Call it civic pride or call it mathematical curiosity, either way the latest census data for Canada was released this week and my city officially recorded one million residents for the first time in history.
That’s a lot of neighbours, most of whom I’ll probably never ever meet. A great big crowd, busy streets and an ever-more bustling mini metropolis with which to contend.
We sometimes talk about the switch from being a big little city to becoming a little big city, and what that means for everything from being a resident here, to welcoming visitors, to building and growing and changing now and into the future.
Admittedly, it’s been a tough couple of weeks to think about the future of our city and my country. The crowds are pressing against each other and it’s getting uncomfortable in here.
If you watch the news these days, Canada is abuzz for mostly the wrong kinds of reasons, including blockades of borders and an occupation our cities by protests that have been spiraling into more complex political movements. Even last week, as I drove south of town for a family event, we passed on the highway a parade of (literally and at least) a thousand flag-waving semi-trucks, tractors, SUVs, and other supporting vehicles en route to my city to protest vaccine and masking rules. And whether you’re on one side, the other, or stuck in the fuzzy middle it’s hard to sit back and watch with anything resembling hope when such protests are driven mostly by heated emotion, divergent ideologies, and ever deeper pits of self-affirming misinformation.
Alas, my golden rule, and one that has served me well living in a big little city — and now living in a little big city too, perhaps — is whenever possible to lift those around you instead of pushing them further down.
You can interpret that how you will, but in this great big city, and this great big world, one million of us or seven billion folks spread across the globe, I recommend to try it for a few days.
Stop honking. Stop blocking. Stop insulting. Stop trying to crush others to climb for yourself a little bit higher onto the pile.
Instead, elevate someone else’s opinion, even for just a moment. Clear a path so someone else can climb a step up. Complement a friend and give a stranger a boost. Think what would happen if we all did that.
One million people might feel less like a crowd and more like a community.