Sharing feelings for Toronto, on Twitter and a city billboard
The Dear City Canada project posts tweets about the city on a billboard
"Others think you aloof, cold, and elitist. But my love for you is lifelong. You are merely misunderstood."
This is one of the winning tweets sent as part of The Dear City Canada project, the urban public art initiative all about sharing feelings about Toronto. The winning submissions are now posted on billboards, subway platform screens and malls across the city.
"It's about bringing people's ideas about their city forward so millions can see it," says Sharon Switzer, the curator at Pattison Onestop, one of the co-producers of the project.
The initiative, organized jointly with Spacing Magazine, is in its second year. This year submissions were accepted from people in nine cities, including Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto.
Matthew Blackett from Spacing Magazine says the project gives the public a chance to see that video billboards and outdoor advertising don't always have to be about selling you something.
"The project shows the public that there's different ways to engage with this type of technology instead of a one-way street with ads being pushed at you," says Blackett. "This is a good example that average people can have their voices and affection about their city heard."
Canadians are not always comfortable about showing their civic pride, says Blackett, and this project is one way to counter that image.
While Canadians may not always be gung-ho about boasting about their national pride, The Dear City Canada project did spur many to publicly declare their love for their city.
Switzer says tweets about Toronto ranked among the most positive, with very few submissions dwelling on Toronto's political woes. This was a contrast to last year's submissions, which included many tweets focused on problems at City Hall.
Many people stressed Toronto's diversity, says Switzer, pointing to one of the winning tweets by Olga Gomes, who uses the handle @designchickee, "Why travel the world when the world lives here? I love that about you."
"We live in a pretty great place," says Gomes, who was surprised to hear that her tweet had been selected as one of the best entries from Toronto. "Sometimes with all the crazy politics that message gets lost."
Not every tweet was positive. Many saw this as a chance to vent about common frustrations such as potholes. Switzer says the submissions from Edmonton were among the most critical with many griping about municipal affairs.
The top 10 tweets from Toronto will be on display for the next four weeks on an electronic billboard at Bloor and Jane streets. Submissions from the other eight cities are on various screens at shopping malls or on subway platforms.
Anyone wishing to submit their own urban love letter can send a tweet to @DearCityCanada for a chance to have their message shared with millions across the county.
Top Tweets from Toronto:
- Don't listen to me when I say Montreal is a thousand times better. You still rock. @CleaDesjardins
- Why travel the world when the world lives here? I love that about you. @designchickee
- We are defined by our perseverance, creativity, and humanity. Not the proclivities of a failed civil servant. @TheDelgadoShift
- They say size doesn't matter but I love Toronto for how big it feels while entering/leaving the city. @MatthewBlackett
- I tried to leave you (again & again) but the truth is... there's no other city for me. You complete me. @LauraMendesTO
- With all your green spaces, graffiti & grit, you collage all the colourful people & we fall in love with it. @TimeAndDesire
- You are full of such a riotous variety of #crazy #wonderful #geeks that we feel completely at home. @gktrpls
- Others think you aloof, cold, and elitist. But my love for you is lifelong. You are merely misunderstood. @zengarden17
- Thank you for all your cool strangers just an accident or a few tears away from being warm helpers. <3 @NicoleLittleArt
- Finally back in your arms after a long search for what I thought I wanted. It was you I was looking for. @MsKMScott