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Walls, Bridges and Homes: 6 Degrees Citizen Space 2017

By Charlie Foran, CEO

A preview of this year’s timely, dynamic, and provocative 6 Degrees Citizen Space 2017 themes:

360: Walls

Volunteers paint the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico to give it the illusion of transparency during her "Borrando la Frontera" Art Project in Mexicali, Mexico. Photo: Sandy Huffaker

Volunteers paint the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico to give it the illusion of transparency during her “Borrando la Frontera” Art Project in Mexicali, Mexico. Photo: Sandy Huffaker

2016 was the year of walls.  Hard to miss the external ones, often newly constructed or noisily resurrected.  But invisible barriers, the taller, more insidious kind, have also gone back up – or they’ve been there all along.  Except now those walls are being rendered visible by groups traditionally kept marginal by them.  Forces of disruption and social change speak truth to the power of barriers in our time.  But can they actually bring any down?

360: Bridges

Idle No More protesters make their way to Parliament Hill in Ottawa in January. Julie Oliver/Postmedia

Many people have deep roots in a place.  Others are more recently settled.  Canada is home to Indigenous peoples and settlers, along with a dynamic third partner: new citizens, some quarter of a million each year.  They bring their stories, identities, obligations and allegiances.  Reconciliation is a shared project and responsibility.  In Canada and elsewhere, bridges between Indigenous peoples and newcomers – groups with natural affinities — need to be identified and built.  How to foster the right welcome amongst all residents of Turtle Island?

360: Homes

A Syrian refugee kisses his daughter as he walks through a rainstorm towards Greece’s border with Macedonia, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 10, 2015. Yannis Behrakis/Thomson Reuters

Where or even what is home?  The vast majority of humans now reside in cities, and many of us have changed towns, cities, and nations to find better lives.  In Toronto, the most diverse city on the planet, an internet connection “back home” can be as essential to well-being as a neighbour next door.  We all long for a place called home.  What isn’t so certain is whether this can any longer simply be a roof and four walls, address and postal code.  How does belonging take root in 21st century lives?