I'm back with the latter half of my top ten suggestions for any urban-dweller to love their city. You can read the first five here.
6. Be political.
Don't misread this or hear what I'm not saying. You don't have to be actively involved as a politician to do this! But the reality is, to love your city means to participate in the democratic processes we enjoy as Canadians (or Americans, or whoever you are :). Vote in elections, know the candidates and their platforms, be educated on the issues at stake, and encourage your neighbours to do the same. Montreal is a hot bed for political interest/scandal/change and it only makes sense that as a Montrealer, I would be aware and active as best I can.
7. Be festive!
Cities host the world and the towns, villages, and suburbs flock to the cities to see the world. Be a part of it! Know what bands are coming to town and invite your neighbours to join you at concerts. Note the dates for your favourite festivals and be sure to attend. Being a part of the rich cultural landscape that cities afford is a surefire way to fall in love when everything your city has to offer. For us, we set aside a budget to do this exact thing. This year Brad went to Of Monsters and Men (I passed since I'd already seen them in Toronto and we couldn't find a babysitter!) and we have tickets to see Sigur Ros this Spring. We're excited for Winter Fest this February and are inviting families from Brad's hockey team to join us. And this summer, it's Jazz Fest or bust!
|Jazz Fest, source|
One, often sacrificial way, to love your city is to buy from the local growers, farmers, artists, and businesses. It may cost more, as I've written before, but you've investing in your city and that counts for something greater than the cents and dollars you'll save. Every city has Starbucks, but only your city has niche, local, unique cafes. They're one of a kind, often tastier, a lovelier experience, and usually the same price as mega-cafe Starbucks. Every city has IKEA, but only your city has certain struggling artists who are inspired by the same streets and parks as you are. Why not buy one piece of their art instead? I could go on, but I think you get the point.
9. Raise your family there.
I've written about raising kids in the city ad nauseum (see posts here, and here for example) and I won't be stopping any time soon because it's that important to me. Cities are incredibly young and have absolutely no innocence. A family is a true gift to a city, because it counteracts both of those problems. When you decide to raise your family in the city, you're laying down roots not just until your next contact is up or you finish your next degree, you're laying down roots for LIFE.
You're refusing to leave just because you're turning a certain age and want to settle down in a more comfortable manner. You're committing to a place where no one commits. And you're teaching your children to do the same as they follow your footsteps. One aside: children are an incredible blessing to the city. Because they are indeed so rare, I can't seem to leave the house without receiving smiles from the hardest faces and comments from the busiest and rushed passersby. Particularly with the homeless population, who likely have zero family, my children are an enormous joy. Of course, we are protective, but even just a wave or a blown kiss from a child can be a very penetrating gesture.
Cities are a place where people rush in to consume. Cities often boast the best schools, opportunities, and companies, so it makes sense that people flock to cities to get ahead, start over, or make a name for themselves. And when they have what they want, they leave. Likely the most important way you can love your city is to serve your city. You may think you love it for the opportunities, but that's just lust. To love your city is to serve your city. Give your time and your money and your skills and yourself.