Monday, April 6, 2015

As the ward boundary issue seems to be ramping up...

Three years ago on this site, at very much this point on the calendar, I began yammering on about ward boundary review. (To see these posts, just search for 'ward boundary'. A good dozen should come up.)

After a petition for review was generated (yes, I didn't mince my words about this well-intentioned but ill-conceived effort), Council decided to kick the issue down the road. To the next administration. Which is now having to deal with it. 

Please find above a proposal for boundary re-drawing. It takes into consideration the population discrepancies that exist. As well as projections. 

We end up with the same number of wards. It's just that the boundaries have been moved a little. Or, in a couple of instances, a lot. 

Is it a perfect solution? Nope. I don't think that such a thing exists. However, it's a pragmatic approach to a prickly situation. It's a start

Which is more than what Council seems to be willing to make. 

(A reminder: The OMB guidelines demand that a review be done in our case, because of the aforementioned existing population discrepancies. I've dealt with it all within those articles that you can retrieve by way of that search I'd suggested.)

P.S. I apologize for the 'artwork'. I am clearly no Jelly Brother in the mapmaking sense. I am but a humble wordsmith. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making Sense of Mental Health; It’s Not ‘Black or White’

Wherever you are right now, take a good look at the people around you. Or, if you’re by yourself, imagine being in a supermarket, a cinema, on a bus, walking through a shopping mall, or even at work. Do a visual tour of those in your immediate vicinity. Got it? Good.  

Now consider this: virtually nobody that you’ve just seen is in absolutely perfect mental health. 

People tend to think in polarities. Black...and white. On...or off. Rich...or not. 

This tends to be the case with mental health, too. Someone has ‘mental illness’...and then there’s someone else, ‘normal’, with ‘not-mental illness’. In other words, there’s ‘Them’...and then there’s ‘Us’. 

But the truth is actually quite different. And quite sobering. 

I bring this up mostly because of the current ‘t-shirt’ campaign in support of the eight patients/clients of Charlton House who are being denied the opportunity to move to 121 Augusta by City Council. The campaign is called ‘S O S Stomp Out The Stigma’. 

Even in the phrasing, and the discussions that have surrounded the effort, there is an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ paradigm going on. “Help (Us) stomp out the stigma attached to mental illness (Them).” It’s a paradigm potentially more injurious than ‘Us  vs Them’, the bane of local governance, because it's based on a real dearth of understanding. 

Going back to my initial thought, there is an acknowledged mental health continuum. On which all of us sit. At various points long that continuum, with our location changing all the time. I present it here:
At the one end, ‘Healthy’, with all its familiar attributes. At the other end, including the potential indicators listed under ‘Illness’, are the committed, the institutionalized, those in care. (Even here, there’s a continuum.)

Precisely speaking, everyone possesses varying degrees of mental health. In the same way that everyone possesses varying degrees of physical health. And again, as organic, adaptive creatures, aspects of health are always in flux, always changing. One of the many wonders of being human.

In fact, I’d venture to bet that the number of people who are in no way ‘afflicted’ with the equivalents of ‘sprains’ or ‘bruises’ or temporary ‘headaches’ mental health-wise is infinitesimally small; you may well only have met a handful in your entire life. 

Indeed, most people ‘out there in the world’ would sit to the right of ‘Healthy’. Meaning that almost everyone you come in contact with at any given moment is in fact, dealing with an aspect of ‘mental illness’, no matter how small. So chances are that the average person would be surprised to learn how many of their co-workers, fellow transit users, supermarket shoppers, neighbours are coping with ‘mental illness travails’. 

Taking it one step further, probably the one aspect of this conversation that receives the shortest of short shrifts is not the issue of how to best –and humanely– accommodate those in need of care in our communities, but the fact that so many amongst us actually require attention in this sense, but either aren’t aware of the need, or simply cannot or will not pursue help.

With this in mind, I can’t help but see a certain irony in the t-shirt attempt to embrace ‘Them’, who have supposedly been ostracized or marginalized in this particular Lynwood-Charlton  case.

