There are those who deem it impertinent to map a population from one person or group, the same as a waterway from the currents that dwell within it. A Capital city is especially prone to heterogeneity, where seemingly insignificant products create a vast, creeping networks of influential routes and channels, the greater sums of which meddle and muddy the waters.
For instance, roughly 100, 000 people work as government employees and are expected to conform to a certain dress code, with only 59 dedicated tailors to service them; from where does fashion arise? While amok with culinary expositions and 2, 100 restaurants, only 1.3% of residents work in the foodservice industry themselves; why do so few go hungry? We are a university city with a high level of disillusioned young adults, catered to introductory activities, yet over half of that student population leaves every year; what is our attraction?
Hosting literally hundreds of concert venues each year, from sold-out stadiums to backwater bars and open-mic nights, there are yet still critics who call our music scene “sleepy” and “below surface”. Worse still are the people who believe it. We receive condemnation from the nation for poor misrepresentation, yet the country itself is quick to thumbnail their personal conceptions as legitimate.
Dozens of dog parks, 600 km of cycling paths, and parades, protests and demonstrations every single day, our Ottawa is (in a word) crowded. To speak of only one aspect risks an annotation in an arena where brevity counters complexion. There is so much to do in Ottawa, and ultimately, so much to be. As many of us have come to know, our daily experiences are only as unique as they are quiet, and an urbanity as regulated as Ottawa requires that only a certain amount of groups be shouting at once.
People have forever been categorizing themselves into parties of similarities to cement their own identities and represent themselves to a community. These groups may be porous or hegemonic, but to reduce individual personalities to sobriquets of an area code is more than simplistic; it is incomplete.
Ottawa has the advantage of a stabilized employment industry, whereas the lives and experiences of those employed (and not) are pel-mel. Steadfast structuring of these long-lasting titans of business are upheld by interchangeable occupational positions filled by new wares of the many to form the whole. In a way, this rapid current of a fresh workforce is what sustains the firmness of production. We have created a culture of amateur orientation expected to understand an apeiron system impossible to comprehend.
To keep the machine running smoothly, several methodologies have been developed to evaluate, strip and reform “outsiders” into qualified personage. Whether it is the interview process, training for a job, or the buzzword reward system for room rentals, personality traits need to be reduced to pre-portioned nomenclature, so as to better interlock with the existing systems. Yet in the creation of this strict categorization, it has empowered commonly marginalized hobbies, interests and identities.
What elsewhere is a temporary leisure to be casually developed, is here so sternly corralled and thrust upon the practitioner as paramount to their ipseity. One comes to realize there is no pride in exploratory passions, and no shame in embracing the titles of “artist”, “musician”, “coordinator” or “connoisseur” of any sort.
Where there can be no curiosities of fugacity, there can only stand masoned intent. The people who are seen as well-adjusted are really well-ingrained. And why not? For all of Ottawa’s persona as a lumbering giant, it allows for hardened, if eccentric, constitutions. It is here that arises the synth-prog-punk, the crossfit runner, the abstract graffiti artist and the city councillor who rides their bike to work each day at 30 km/hour.
The amateur is outpaced by our city’s drive for professionalism, and when surrounded by crowds so contentedly sure of themselves, the natural way is to ascend or be alienated. So full are we of groups and their bridging networks, one voice, in one medium, can never be enough.
Consider this a call to action. Our city is flooded with the above communities and countless more, but none will be as intricately fabricated as the other. If you have a life connected to the culture of Ottawa city, the question we would like to ask, is; What’s going on?