Of Babies and Economic Development.
To be the best place in Canada to:
a) raise a child,
b) promote innovation,
c) engage citizens, and to
d) provide diverse economic opportunities.
In attempting to deconstruct this broad aspiration, one ends up confronting two dilemmas. One, as a city, we simply fail to have consensus on what we mean by "place" - and given Hamilton's nature, in all probabilty we will never have consensus around such line of thinking. And the second, is that this broad aspiration ends up forcing readers of this message to presume the age group and ethinicity of the "child" based on their desires/preferences/biases.
As is seen from the range of comments, our understanding of the word 'place' pulls our read of such aspiration all over the map - that from rural, to suburban, to urban imagery.
So, even before we can get to the age and cultural background of this 'imaginary child' for whom we are attempting to define this city, we have already begun to squabble over our desires/preferences/biases of an 'ideal place' for this child to grow up in.
Now I don't know whether it was Dr Bart's ingenuity or the fact that all consensus driven exercises always generate more flux than focus - but we have somehow come to wear this 'vision sentiment', and as a city, we now own it.
We can choose to discard it as some have suggested here and start from scratch, or attempt to infuse clarity into its words which we are struggling to define for ourselves.
In the end, no matter what outsiders make of such a verbal projection, we as Hamltonians must first develop a common understanding of the 'words' that holds such sentiments together.
It is foolish to think a different set of words, or a new and better crafted set of words will give us the unified identity we lack presently.
If words and slogans had the power to build cities, we would have continued to be an "Ambitious city".
It is not that we lost our ambition, over time, we just ended up believing in the power of words to define us - rather than believing in actions which could very easily create new realities for us.
Isn't it our predeliction for new slogans that got us into this trouble in the first place? We must have lacked something deep inside? What was it? for we were simple not content with what we already had: "Together Aspire - Together Achieve".
A brilliant motto, a mission that clearly spelled out what the spirit of this city stood for over generations. We could have leveraged this into a vision of being just an "ambitious city" once again, given the "evocative" foundation of our motto - which continues to hold its validity even when we chose to forget its meaning.
Did we simply get bored with being ambitious? Or did we think we had acheived it all and did not need to be reminded of it anymore?
Or is it that we simply did not understand the meaning of "Together", or "Ambition" and hence set on a search for "descriptives" (which we were told was a mission/vision thing) - like our name sake the other Hamilton in Bermuda which came up with the unwieldy: "Hamilton sparsa collegit" i.e. "Hamilton has assembled the scattered" !!
We settled for: "Hamilton - the Best Place in Canada to Raise Babies"... and into an -assembly of scattered egos around parochial turfs- which we mistook for 'pride of place', -- we threw in innovation... citizen engagement... and gratuitously, even ...diverse economic opportunities!
Meanwhile, we continue to exclude those whom we called to come, and are already here - babies, parents and even grandparents. We patronize them. We typecast their lives into submission everyday by our mighty born in Hamliton malaise.
Is it any surprise that even after we were given an eloborate vision after much council sweating - we as a community are still in search of something, anything, to define us.
Get back to "Together Aspire - Together Achieve". Our very survival as a community depends on re-learning the meaning of this simple evocative motto.
Many, many diverse babies will come on their own, dragging their parents along with them, once we have perfected the art of this "Together" thing -- a sacred touchstone, which delivers that "blessed condition which no longer is enslaved to [words], but empowered by the spirit [to act]" -- a power which when truly understood, will make redundant all unwieldy descriptives which presently fails to guide our city's future.
(ref: http://executableoutlines.com/ro2/ro7_14.htm )
Mahesh P. Butani