On a recent trip to Medellín, Colombia, I participated in a discussion with representatives from an array of IT and software companies. In the last eight or so years, the mountain city of 2.2 million—pretty close to the City of Toronto's population—has been working to transform itself from a troubled drug-crime war zone to a service-oriented business hub for the Americas. They've had an extraordinary amount of success, both in making the city safer and encouraging economic development. Wandering Medellín's streets, I saw citizens at ease being out at night, eating and shopping in the city's rapidly growing number of restaurants, bars and boutiques. It's been something of a transformative miracle.
One of the Medellín software industry panelists told me the city wants to nurture a nascent videogame industry. He asked about Toronto's. I suddenly found myself giving second-hand advice, based on stories I've been researching about Toronto's blossoming videogame sector. I mentioned how industry associations
have worked with government
and educational institutions to create programs that produce skilled designers and developers
as well as business-savvy self-starters
. I mentioned how large multinational companies
have not only created jobs, but also provided a jumping-off platform for their more restless employees to launch their own studios. And how community-driven celebrations
of videogames have helped break down the wall between creators and players, producing a responsive and innovative gamer culture.
The panelist was, to say the least, astonished. So much coordination!
Yes, indeed. I even surprised myself with my recap. Torontonians certainly know how to work together. In doing so, we're able to make an impact much great than any one company or organization can make working in isolation. And that's one of the reasons I'm so excited to be taking over from Yonge Street's founding managing editor, Shawn Micallef. To be in a position to witness the growth and dynamism of the GTA is a privilege and an adventure, as I've already discovered in my 20 or so months as a Yonge Street writer. The city's overarching story is composed of myriad smaller ones. Yonge Street aims to capture the most remarkable of them, ones that will hopefully inspire readers in their own endeavours.
's founding ME, Shawn, has give me more than just the opportunity to learn more about this city. He's also given me the gift of an extraordinarily talented editorial team—editors, writers and photographers who not only know their craft, but the nuances of the city they live in. (Our readers also know a lot about this city—I welcome your story suggestions
.) We will be working hard to continue Shawn's great work, finding stories that reflect the creative spirit that makes this city a great place to live and work. If other cities can learn from Toronto's knack for transformation, all the better. I want Yonge Street
to be where those conversations take place.