The Varsity Interviews Shawn Micallef, Toronto's Flâneur Extraordinaire
In an interview with U of T's The Varsity, author/geographer/flâneur Shawn Micallef discusses his passion for walking in the city, his belief in modernization, and his conviction that, despite superficial signs to the contrary, Toronto is on the verge of greatness.
Micallef's iconic urban exploration guide, Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto, is available from Coach House. This May, look our for Full Frontal T.O.: Exploring Toronto's Urban Vernacular, a collaborative effort between Micallef and urban activist / photographer Patrick Cummins:
'Sometimes it isn’t until you read something about the place you live from someone else that you notice the things around you. There are a lot of things we overlook. I overlook things and it takes someone else to point out things they’re totally into, and then suddenly that’s part of your life.
'When you study the past and present of a city, this worry that people have about change, and this anxiety about change can be mitigated a bit.
'This idea we have of a single historic view of the city doesn’t exist. There were a series of historic moments in the past, not a city in the past in some sort of monolithic way. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t save old stuff; we should save it, old good stuff, that is, but we should be a little more sanguine about change. If there is any common defining thing about a city is that they are always changing … which makes them extremely exciting.
'We’re in a funk, but there is no other time in history I’d rather live in Toronto than now. It is the most exciting time for Toronto … because of all the new elements coming in: new Canadians, new buildings, new infrastructure. I compare Toronto to these mythic places like Paris or Berlin in the ‘20s, New York in the ‘50s … The momentum of the city is way more powerful than whatever political leaders are in City Hall.'
Read the full article here.