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Why Toronto Matters

Continuing my last couple posts on “God’s bias for the city” and “why cities matter” some thoughts on why the City of Toronto matters.

Toronto is the most ethnically and culturally diverse urban area on planet earth. Half of its citizens are visible minorities.

You can find glimpses of the entire world in one city.  Over a 140 languages and dialects are spoken.

Toronto is formed and shaped by the people of the globe – half of the population is foreign born.

Toronto is a model mosaic city.  Ethnic enclaves are everywhere.  Every city on the planet has a china-town, Toronto has at least six and counting.

Approaching 6 million people in the Greater Toronto Area it is the fifth largest metropolitan area in North America.

Toronto is geographically a hub to America.  Within a 100-mile radius of Toronto a quarter of Canada’s population resides here, as well as 125 million Americans or roughly 40% of the U.S. population.

Richard Florida who wrote “Rise of the Creative Class” describes Toronto as being one of the most creative cities and is on set to be “a world leader in innovation and prosperity”

Yet 550,000 people live below the poverty line and it’s getting worse.

Toronto’s leading sectors include finance, business services, telecommunications, aerospace, transportation, media, arts, film, television  production, publishing, software production, medical research, education, sports, sustainability, and tourism industries.

Toronto is undergoing massive renewal and gentrification – creating a city in flux with new needs and opportunities

Toronto hosts over a thousand various festivals a year, with some of the largest in the world including Caribana, Nuite Blanche, Pride week, and the international film festival

Toronto is a city of the future. The world is increasingly becoming more diverse and more urban as Toronto already is.  If you can make something work in Toronto you have the potential for modeling and leading it for the rest of the world.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear why your city matters to you.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Al February 4, 2010, 7:54 pm

    My first thought after reading the title is:
    Toronto matters to you because you live there. You need to bloom where you are planted.

    I have been planted in Victoria, so I need to bloom here. Victoria needs to matter to me (and it does). Although Vancouver is nearby, bigger, larger areas of poverty, etc. etc., my city is Victoria.

    I’m sure there are some specific reasons, like the ones you give for Toronto. But for now, ‘because I am here’ is a good enough reason for me.

    • Lon February 5, 2010, 8:51 am

      Hi Al – absolutely – I was a bit hesitant about the post – because I know that 98% of my blog readers are not from Toronto. But that’s exactly how i feel, because I’m rooted here. It’s my city, and just as I’m sure you do, when we love our city, we can go on and on about where God’s placed us.

  • Albert February 5, 2010, 1:22 am

    I’ve always been a Toronto enthusiast, but I’ll certainly admit to the bias of living here. But all the reasons you listed and then some Lon. It’s been an absolute adventure to explore the different neighbourhoods, parks, and restaurants via car, foot, or bike. Having lived both in the suburbs and the downtown core (sort of), it’s only made me love this city more. I’m sure that’s a huge reason why I’ve resonated with your previous posts too on a theological level.

    In all honestly, part of me has always been confused at the eagerness for some people to travel when they haven’t even seen half the things in Toronto. There’s an adventure in our backyard people! But yes, again, the bias, haha.

    • Lon February 5, 2010, 8:52 am

      It’s good to be aware of the bias, but no one needs to be ashamed of it… you’re in a phenomenal city – i wish more people loved where they lived.

  • Tim Heerebout February 6, 2010, 11:13 am

    Amen! I agree that some people are called to love where they’re planted. I also think there are some of us (my wife and I for instance) who are being called to certain cities not because of our innate love for them but because certain cities are more influential than others and therefore need to be targeted for impact for than others.

    • Patricia Tice February 6, 2010, 7:17 pm

      Although it is certainly true that some places are intrinsically more influential than others, He makes the difference and often chooses the small things to show His strength.

