Evolving Diversity – Is Toronto in it?

Have you ever wondered what diversity really means? Is it merely a buzz word made popular by the developing global markets? On a surface level, yes it is! However, I think it is much more.

Positive diversity in action: embracing, celebrating, accepting, and seeking that which is different.
More on that later. I think defining the term deserves a whole blog to itself.

Anyhow, I attended a symposium yesterday, hosted by Heritage Toronto on Our Shared Past: Toronto’s People, Places & Events, seen here –  http://heritagetoronto.org/culturalheritage/

It was a panel discussion, and quite an enlightening experience. Some very valid points were made. One, that heritage is not a past tense term. It is past, present, and future. It is part of our identity, and is constantly evolving. Two, that Toronto as a community contains many culturally isolated pockets, and very rarely do these sub-communities have an opportunity to interact with each other, much less the general populace. To summarize everything would constitute an entire book, but those are the points that stuck with me.
An example that was brought up is that cultural festivals showcase a rather surface level snapshot of who people within these groups are. We meet a myriad of individuals daily, but how many of them do we really see?

I was well aware of such communication droughts within Toronto, though seeing it through this new lens has helped me piece together how I can in some small way work towards solving the dilemma. Having recently completed my education in Diversity and Inclusion, I’ve been inspired to funnel my passion into something productive and when things go well, helpful. The concept(yet to be revealed!) needs work, but by combining my love for culture, learning, people, and tea, I hope to create a workshop tool that will aid Toronto in overcoming cultural barriers to establishing a sustainable inclusive environment. Some hard questions need to be posed. Ex. What is our current heritage? As a city? As a collection of smaller communities? How can we maintain our identities while exploring others? And more. Much more!

There is a lot to do and even more to organize, but I’m compelled to deliver this project.
Wish me luck!

Yours,
~HRSlinger

P.S. Yes, I did mean tea! Green, black, white… it is more relevant than you know!

Why I Love Television

I know it’s unconventional to admit this, that I harbor a habit that’s blamed for so many negative trends in society… but bear with me as I unleash this shameful, or not, secret.
As a child, I was never a movie lover except perhaps a trilogy here or there.  No, I preferred my weekly installments of familiar characters who’d become my loyal, if not one-sided, friends. In an age when peers were often fickle, I relied on my television to distract me from the trials of my adolescent, tumultuous reality. Let’s not talk about my teen career as an artful procrastinator.
Now that I’m socially adjusted and firmly in adulthood, I have a whole new, hopefully evolved logic surrounding my adoration for the small screen.
Yes, I still get wrapped up in dramas of the moment, and there are days when I come home pining for some mindless fluffy comedy to whisk me into a place where my troubles are moot… but there is so much more to it than that.
In learning about myself the last decade or two, while gaining self-awareness, I’ve discovered that what I really relish is studying characters. I enjoy becoming attached to these fictional identities who ideally(for me), soar above adversity with graceful aplomb. Identifying with their troubles- or atleast trying to see what their shoes look like (after all, who doesn’t love shoe shopping, ha!) is an exercise in witnessing the evolution of humanity. It thrills me to see unique characters represented, and it fascinates me how from one season to the next, they grow, adapt, and manage to seemingly leap over insurmountable barriers. I often sit quietly after watching a show, processing it’s meaning and potential ramifications.  In fact, I’ve no doubt that this penchant of mine for seeking out underdogs on the small screen fuels atleast part of my decision to pursue a career in diversity and inclusion.
Satires are great too, forcing commentary on momentary trends and pivotal historic movements.  Perhaps this is why I’m not much of a movie girl. Small details are less likely lost in television and I’ve never been fond of the goodbye’s I subject myself to with every movie I see. Besides, television is by far more cost effective.
Anyhow, I’m not naïve. I get that the world doesn’t operate in quite such a serendipitous way… but in my view, that isn’t the point. Television isn’t supposed to push the boundaries of reality, but imagination. Simply put, it’s inspiring.
Watching Jennifer Love Hewitt(Client List) making morally questionable decisions in order to protect her children, or seeing Claire Danes(Homeland) manage a serious mental illness while facing down terrorists brings new perspective to my somewhat limited world. Moreover, I’m a sucker for love! Watching the mating dance of two characters fumble their way through that awkwardly wonderful sidestep routine until they finally get it right never gets old.
Of course, I’ve heard condemnations that these shows are filled with cookie cutter plots, product placements and too many commercials. Sure, that may be the case here and there, but for the most part, I believe that context makes all the difference. If the criticisms were true, then we’d be saying the same about virtually every entity out there, from people to companies and so on.
Don’t get me started on the various competition based shows out there. Before they were around, I had nary an opportunity to watch aspiring yet struggling hopefuls become superstars under the guidance of world renown industry experts.
Nevermind the marketing gimmicks and manipulations they employ, that’s the model that works. It is what it is, so why not embrace it. After all, without the “Fords” of our world backing the “American Idols” and such, we wouldn’t have them.
As for violence and sexually suggestive imagery, well… I choose to ignore that. I have no defense against it except to say that shock value sells or else it wouldn’t be employed. No question about it, television’s got a nasty rep for being shallow or crude, especially some of the over-dramatized, over-sensationalized not-so real time (yet scripted!) fake-ality shows.
It makes me wonder, what does that say about us, as a society? Somebody is giving them decent ratings or else they wouldn’t make it past a few episodes. Not to mention, most of those shows aren’t meant for the eyes of influential children.  Shame on those that are, but let’s face it; every basket has a few bad eggs. All we can do is regulate it! And tv isn’t the only one with a stake in molding our future generations. I’m looking at you, villages…
Anyhow, my point is that there is plenty of unique and insightful programming out there, if you know where to look for it.
Also… documentaries? Now there is a whole other fascinating arena that I’ll have to cover in another blog one day. I actually think that they can be more powerful in society than any other medium. Take Supersize for example. I digress.
So yes, I do love television. I don’t sit in front of the tv zoned out like a trained monkey (I do have other hobbies!). I am engaged with it, and take time to consider the implications of its message. Whether or not I agree with the stance is irrelevant, though it can be highly entertaining and intriguing.
Is it so terrible to indulge? I don’t believe so. Judge me if you will. If not, there’s a spot on my couch for you!

P.S. Every show fits the bill for one demographic or another. Which one is yours?

Pop (goes the balloon) Art

POP Art

Diversity at its finest- The art exhibit I encountered en route to the HRPA Conference last month. I love how the colours and textures vary so much in such a small frame! Reminds me of Toronto and our cultural collage