Because in truth, given what I’ve just presented, nearly the entirety of ‘Us’ is in fact, ‘Them’. 

Kinda puts a different spin on things, doncha think...?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Latest 2012 DFC Award Nominee

"Good try Skippy.....  

Lived in Hamilton before the 1956 one way conversion.....YoungH..All residents of the city matter, that's the point. Motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and scooter drivers from anywhere in the city have equal access to the core and have a voice in how the city operates. The people who want two way streets are mostly residents or business owners from the area. This would be OK if it was a small community or small area of the city that a majority of the population didn't travel to or through but to try to dictate traffic flow in a major downtown for self entitled reasons that don't benefit but the small group pushing the city. The conversion of James and John South cost taxpayers millions and I would welcome anyone with proof on how this benefited the city.          "

Commenter 'DifferentWorld' on my Spec op-ed 'One-way, two-way: little known facts'.

You know, I wrote that piece as a reaction to the intractable, dogma-entrenched view of Those Who Want To See This Grievous Wrong Righted'. To go back once again to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts.'

We are so entrenched in this absence of vision in Hamilton, so clenched, so constipated... fearful of change, even if we're not even sure what the change will bring, no matter what our greatest dreads are...

...that we can't even see straight. 

This is why I believe in town halls. 



M Adrian Brassington

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gobsmacked = Me.

The accompanying graphic is the back cover of this month's issue of urbanicity.

And when I was at Jet this morning for breakfast and finally got to it...

...I sat there and stared.

'Queer juxtaposition' came to mind.

'Hilariously ironic' came to mind.

And, as the title of this post says, 'gobsmacked' came to mind...and I became it.

It's not a biggee, I'm not criticizing Martinus for having Jackson Square (Yale) as an advertiser, nothing like that. It's just...

Well, the tenor of 'some' of its contributors is such that Jackson Square represents the worst mistake the City of Hamilton ever made, development-wise. (Oh, the screeds I could point you to... The funny thing is that almost to a one, none are old enough to remember any of it in-person.) So to have the entire back page paid for by this 'débacle-of-débacles' seemed a bit...well, rich.

All of this got me thinking about how things would have been if one, two or all of the following had happened:

-The overall design of Jackson Square hadn't been so utterly botched. (Best explored by the paper 'The Facelift and The Wrecking Ball'.) Had it cleaved more closely to the original 'Civic Square' design, had it not become a concrete monstrosity, had the streetwall been so arbitrarily and arrogantly enacted (hand-in-hand with the south side of King not having mirrored this approach) so as create an inhospitable environment, one non-conducive to authentic 'downtown' experiences.

-Even if it had been built this way, if the City had possessed the forethought and understanding regarding the implications of Stelco Tower going away and the cumulative impact this (combined with the arrival on the scene of Limeridge, Eastgate, Oakville Place and Mapleview) would have on the downtown. And acted. (Instead of effecting more sprawl.)

-Vic Copps' prophetic words regarding the utter importance of the need to focus on development from James east to Wellington once Jackson Square had been completed had been listened to and afforded the credence they deserved. 

And so here we are, forty years after the mall's Phase One opening...with this ad. 

I believe Jackson Square/Hamilton City Centre needs to be re-imagined. Just as it was re-imagined downwards as its main customers then anchor tenants jumped ship. I believe it needs the kind of makeover that all other area malls have gone through. (And not in the sense of temporarily accommodating the Farmers' Market.) 

I have no idea if Yale possess the kind of chutzpah necessary to do what I'm suggesting, whether or not they've developed a long-term, revitalizing strategy possessed of vision, faith and synergistic thinking incorporating the anticipated potential of the downtown-core,...or merely one that befits Hamilton's inner-city tendencies. ('too little, too late')

But I do know that considering that I made a living in that mall for two different employers and that my mom worked at both ends of the property over the course of twenty years, I have to admit that staring at the ad provided me with at least a little bemusement. Of the head-aslant sort, but still... 

So here's to hoping that Jackson Square has something to celebrate not necessarily in another forty years, but ten. Yeah; I'd settle for that. 

M Adrian Brassington