(Note: This post was written by Laurel Regan (pen name Dawn Storey) and originally published in Windsor Square on February 14, 2012.)
The more people I meet in Windsor, the more tweets I read with a hashtag of #windsor or #yqg, the more comments I see on internet articles or Facebook posts about Windsor, the more I get to know the perspective and attitude of Windsorites in general.
To tell you the truth, it’s a bit discouraging at times.
I realize that I’m a total newcomer to the city who’s actually glad to be here, and I haven’t yet experienced Windsor life to the full, so my perspective will naturally be different than someone who has lived here for many years or perhaps even all of their life and would like nothing better than to leave. (I also appreciate that Twitter represents a very limited segment and demographic of any city’s entire population!)
I’m not talking about people who have legitimate (and sometimes heartbreaking) complaints, such as having lost their job, are unable to find work in the city, and as a result may face having to leave even though they might actually prefer to stay.
And don’t get me wrong – I am NOT talking about political commentary or opinion that might be perceived (by some) as negative or critical. I believe that we as constituents are responsible for informing ourselves and keeping our government accountable, and my only regret in that department is that I haven’t yet quite got a handle on Windsor’s local politics and hot-button issues so I can form my own opinions and speak out for myself. (Just give me time!)
What I’m talking about is a general “Windsor sucks” attitude, mostly expressed fairly crudely on Twitter and in slightly more subtle ways in person, which continues to surprise me. I’m talking about the under-the-surface racism that occasionally bubbles over (remind me to tell you sometime about a cab driver we had the non-privilege of riding with a week or two after we first moved to Windsor) which I simply don’t understand. I’m talking about the attitude and belief that somehow we’re second-class citizens because… well, the reasons are multitude, but seem to include the fact that Windsor isn’t Toronto and isn’t part of the US. (I say that if I wanted to live in either Toronto or the US, I’d have moved there instead!)
I’ve only been here four months, yet already I find myself getting somewhat defensive of my new home. Someone said to me the other day, “Windsor isn’t a very pretty city.” I say it depends on what you’re looking for and at. Sure, Windsor may not be a tourist destination known for its beauty, as was my former city, but I find our riverside, with its paths and landscaping and fountains and sculptures, to be every bit as “pretty” and satisfying as any of our favourite walks in Victoria.
At times I think some Windsorites – the “Windsor sucks” types – either don’t realize, or perhaps have forgotten, everything they have at the core of this city: its affordability, convenient location, climate, diversity, and the warmth and friendliness of its people – assets that are highly valued by someone coming from a more expensive, less accessible, rainier, paler, more standoffish city.
Yet at times I think some Windsorites – the ones who might be summarily dismissed as negative or critical – absolutely DO realize that Windsor is a hidden gem and are fighting to preserve that core of goodness and potential.
I guess it’s all about perspective.
What do you think?