Things a City Can Do to You

In an article called simply Bracing for the World the National Post has assembled tips for the soon to be beleaguered residents of downtown Toronto, as we prepare for the G20 summit.

Suggestions include having 72–168 hours worth of food supplies, putting nicely painted plywood over windows, not wearing ties (really), avoiding hospital visits, and being wary of hacktivists. All told, these scenarios would work as a nice backdrop for a Strange Days-esque thriller.

I’m fascinated with this because it reads like a guide for preparing to withstand a hurricane’s landfall. The G20 becomes an Act of God, the anticipated disruptions caused not by any particular group’s actions but by the weird convergence of political and economic turbulence and pressure zones. Through the eyes of the article, the motivations of the actors are abstracted out. I keep thinking of traffic engineers who find it more effective to conceive of masses of commuters as a fluid.

There will be a conference, there will be protests, be sure to dress casually and don’t count on regular train service. Pack an umbrella and mind the tear gas in the afternoon.