Summing Toronto Up in Six Words
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Summing Toronto Up in Six Words

[“TO in 6 Words” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—Torontonians describing their city, in brief. Put together by Spotlight Toronto‘s Suresh Doss and Torontoist’s own Jaime Woo, the video (above) features locals such as David Miller and Jamie Kennedy first introducing themselves, then naming their favourite part of the city, and then doing their best to sum up a city both too complex and too multiple to ever be summed up. Torontoist is very happy to debut the video here; Jaime’s description of the project and its genesis follows below.—DAVID TOPPING]

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The premise is deceptively simple: to describe Toronto using exactly six words.
It took some people minutes—some people days—but what I and Suresh Doss of Spotlight Toronto saw was that people gave it real thought. They took the opportunity to reflect and consider the city around them.
The idea stems from Hemingway, who (maybe) told a brilliant story with great utility. “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” What would the people of Toronto say, especially with the city’s 175th birthday? I sent the initial version of the idea out on a whim through my blog and Twitter account as a literary exercise, but forgot about it; in retrospect, it felt too static and lacked immediacy.
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But it took on a new life when Suresh asked if I wanted to film people saying their six words. Ideas often fail or flourish depending on the medium through which they are presented: I quickly saw how winning a video, which could show the textural qualities of a person’s face and the life happening within the city to which it pays homage, would be for this project.
We shot for four days straight—Sunday to Wednesday this week—coincidentally catching the arctic breeze chilling the city and people out on the streets in spite of it. So, we filmed. We took hours of footage and Suresh miraculously whittled it down to a few minutes.
We know this video does not represent all of Toronto—an impossible task and probably an unreasonable goal. Instead, we hoped this video would start a discussion and give a way for Torontonians to connect with each other and their city.
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We should note that this video was not done officially under the auspices of Spotlight Toronto or Torontoist, but by individuals passionate about the city. However, these two sites provide a foundation for participation and engagement, as do BlogTO, Spacing, Dear Toronto, Seen Reading, and more.
Wow. That was definitely more than six words. All there’s left to say, I guess, is: How do you describe TO in six words?