Friday, June 17, 2005

Sudbury

I suppose it is a bit peculiar that the word "Sudbury" has yet to appear on this site. It is, after all, the name of the city to which I will be moving in a couple of weeks.

I can blame the fact that this move is unexpected and sudden, and the fact that I felt quite vigorously conflicted about it in the first weeks after a change in expectations and a great job offer (both my partner's) transformed a move there into a serious possibility. Certain long-term personal and professional reservations with respect to this destination persist -- things that are peculiar to my own vision for my future, not anything I have against Sudbury, which I expect I'll quite like in and of itself. On a more immediate level I am feeling (a) the usual practical anxieties associated with any big move, though thus far at quite manageable levels; and (b) a mix of anxieties and anticipation overlaying a solid bed of acceptance with respect to our destination. I don't feel any particularly active inner conflict about it and there are definitely things I look forward to about the new situation, particularly when it is contrasted with our current one rather than with some alternative imagined future ideal. So I would say I am feeling moderately positive about it on the whole, though still with occasional bouts of more active inner conflict.

One thing that I regret about leaving Los Angeles is not having a greater opportunity to explore its political spaces and political cultures. Being here about half the time we expected contributes to that only a little bit, though; it is more a product of being a stay-at-home parent, the vast and sprawling built form of Los Angeles, the city's dismal public transit system, not owning a car, and being heavily psychologically invested in the progress of this work not happening any more slowly than it absolutely has to. I will also miss the weekly peace vigil I've attended. It is different than groups I've been active in before and has been a window into at least one corner of LA's activist cultures. And I've had the pleasure of getting to know a real nice bunch of people, too.

However, political involvement is one area where I feel a sense of possibility with respect to the move to Sudbury.

It's not unreservedly positive, of course. Sudbury is quite small, and that can be a barrier to the formation of stable and vibrant politicized spaces. As well, I am very interested in putting my labour towards and being challenged by the range of politics grouped under the broad label "anti-oppression." It is possible to arrive at such politics in lots of different ways but from what I understand the single biggest determinant of whether a reasonably sustainable network of spaces grounded in and/or impacted by those politics will exist in a given city in North America is the presence of large and politicized racialized communities in the city. The Aboriginal community in Sudbury is smaller than I had expected and the communities of colour are tiny, so I will be pleasantly surprised to find a critical mass of anti-oppression grounded/influenced spaces there.

On the other hand, there is lots to be positive about. Though small, Sudbury has a strong union presence, including a more distant history of fairly radical labour politics. As a city that has a significant level of poverty and a significant working class population, it has a more recent history of community-based social justice and anti-poverty activism as well, though I only have a vague idea of what that has involved. I have no sense of what might be going on in these areas at the moment but I am optimistic that I will find things I will want to connect with. (And, yes, I am aware of the privilege inherent in discussions of engagement with social change including words like "want" and "choice.")

I should be more able to get involved, too. Greater financial security and the inevitable aging process will give greater flexibility with respect to childcare, not necessarily right away but in the near term. We are living a few minutes walk from the central bus terminal so any public event that is not within walking distance itself will still be easy enough to get to. The substantial competing interest for my time represented by my work will not change, of course. However, being back in the country in which I was born and in which I hold citizenship will lower one other barrier I've experienced more than I had expected to during my stay in the United States.

There is also the additional possibility embodied by connection with family, friends, other loved ones, organizations, events, spaces, and various and sundry opportunities in southern Ontario. One of the down sides of living in Sudbury is that in contrast to, say, Toronto, we will have to have a car, but the upside of that downside is that it will facilitate connection with what I have already fallen into thinking of as "the south." Toronto is about four hours drive from Sudbury, we're told, so the other main centres of interest for me -- Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton -- will each be about one hour more. Family in K-W, two offers of couch space already in Toronto, and plenty of other folk in all three places from whom it could be begged also help make field trips more practical. Exactly how connection with "the south" ends up working logistically, socially, and politically remains to be seen and will, I suspect, evolve over a period of years. But even having the option of going to, say, a Homes Not Bombs event in Toronto or Ottawa that interests me is a definite plus.

I'm not sure how the move will change this blog. One obvious thing that can't remain the same is its name. If you have any ideas for a new blog title, please be in touch! But I definitely intend to keep blogging, as time and inspiration permit.

2 comments:

Timmer said...

Sorry to see that your stay has been shortened. I have intended to reconnect and continue our interesting debates (on other subjects, but the choices are endless given our very different opinions) but life has a way of hijacking hobbies.

As for your blog name, why not simply call it "Canadian Lefty: Fresh from the Land of King George" or some such?

Naturally, after a year or two you may need to change it yet again, as "fresh" will no longer apply.

Anyhow, all the best. Hope to see you back on my blog some time soon.

Cheers, Timmer

Scott said...

Hi Timmer...good to see you back around these parts. Yes, I'd be interested to do some further dialogue, but you are certainly right that real life sometimes gets in the way of these sorts of things.

Thanks for the suggestion on the name...I've had people send me a couple of other ideas, so I think I'll wait a bit longer before I decide.

Anyway, I think I'll swing by your blog now and see what's going on there.

Peace, Scott