You know how when you were a kid, sometimes you would get an idea in your head, and you wouldn't let the fact that it didn't make sense or that it didn't play by the rules of logic and physics or even that it was actually a terrible idea stop you from just imagining the shit out of it? The world could be guided by the principle of "What if...?" and the answer could be "...then everything."
Jacob Zimmer, creative director of performance company Small Wooden Shoe, is bringing something of the magical thinking of kid logic back in style. Zimmer's latest project-in-the-making asks the question "What if we took Toronto and built a new city on top of it and called it Upper Toronto and moved everybody up there?" The project is in its infancy stages, but the folks at Small Wooden Shoe think that it will take a village to raise a city to the sky, and they want your help.
Upper Toronto is an ambitious performance project to design and propose to the public the building of a new Toronto above the current one: the CN restaurant might be ground level, or imagine a city sitting on top of Bay Street towers. When Upper Toronto is finished, all residents of Lower Toronto will move up and Lower Toronto transformed into some combination of intentional ruin, national park, and farmland.
This is, of course, a terrible idea. But it is a terrible idea that might let us imagine and perform possibilities and questions about what kind of world we might want if we could start fresh.
A working list of values:
- the city has to be one we want to live in.
- The city has to be diverse - economically, culturally, geographically. It can’t be a city for-and-by the downtown-highly-educated-culturally-privileged.* 4 million people don’t live the same way. Suburbs are important to think about. We need help finding the right people to talk to - please post a reply on the bulletin board, or email uppertoronto at smallwoodenshoe.org dot org
- radical shifts from current trends are possible and probably necessary. e.g.: RFID may be all the rage, but maybe we don't want them to be in the future. Maybe we think that in 75 years we will not want the world to know where we are.
- No techno utopias/dystopias.
- having said the above - technology is not the enemy.
- Infrastructure must be publicly owned. There will be no “Big Bank Highway.”
- The city must be flexible and modifiable by the people who live there.
- The people who live in Forest Hill will have less space. And less influence.
- - What else? - * Those folk (of which I am certainly one) are important and might make up a fair number of the teams - we are the ones with Shirky’s cognitive surplus [TEDtalk] to work on thought experiments about floating cities. But we can't be the only ones.