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Toronto the Good?

Posted by Adam Schwabe / May 26, 2008

Toronto the Good
Tomorrow night, the Spacing folks are throwing their fourth annual Toronto the Good event along with the ERA Architects, Toronto Society of Architects, Heritage Toronto, Wireless Toronto, and [murmur]. The organizers are hoping attendees will get together to discuss the idea of an 'urban centre' and how that could work here in Toronto.

The event will also play host to an interactive map of the city (last year, attendees were asked to place markers where they got drunk, had their first kiss, and got busy for the first time), a public text message display board and a few other artistic displays.

The venue for this event, the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District is spectacular, and it's not a bad deal for food included at $10/head, but what last year's event really came down to was a glorified schmooze-fest with opportunities for rubbing elbows with architects galore.

That resulted in the event being called Toronto the Meh by some, and I can't say I disagree. I'm a fan of Spacing, and I appreciate the intention of trying to provide a venue for intelligent debate, but the format and focus of the night just seemed totally off.

What kind of value can you really get with such disparate, disconnected conversations? If anything, it would seem this is an ideal kind of thing for the guys at TorCamp to take on. In any case, blogTO will be checking out the event and will have photos and a round-up shortly thereafter.

Where: The Fermenting Cellar (Distillery District), 55 Mill Street
When: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 7:00pm
How Much: $10/person. Cash bar.

Photo by 9:30 from the blogTO Flickr Pool.



Urb / May 26, 2008 at 02:06 pm
Count me as somebody who goes to TorCamp AND has gone to this party a few times and had a great time. The TorCamp thing is completely different thing, and you are being a lazy writer. Camp isn't a party, this is. TorCamp is great, and it's full of geeks like me who love to sit around and talk about this stuff, but it's a thin slice of urban geeks -- that's what you're missing/being lazy about.

This party was one of the more heterogeneous groupings of people I've seen in Toronto, and not just all geeks, but them (me) too. So I think you're missing the point -- it's going to be lighter when it's a wide audience, and if you make it a geek fest, nobody will come and it won't be a party. "Party for the sake of the city" seems fine. You're link to Torontist, who seem to hate everything, is the crux? The people who commented on that blog seemed to like it though and disagree. You call it a "schmooze fest" which I assume you mean pejoratively. But that's what parties are...talking to people. It up to you to make the conversation. If you're not good at it, don't make a blog post because you didn't participate, geeez. Here's to good Toronto...camps and parties. It's why I'm glad I moved here.
Marie / May 26, 2008 at 02:12 pm
This is a weird post: I agree with the commenter above: it was one of the most widely liked parties I've been to -- my profeswsors went, but do did my freakin' parents. As a student in urban planning, it was great to see politicians, starchitects, planners, and the plain urban enthusiasts all together. I remember everyone having a great time. Its a social party, so I don't know what Adam, the writer of this post, seems to be insinuating. If he wants a camp then he's looking in the wrong place.
Jerrold / May 26, 2008 at 02:23 pm
I can't be the only person to think that the event was far more... wholesome?... when it was held at Fort York. :)
Nick / May 26, 2008 at 04:15 pm
I think Adam's point is how does a good time party further the organizers objective creating an 'urban centre' that would work in Toronto. I'd like to hear how the party or for that matter Spacing actually furthers any of this.
Adam / May 26, 2008 at 04:41 pm
Nick, that's essentially my point.

Urb, I was being pejorative. Toronto has no shortage of parties, celebrations and festivals. I'm taking issue with the fact that there's some kind of discussion theme here, and that anything substantial will actually come of that while people are drinking and rapt in their cliquey little groups.

How exactly am I being lazy, though?

I'll contend that there's about the same if not more geek factor in that room than any BarCamp event; Urban Planning/Architecture geekery will be in full effect, it's just a different caliber of geekery. :)
Shawn Micallef / May 26, 2008 at 06:11 pm
As one of the organizers of the party, it might be useful to point out that the Toronto the Good parties have always been, at the core, a party celebrating the city. That is, "a fun thing." The first was actually a fundraiser for Spacing and [murmur] -- but now it's designed to just break even (pays for food, event set up -- cheap drinks also break even), expose people to groups like Wireless Toronto or this year, Sally Gibson's book on the distillery district.

