Loving where you live, madly and passionately

Paul Bedford, former Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, has been quoted saying you need to make mad, passionate love to your city. I know what you’re thinking – that dude is crazy. But to be honest, I actually think he’s right.Everyone is intimately involved with the place where they live – relying on services, infrastructure, and critical community resources to simply stay alive let alone to thrive.

For example, most of us need to be hooked up to a water system, the electrical grid, and have access to a grocery store just so we’re prepared to face the day. But looking at our relationship with our city from the standpoint of water, electricity, and a grocery store is kind of dull and boring – it’s like going on a date with a 5 instead of a 10 (on an overall scale, not just the looks-scale. There’s no room for vanity in the business of dating cities). And its basic math: 10 > 5

So, what makes a city a 10? What makes a city a place that you want to make mad, passionate love to?

Well, first you should know what you want out of your city – is that the freedom and flexibility to travel using safe, comfortable, and reliable modes no matter your age or ability? Is that having recreation spaces that are maintained in all seasons and programming suited to your age and interests? Is that having choice in housing options? Is that having employment, education, innovative opportunities to create your livelihood? Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s all those things that make up your dream city. What’s important here is knowing what you need from your city to thrive – what you need to love your city. And then, you get to work.

You see, being in a loving and passionate relationship with your city is just like a relationship with a person – it’s a two-way street. You get what you put in. And it can be hard work.

You’re going to have to communicate: Share your vision with the people who make decisions, get involved the public consultation process, start a neighbourhood advocacy group. There are several ways to have your voice heard.

You might need to make big gestures: Do something tactical-urbanism-esk to show your city its potential.

Tell your city when they’re getting things right: Send nice tweets; everyone loves a complement.

Take your city dates: Grab a coffee and walk around or go for a bike ride. Exploring your city in a new way can change your perspective.

And that’s just the beginning of the hard work. But once you find your groove you’ll be surprised how you fall in mad, passionate love with the place where you live.

This post was inspired by Melody Warnick’s new book: This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live

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