In the past week, much has been made about community building and social development as a means of preventing gang violence in troubled areas of the city. Mayor David Miller’s reaction to gun violence – when pressured by media and mayoral wannabe’s – was to circumvent progressive means of crime stopping and hire more police officers. And, for this, he’s fallen out of favour with the progressive media outlets that’ve been trumpeting the social development route all along. Torontoist, a long-time critic of guns and police treatment of guns, also believes the cure for our current gunfluenza is in long term neighbourhood infrastructure, not an influx of police presence. So, similar to NOW Magazine, we urge the City of Toronto to waive the magic community-building wand and build some nice, safe communities in the northwestern area of the city.
Alas, the prospect of David Miller’s broom turning into such a magic wand is highly unlikely, and probably impossible. The road to community building, unfortunately, must come in part from the community. And since much of the progressive community is championing these social development tactics, perhaps they (we) should be leading the charge. This, Torontoists and Torontoests, is where our aforementioned friends at NOW Magazine come in: With trucks full of money, the right attitude and necessary means to do it, why doesn’t NOW throw a little getting-to-know-you street party/concert/festival in our most beleaguered of neighbourhoods? Talk about community building! Such an event would pull the carpet out from which this gang violence stigma stands on. If we could integrate our neighbourhoods with a well-publicized party, we might understand better how to arrive at a solution. Besides, why further segregate victims of gun violence with a us-and-them attitude? Let’s break the ice. A gun-troubled neighbourhood is a gun-troubled city, and Toronto is finding that out like a slap in the face this month. There’s no reason why we can’t have a little “Hey how’s your father?” session along Jane Street.
Thus the suggestion to NOW Magazine, the City of Toronto, or anyone else in a position of influence is this: Show your progressive stripes and take direct action in community building as a means of curbing gun violence. Torontoist is sure that scores of musicians would jump at the chance to help out the cause. There’s no problem that a little partying can’t solve. (Also of note: It’s hard to carry a gun if you’re in a toga.)