How do you write a book about the city in which you live? Seriously. There are so many takes on London from people with countless points of view. In the last year and a half I have had a wealth of conversations with others about how they feel concerning their city. Everyone has an opinion, and a good many put forward solutions that they believe would help our city get its game back. Their energy is inspiring, but it’s also true to say that they are in the minority. While many citizens have an opinion, it doesn’t mean that the majority of them are engaged. This is London’s chief problem at present, and unless we support groups like ReThink London in its efforts to get the public back into the mix for collectively deciding upon our future as a community, then our future will be decided for us.
I wrote the book A Place For Us as a means of condensing much of what I have heard from Londoners in the past year. There are overarching themes that transcend the myriad of complaints out there and those issues must be addressed. You’ll notice in the book that I don’t name names. That’s on purpose, because I don’t think there’s any point in laying blame anymore when instead what we require are two others traits: solutions and the will to implement them.
London is like a book, with chapters, a table of contents, appendix, and pages. We are writing it everyday, whether we realize it or not. Our inactions speak volumes; our actions make up the chapters.
The preponderance of television shows and movies these days focus on average people as victims – anti-heroes in times of challenge and change. Londoners often fit right within this mould, blaming governments, politicians, corporations, media, even themselves for our collective lethargy. That is beneath us, I believe. Our parents created a meaningful and livable city; why can’t we recreate one? We are our own action figures, the modern heroes of citizen possibilities and potential. Our old heroes are experiencing trouble getting their act together, but we need not be victims to their present dysfunction. This is now our tale to write, not theirs alone. We need to start acting so at least we compose our own plot and aren’t the victims of someone else’s design. Now more than ever we have to know why we matter – if not for our children, at least for one another and the future.
And so in that sincere belief I wrote A Place For Us. It took me time to realize that it wasn’t really about my ideas; it was about you – every Londoner who possesses the potential to graduate the place where we live from a city into a community, and our peers from consumers to citizens. In the process of that great enterprise we turn ourselves from victims into the vanguards of a new age.
You can purchase the bound book from Amazon.com here, or you can download the ePub or audio book by following the links at the top of this page. No money is made from the book; it’s more or less a conversation piece. The first installment was published in the London Free Press this past weekend, with three more installments to come in the next succeeding Saturdays. You can read it here. Some copies are also available at the Red Roaster at the Covent Garden Market. Read it if you can, but above all be part of the city’s future. I was asked the other day in an interview about the book what was my main purpose in writing it. The answer is two-fold. First, I am a citizen here and I have to play my own part, regardless of how small it is. And second, the book is for discussion – a means for bringing us together to discuss the community we want. As I say in the last paragraph of the book:
“This is our own story we are writing. The plot, the characters, the situations – all of these are ours to blend together in a story that is uniquely our own. We have merely lost track of the historic narrative we once possessed. Rediscovering means that inevitably we have to rediscover one another.”
There is a place for us in London, Ontario, but it is no longer a place apart. It is about citizens collecting in the public space to fight for their quality of life together. That was always the space we were meant to inhabit; it just got away on us for the last couple of decades, that’s all. Time to get back on our game – together.