We're Never There
It hits me every time I'm standing in the huge line at border control after coming back home to Toronto: a huge wash of relief that I'm back in such a diverse place - something I can quickly grow to take for granted unchecked, especially when I try to spend my time learning about the social injustices and oppressions that exist here in my country and city.
I just spent a couple weeks visiting other cities - some I've already been to, some new to me. Even the most diverse out of the ones I visited - Berlin - could sometimes feel suffocatingly homogenous. Though I love Berlin, and hold a certain fondness for the other cities I visited - there's really no denying it. There's no place like home. There's something deeply unsettling about watching an entire train peel their eyes away from screen or page to watch as you walk towards the bathroom, even when there's no malice behind the stares.
It doesn't take long to remember that even here at home, the rights of thousands of people are being chipped away. Despite the many voices speaking out there's still an overwhelming silence maintained by many regarding the ongoing, nuanced struggles of many different people. One need look no further than this recent article about Never Home, a multimedia project examining the impacts of policy changes affecting immigrants and refugees and the de facto creation of lesser-class citizens, for an example. Though crises may be rooted in distant places, the ripple effects are deep and run worldwide - and then there's the history and forces behind the crises in the first place.
We saw many refugees in the streets of some of the European cities,; the continent is facing the highest ever recorded numbers of refugees struggling to come in. It's important to remain grounded in the fact that we are not separate from them, and how our various actions and inactions can either support or fight back against oppression or the denial of basic rights. And to remember that similarly devastating things are happening in places closer to home, too. Perhaps somewhere where we do call home, but others cannot. The more walls we build in stone or in heart the more we strengthen the system that convinces us some people are or deserve less than us.
It makes me feel that much more rooted to the work we're doing with Stories of Ours - opening up spaces to have the conversations that remind us of other experiences and push us out of our comfort zone. It's a difficult journey, so it's a good thing we've started this together. I hope you can join us on September 24th for our next event, starting at 6pm this time. You can find the Facebook event page here, and an off-Facebook event page here. :-)
And as ever, feeling so much gratitude to all of you - those of you who have come out to an event or shared the project to your friends, and especially to the stunning people who have shared stories for us.
For me, today's practice was remembering that we're never there - we are always here. A friend mentioned it in the kitchen this morning in reference to his kids asking 'are we there yet?' in the car, but I think it applies to all of us too. Let's keep chasing growth and change.
Here are some photos from the July 30th event, and as always some of the stories will be available to watch online. Click the button at the bottom of this page to check them out!
And if you missed it, we now have a newsletter so you can stay in touch with upcoming events - we're going to see a lot more of each other.