Despite living in Canada most of my life, I had never been to Toronto before this year and now I am on my third visit in just a few months! Sitting at the table in my suite in Etobicoke [early morning preparing to co-facilitate with Beverley Pomeroy 3 days of engagement work with managers- work that includes mindmapping, personal coaching, team building, mindfulness, restorative practices, communication, problem solving, empathy, collaborative healing, circle dialogue], I look over notes I wrote on the plane regarding my impressions of Toronto. These thoughts have been stewing for a few days and though in my head the words seem to unfold lyrically and effortlessly, and I am able to put into words what these visits have meant to me- when I try to type them out, they feel stilted, underwhelming and insufficient.
I was “warned” before coming to Toronto the first time (by quite a few people actually) that my facilitation style and creative engagement methods would likely not be met with enthusiasm or warmth. That there are no trees, that the weather is shit, that it is flat and grey and fast, and angry.
I was also “warned” I would love it, relish in the speed, adore the culture and neighbourhoods, feel the buzz. And told repeatedly, please don’t move there.
There seems to be a metaphor to these Toronto trips that go beyond just travel, work, socializing.
I was lucky enough, blessed beyond words, to be hosted with immense generosity by Beverley and Catherine and staff, excited to work when visiting (which gives such in authentic experience and enriching vibe to the trips), to meet amazing people and also to be shown the magic of (what I can only call ) literary Toronto by my dear friends Matt and Owen.
Matt and Owen drenched me in history, and neighbourhoods, and culture and literature reference. So my total of 8 day (soon to be 12) view of Toronto may either be really skewed or right on the mark. Well, no matter- it’s my version, my view and I continue to be inspired by the energy of this city. I know my short visits have not allowed me to know what it is like to LIVE and STRUGGLE and GROW here, but my experience has fuelled my personal outlook and creative process. These Torontonian days are a metaphor for new chapters, new possibilities, new uncertainties and new courage at HOME and in the WORLD and in my CREATIVE PROCESS, my HEART and my MIND.
Beware! I now know a language so beautiful and lethal
My mouth bleeds when I speak it.
– Gwendolyn MacEwen
I pulled an angel card before I left home yesterday, asking for a message from mom and dad really: what this third trip means, what to pay attention to:
Some incoherent scribbles on the plane:
Neighbourhoods like the District, Kensington Market, Danforth, the Kip
Literature of MacEwen, Attwood, Ondaatje…
The Centre for Social innovation
The ravine, the bridge, the old mill
The buses and the subway
The Ontario house
Restaurants like Ruby Watch Co
Maps, maps, maps
My own room
Cheetos and Mars bars
Shakespeare in the hotel lounge
Anxiety free airplane rides
U of T
Pasting Tobey and Gwen
Paper, felt, tape and drawings
Owls and Hugs
Raise a glass to those passed, passing and newly arrived
THIS POST DEDICATED TO MATTHEW ROY, OWEN MCEWEN, CATHERINE WALLBANK, BEVERLEY POMEROY