City of Opportunity? No. But On-Line London Reveals a City of Hope

By Jason Menard

Despite what the cookie-cutter, 70s-esque jingle implies, London is not the City of Opportunity right now. Job losses, civic despair, a fractured council, and an old-and-white reputation have all combined to make the Forest City appear as bleak as its leafless trees.

But London, Ontario does have one thing going for it – hope.

For many years, Londoners have taken a laissez-faire approach to the city. Citizens were content not to stir the pot, let the then-Board of Control and the city’s councilors run the show, and privately gripe about their displeasure.

That, no longer, seems to be the case.

Those who doubt the power and potential of social media need only to look to London Twitter scene to see that there are a number of passionate, dedicated, and – most importantly – active members of the community out there.

The City of Opportunity is slowly becoming the City of Accountability. There are passionate watchdogs out there, backing up their concerns about government activities with facts, statistics, and research – all of which is easily accessible to the community at large thanks to the hyperlinks provided.

There are a number of groups working to improve the standing of the community amongst the country’s innovators. They are sharing information and their time, all in an attempt to give Londoners the tools and resources they need to improve their situation.

Best of all, they represent a widely diverse cross-section of the city. From active youths in their early 20s to long-time community watchdogs in their 50s and 60s, there are a number of Londoners out there discussing the city, debating issues, and presenting opinions from all sides of the political and social spectrums.

All you have to do is look and you’ll find them.

Too many people only follow those on Twitter that they like or who share the same ideals and mentality as themselves. That’s fine, but it leaves no room for growth. I’ve chosen to interact with a number of people: some of whom share my perspectives; others with whom I completely and fundamentally disagree on a number of issues. But that’s the only way we learn and grow.

It’s easy to prove a point when you’re preaching to the converted. And it’s easy to have your own beliefs validated when you only choose to listen to those who believe what you believe. But the true test of any ideal, thought, or solution is not to have it bolstered only by supporters, but to have it blasted by opposition. If your arguments stand up, then you have something that now has a solid foundation upon which it can be developed.

Before London was very much a one-(media) horse town: you had the London Free Press as the sole translator of the community’s efforts. Yes, there were talk radio stations and local TV, but the newspaper was very much the city’s voice for many Londoners. Now? You’ve got dozens of active and intelligent voices, coming together and sharing their ideas and responses. You’ve got engaged and passionate community members asking people to think more about the issues at hand – and holding their representatives accountable for their actions.

It’s only going to get better. Those voices are only going to keep being heard – and they’ll be joined by more and more people for whom social networking is a way of life. Not only will you be able to filter the opinions of the larger media organizations through your own perception of their editorial slant, but you can supplement those ideas with points and counterpoints from community members outside of the newsroom.

And you can join in the conversation. From stay-at-home moms to active community leaders; from business owners to employees; and from people with media backgrounds to armchair commentators the London, ON on-line community is a growing, diverse, and worthwhile community.

It’s time for more Londoners to raise their voices and share their feelings and opinions. And what you’ll read in return?


5 thoughts on “City of Opportunity? No. But On-Line London Reveals a City of Hope

  1. Elaine Murray

    What are you talking about? the province, hence the city, is flat-assed broke, and Dalton hasn’t even started his damage yet. You can’t honestly think the twitter fairies are going to lift it up and flip it over. Those fairies don’t do anything without a pot of money being placed at the end of their rainbow.

    It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better in these here parts.

    1. Jay Menard Post author

      Well, first off, I don’t see any need for a response like this. This behaviour is exactly what’s wrong with this city. Obviously you’re not interested in being any part of the solution, but rather perpetuating the problem. Perish the thought that some people actually want to make London better not just for ourselves, but for our children.

      What encourages me is that there are a number of people, from all sides of the political spectrum, interested in making things better, discussing ideas, and ensuring their elected representatives do what they’re supposed to do — represent. Most importantly, there area significant number of people who are willing to keep fighting the good fight despite the presence of those educated with an inner tube and a banana who choose to do nothing but engage in puerile name calling and schoolyard tactics. Elementary school solutions won’t fix our problems — nor will elementary school behaviour.

      I’m not expecting an answer to come from the sky. It’s going to take effort, dedication, and creativity. Thinking any less is lunacy — and accusing others of such is mere sandbox bullshit.

      Sadly, Elaine, I’ve defended your right to free speech, honestly believing you had something positive to contribute. If there are any fairies to be blamed, it’s the ones who imbued me with a believe that people inherently want to do good. You are welcome to continue to spew your venom and I will continue to defend your right to post. You have posted libellous statements on my blog that I removed for your own protection. I have refused to join the chorus that automatically ignores your comments. Yet perhaps I was wrong. You can continue to revel in your misery, but forgive me for hoping and working for a better city — either with you or in spite of you.

  2. Elaine Murray

    We will have to chalk it up to differences of opinion, and direction Jay. I deal in the reality of situations, something I realize is not the cup of tea of others. No I don’t believe that all people inherently have good intentions, especially those sappy socialist who just can’t have enough government in their lives controlling their every move and word.

  3. Elaine Murray

    ….they don’t ignore me, hate me yes, I can agree on that, I am good with that. My words are not for them, they are for the people that think,

  4. selfproclaimedmuse (@cherishmuse)


    Well said Jay! You’ve hit the nail on the head… for me anyway…. with the ray of light being the twitterai. I have lived here for over 5 years, and not being a city girl I resisted being part of it. When I joined twitter I started talking to London folks (along with people from all over the world to gain a real global perspective of world events first hand) and slowly but surely I became very interested in the going ons in the city. I started meeting local people at various community events, patronizing businesses that interact with me on twitter, and becoming involved in our city through volunteer work or community events. There is much hope in this city and we are meeting like minded individuals and putting our minds together to do good for the city.

    I feel bad for the naysayers who need to be negative in a conversation about hope. Let’s give them hugs.


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