The programming has always been "fun" but "city themed". The giant map, of course, with a different set of questions. By midway through the party it's a fairly interesting mapping of a few hundred individual minds made collective. Also archival photo-guessing games, Soft City and their giant stuffed skyline (at the Fort York event), the mayor and his cannon firing, the giant projected texting wall. Toronto Society of Architects also have been showing their poster competition and announce the winners at the party.

None of this will change the world, nor was it meant to, simply a celebration of Toronto, generally. This post refers to it as a "schmooze-fest" ("networking" says your link), but in your comment above it's "cliquey groups," which seem like concepts at odds with each other. However, with hundreds of people there, perhaps it is all those things. That wasn't my personal experience, but I think conversations are what you make of them, and "small talk" is not always so small. I like what I do though, and it's a massive part of my life and passion, as it was for many of the folks from various backgrounds who attended, so if that is "schmoozing," so be it. I may have also had a conversation about the Gilmore Girls with somebody I just met, which is not a big part of my life, but it was a nice conversation and we tip that hat at each other when we pass by now.

Toronto the Good, though, is absolutely not a TorCamp, which are fine and wonderful things and we share office space with some of the organizers. The outcome is never so focused as at a Camp. The "Urban Centres" theme this year is a change because the party does have a sort of cause now. But Nick, above, asks what Spacing is doing to further any of this. This party, the <a href="";> article in the Star on Saturday</a>, are presenting the idea publicly. It's a first step, and we'll have some interactive components where people can engage. Or not. But this is how ideas become real things: you get people talking about them first, and a constituency, and concrete action, follow. A Toronto Urban Centre is not an overnight thing. But it's exciting.

As for the Torontoist post you link to, the lights came on at midnight as planned, and there were 30 people left in the big room. It was done. The comments on that blog are generally positive, and we're glad people had fun. The author of the post is also a volunteer at this year's party, which is not disclosed.

At any rate, we have over 500 rsvp's for the party, and upwards of 600 "maybe's" so if you come it's likely you can find whatever you want at the party, isolated clique or gentle socialization with people who dig this town.
Peter Stein / May 27, 2008 at 12:38 am
Just saw this post, and I have to agree with some of the posters here as I had a wonderful time at 2 of these parties (last year included). You throw around cheap Ben Mulroney words like "schmooze" but I had some great conversations, with strangers too. Am I a "schmoozer"? Are you really that cynical? I met some people at the party stickering that map. So perhaps it's you, not them. Do you make an effort? I found talking to people there effortless -- not cliquey.

And this **is** a lazy post. Your evidence is a link to a cranky Torontoist post, the bloody Toronto Sun of the blog world. I see now their editor calls it "Toronto the Ambivalent" -- that sums that blog up, what an awful, negative corner of the internet. It's disconcerting to see their style of bad writing and tear-everything-down-but-don't-do-anything-yourself wank make its way here. Also, the BarCamp concept, which I am familiar with, is not a party. Why would you bring it up?

I think you don't know what parties are -- they can have a purpose, but still be easy and fun. But again, depends how you approach it.....hipster cynicism, well, goodluck with that.

-Peter, Esplanade

Adam / May 27, 2008 at 07:43 am
Shawn, thanks for the comment! Good to hear from the organizer's perspective.

Peter, I'd liken TOist more to something like the Penny Saver of the blog world perhaps. You know - those really annoying, excessively long junk ads that come in the mail far too frequently that most people just kind of look at, let out a deep sigh of exasperation and toss it decidedly into the trash. Something like that.
Ry-Tron / May 27, 2008 at 07:54 am
oh snap!
Sameer Vasta / May 27, 2008 at 08:56 am
s / May 27, 2008 at 09:19 am
A blogTO writer comparing Torontoist to a pennysaver? Don't flatter yourselves. Seriously. Especially when the comparison is more apt to blogTO. I like both sites a lot but you guys barely even compare to Spacing or Torontoist. Hubris is a bitch.
DI / May 28, 2008 at 02:34 pm
Frankly, what should happen during this event is a protest at how the Distillery District is being destroyed by cheap and ugly condo development. Honestly, this was one place in the city that looked like it had the potential to be a truly "historic" place. But those god-awful high rises towering over this small place is simply digusting. Why can't this city EVER be progressive and forward thinking. Why can't it ever get anything right. Why are we always destined to be mediocre in everything we do? It's just depressing.
Clide / May 28, 2008 at 05:00 pm

Building modern contemporary glass condos on a historic site IS progressive, have you been to Berlin lately, its the thing to do!
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