonians happily reading rather than politically active.
Local Motion: The Art of Civic Engagement in Toronto Details:
- edited by Dave Meslin, Christina Pallasio and Alana Wilcox
- 224 pages, Paperback
- List price $22.95
- available at Amazon (online price at $16.57)
- ISBN-10: 1552452387