      Every place has a purpose just as God has a purpose for each person. God matches people to place and His purpose to do as He desires. It can be our fathfulness that opens up God’s influence wherever we are or wherever we pray. In two of our world’s worst recent disasters the Lord had mobilized me to pray for them for multple months beforehand. Neither Banda Aceh nor the Leogane Plain in Haiti are intrinsically influential places but avenues for the Kingdom of God have been powerfully opened there because God orchestrated the faithfulness of those who went and those who prayed. It is our love for Jesus and His fathfulness that influences our world. Jesus spent significant time in Capurnium and Cesarea. Early on, Christianity was largely an urban phenomena that had been started in small Judean towns.

      Blooming where you are planted is ok because God is the one who provides the increase.

      • Lon February 9, 2010, 11:22 am

        Thanks Patricia – great comment – God absolutely do extraordinary things through the small seemingly un-influential areas, cities, towns, villages as well. Definitely not something to forget.

  • Patricia Tice February 6, 2010, 7:50 pm

    I truly believe that every city has a God-given purpose and it will fulfil that purpose regardless of what their attitude toward God is. Los Angeles was clearly destined to be a city of messengers (angels). The message they deliver and where they get their message will determine their (and our) peace or pain. As Christ’s agents here it behooves us to seek out God’s specific purpose for our place so that we can execute our agency in good faith, through prayer and deed. It is easy to ask God for what we want. It is far more fruitful to ask for what He wants. This is the core of spiritual authority before God because it deeply honors God’s authority.

    I live in Orlando, Florida. It was founded as a fort in hostile indian territory; a resting point halfway between the coasts. It remains a place of rest, medical care and transients. Those purposes have been executed faithfully and unfaithfully. We have great vacation places, some of which will wear you out. We have great hospitals, some of which fight for the right to do stem cell research. People come and go. His church here has a responsibility to make sure that they don’t leave untouched by Jesus. Sometimes we are good at that. Sometimes not.

    • Lon February 9, 2010, 11:24 am

      Patricia – it’s also great that you’re tuned in with your city. I’ve been posting on city because I’ve felt that many of us have no relationship to the city itself – wherever we are. we often don’t see the global implications of what we’re doing – whether it’s good or not.

  • Paul Wilkinson (Thinking Out Loud) February 6, 2010, 10:52 pm

    I think a lot of us can have a measure of civic pride for the place we call home, but let’s not miss Lon’s bigger point. Toronto’s unique demographics can be a test case for all sorts of things, including ministry models. Some will succeed and some will be bad examples. Furthermore success or failure in what the natives call “T.O.” doesn’t mean success or failure elsewhere. But it’s a city that deserves to be on our radar …and in our prayers.

    • Lon February 9, 2010, 11:25 am

      Yes – Thank you Paul – exactly. Toronto does have a unique role and does need prayer. I didn’t want to come off as another egotistical torontonian, just that there is some strategic importance, even if i can’t quite articulate it all right now. As with many other places in the world, I think it’s part of our job to figure how and leverage why God has placed us where we are…

  • Earl James December 28, 2010, 1:55 am

    A late bloomer comment! But I must say that over the past 5 years God has been expanding my understanding of the scope of our beautiful city…A deep prayer and desire for myself is to see the unleashing of beauty in our city. Like you said in your other post, beauty is dense! There is a God designed density to oin our city that screams Kingdom! This beauty is intrinsic and binds us as a people under the banner of Christ.

    As the body of Christ we need to champion the cause of unleashing kingdom beauty here!

    I agree 100% that Toronto represents some exciting opportunities for innovation and exploration that mat not exist elsewhere and we should as a body of Christ be prayerfully arawe of this reality. I personally am so amped for Toronto and believe that God is doing/bringing some serious fruit/creativity/innovation that will break walls down! Praying and believing!

    Great post!

    • Lon December 31, 2010, 8:20 am

      Thanks Earl! Sorry i haven’t gotten a chance to write for you yet, i’ve let my own site go stale for months as well. anyhow, hope all’s well and let’s catch up again!

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