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2005 12 08
(Half) Baking a Revolution
Letter to NOW Magazine
By Mario Godlewski
RE: Baking a revolution: Wychwood Park oven honours Brazilian who taught us not to rely on government
by Wayne Roberts of NOW. http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-11-24/news_story4.php

Well, well...a third-world solution for a pauperized city in shambles...

Looks as if what's good for the Barrio is good for Hogtown...

This NOW article pretty well sums up this city's misguided left-wing revolutionary standards.

With the kind of oven-happy, retro-hippy urban standards described in Wayne Robert's article having appropriated the "left" and having distorted "progressive" ideas in this city, no wonder so much of Hogtown has become the filthy and run-down backwater for which it's becoming eulogized.

Most struggling poor people in Toronto, given the chance, would move into a new house in the suburbs rather than live in squalid conditions in a garage-sized shack, or in a cell-sized rental apartment in a tawdry T.O. downtown neighbourhood. The majority of working poor want a share of the good life.They've had enough of the poverty that they've known and grew up in. They want to leave poverty behind. That's why they work hard to move up the ladder. They want to go forward and upward, not backward and downward. Nor do they want to be abandoned by government and left to fend on their own. They want a government that represents their interests and delivers the goods they deserve from the high taxes they pay out of their hard-earned wages, and they expect their wages to be high enough to allow them to buy their bread at a clean and hygienic bakery, not be forced to bake their bread in the rain and snow in a dirt-smeared outdoor oven.

Transforming government and making government work to improve one's lot in life, that's what the real class revolution was supposed to be all about. It was never about giving up on government, nor about being satisfied with, or celebrating, one's slum-like and wretched surroundings, nor was it ever about fending on one's own, or waiting for redemption and a better life at the food-bank or after death -- a delusive, double-tongued opiated solution for satisfying the poor that's offered by food-bank foundations and organized religion: a lazy remedy that dumbs-down the masses, stultifies revolutionary action, and prevents real and meaningful change from taking place.

De Souza's barrio-based and soporific do-it-yourself solution to poverty has no place amongst bona-fide activists, true-leftists and authentic revolutionaries living in a first-world 21st century city, but obviously it sits well with Toronto's so-called left-wing activists and progressives that are applauding the inauguration of a dilapidated outdoor baking oven in the run-down and abandoned ruins that form part of the so-called, "revitalized" Wychwood Barns site.

So, Herbert de Souza believes that people shouldn't rely on government, and he is applauded by Wayne Roberts of NOW? De Souza's type of thinking sounds very much like the kind of distorted do-it-yourself nonsense that's advocated by wild-eyed neo-cons and extreme right-wing libertarians; more like the kind of pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps type of suggestion that might be uttered to the poor by those on the far right fringes of the old Reform Party, or by ultra-right-wing fundamentalists within the U.S. Republican Party, than by the likes of the revolutionary Che Guevara, or by the left-leaning, intellectual, writer, poet, jazz lover, and communist (Democratici di Sinistra - Left-Wing Democrats) Mayor of Rome, Walter Vetroni (nominated for the 2005 World Mayor Award).

Herbert de Souza's solution, that the poor should make do on their own, is both half-baked and counter-revolutionary, and it's as crumbly and full of holes as the Wychwood Park outdoor oven.

Unlike de Souza, who believes that every man and woman should fend and mend for themselves, Vetroni believes in government, and in government governing: the manifest political expression of an organized and civilized society.

While Toronto's post-modernist, muddle-minded, retro-hippies and so-called, "left-wing"and "progressive"
"New Urbanists" on Council, sound the praises of a an unkempt, ramshackle, unhealthy and rat-infested, Wychwood Barn oven, (looking like some run-down ruin out of the dark-ages --see attached photo below) and tout it as a major municipal accomplishment, Walter Vetroni, the Mayor of Rome has been creating a new, modern, first-class, and first-world, 21st Century identity for the 2000 year old Italian capital.

Vetroni's recipe: as Elisabetta Povoledo describes in her article in the International Herald Tribune on Monday, September 12, 2005, is a mixture of cultural, social and technical initiatives, as well as architectural plans that promise to give the city a facelift.

Construction is about to begin on two new subway lines in Rome, and last year Veltroni inaugurated what is said to be the longest urban traffic tunnel in Europe, a passageway three and a half kilometers, or two miles, long that seems to have unclogged at least one area in the north of Rome. A trip that used to take 25 minutes now takes 3.

And in Toronto, what do we get served up from our City Hall menu? A "cheap and easy" St. Clair TTC Right of Way that's sure, because of its cut-rate and faulty design, to jam up vehicular traffic to a standstill, and a cheap and crude open-air baking oven in a feces-ridden, unmaintained dog park, that's sure to pose a health hazard.

As mayor, Veltroni has put his politics into practice, more than 40 percent of the city budget is earmarked for social programs and policies, and Rome has been boosted by high-profile events, like free concerts using the Coliseum as a backdrop that have drawn hundreds of thousands to sing along with Paul McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel and, most recently, Elton John. Unlike Toronto, these concerts were offered free of charge to all, rich and poor alike, and unlike so-called free concerts in Toronto, presented to the public free of in-your-face corporate logos.

More tangibly, Veltroni has enthusiastically supported projects by architects like Renzo Piano, Massimiliano Fuksas, Odile Decq, Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Richard Rogers that signal a new era of quality urban development in Rome.

Developing neighbourhood recreational areas in Rome has been a priority in a city that is already remarkably green, with enormous parks that were spared during the building booms of the 1960s. Vetroni recently inaugurated a park with a playground that had been carved out of a former garbage dump.

In Toronto, residents in the Davenport-Shaw community had to fight for five years to get a garbage dump in their neighbourhood cleaned up by the City and turned into a long-promised and late-awaited-for park which local residents had already paid for out of their own pockets. The difference? Toronto's version of a dump-turned-into-a-park was inaugurated on the cheap for the city and without a playground for the kids in the neighbourhood.

Veltroni's administration includes a commissioner for the suburbs, created to establish greater equilibrium between the needs of the historic city and of the outskirts. While in this city, Toronto's administration willingly allows for more and more ugly box-malls to be built, football-field sized parking-lots to be paved, and nature-destroying ticky-tacky suburban development sprawl to spread, under-regulated, unchallenged and unimpeded, both within the inner parts of the older city and in the city's outer fringes, allowing for the loss of fertile farmland, the ravaging of scarce greenspace and the traumatization of Toronto's urbanity.

Rome, Veltroni said, "is transforming its identity."

And in Toronto? Well, the above photo is a sample of the kind of identity transformation that's taking place and being applauded:

While Rome, led by a communist mayor, transforms itself for the better, Toronto, led by the nose by post-modernist faux-leftists, is stalled and struggling, and what's worse, degenerating backwards into the status of a Hogtown, with the full and enthusiastic approval of this City's Mayor and Council, and now, so it seems, with that of Now magazine as well.

Go figure.

Enough said.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 12/08 at 03:38 PM

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