The Jealous Curator: I’m jealous of my new city

Guest post on The Jealous Curator

I’m jealous of my new city

I believe it was writer Marianne Williamson who said, “It’s not to our discredit we have fallen. It’s to our credit we have fallen, … and gotten back up.” Whether I’m right or not about the author of that sentiment, this insight was also delivered by Lionel, the butler in the film Maid in Manhattan to Jennifer Lopez’s humiliated character, after she was exposed as – gasp – a chamber maid and not the millionaire she’d pretended to be. “What we do, Miss Ventura, is not what defines us,” Lionel said. “What defines us is how well we rise after falling.” From Greek mythology to Valerie Bertinelli’s career, nothing’s more inspiring than a resurrection.

On June 15th, my city – consistently depicted in glossy marketing materials as the Mecca for perfect-living – underwent a massive punch in the gut. In the wake of a disappointing Stanley Cup finish (for Vancouver, anyway), what started as a few chest-thumping twits snowballed into multiple chest-thumping twits and soon my streets were thick with flipped-cars, smashed store fronts, and pepper spray. As rioters put themselves – and others – in precarious situations, not the least of which included setting cop cars on fire, it was the prime location for a Darwin Awards convention.

But the following morning, something happened. Figuratively and literally, the city woke up. Hung-over not from alcohol – okay, there was that too, however allow me this metaphor – but from a reality check. Our city – consistently voted the #1 place in the world to live – could get ugly?! Like the prom queen who gets a zit, so too did we have to face a sizeable blemish.

What emerged was a new brand of expression. This wasn’t some multi-million dollar advertising campaign. No, this sprouted organically. As if decades of unexpressed loyalty had been sleeping in the soil and under the pounding of looters’ feet was finally ready to blossom. The air was thick not with pepper spray, but a renewed sense of civic commitment – indicated on murals that covered shattered windows. Whether art is “good” or “bad” is not relevant – so long as it tells the truth. And as far as I’m concerned, this new Vancouver – Vancouver 2.0 – tells the truth. It’s not about the pages of a shiny come-visit-us brochure. It’s about what happened on the night we fell. When our noses were pressed into the ground, and when the kicks just kept on coming, we made the decision to rise again.