THE WHATEVERPEG K'VETCHN CENTRE
I recently had a Rosetta Stone dropped on my head.
You may remember that the Rosetta Stone unlocked the secrets of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
The Stone contained 2 languages, Egyptian and Greek, that were written in 3 scripts, Hieroglyphic, Demotic Egyptian and Greek. Because Greek was well known the stone was the key to deciphering the Hieroglyphs.
While trying to decipher the conundrum of Winnipeg's historic struggle to reinvent the 'Downtown' I realised that the key (Rosetta Stone) is to unlock the mystery of the citizens rabid resistance to change!
Why does Winnipeg have such a small town mentality and why are we perceived by the world as cheapskate complainers?
During the last century as the Western World transformed from an Agriculture based Economy, Rural to Urban, we were infiltrated by disgruntled farmers who reluctantly vacated farms and small towns.
Farmers only go into town when they have to so downtown redevelopment is of little concern to them.
This also explains our unnatural-unstoppable- unrelenting-obssession with the weather.
I realise that Farming is intrinsically at the mercy of Mother Nature (btw all of my ancestors were farmers) but now Winnipeggers are famous for disseminating the extreme climatic conditions of our city to the entire world....
It's too HOT!
OR too DRY! ....too WET!
too much SNOW not enough SNOW for the crops!
What crops? You live in the city now? Do you mean your front lawn?
Three groups that have been historically dogged by vicious and completely unsubstantiated rumors about being notoriously parsimonious or splurge-challenged are the Scots, the Mennonites and the Jews.
This city was settled by the first group, enthusiastically supports the single largest collection of Mennonites on Earth, and hosts the third largest Jewish community in Canada.
If, like myself, you are a member or related to a member who proudly proclaims their heritage with one of these groups laugh now...
if you are not, in order to remain politically correct, you are obligated to write a thousand word essay on the positive contributions made by all of the above.
Of course these fine citizens can't take all of the credit.
The various ethnocentricies of all of our other citizens can help to explain plastic guarded sofas, factory outlet malls and gigantic backyard gardens that grow more produce than is stocked at your local grocery store.
Ok smarty-pants, maybe you can tell me why Winnipeg doesn't have an IKEA store, NHL team, or why free weekend parking downtown doesn't even draw shoppers. The day that all of the parking at the FORKS is finally metered is the day that they can kiss it all goodbye!
This is a big small town!
Everybody knows somebody that you know somehow! If you have ever lived in a small town (I have) then you understand that community standards are enforced through the miraculous powers of gossip and shunning.
On top of that, Winnipeggers kvetch (Yiddish for complain), whine and generally carry on about anything and everything. Mosquitoes..Weather...Potholes..the Heat...the Cold...Cyclists...Snow Plowing...the Jets...Weather...Transit...9-term City Councillors..did I mention the Weather?
The truth of the matter is that we want it to stay small and not lose any of the idiosyncratic pleasures that gossip, shunning, and kvetching provide.
WHATEVERPEG KVETCHN' CENTRE:
Let us refurbish and rebrand our existing convention centre into the world's largest small town coffee shop where the locals can kvetch, complain, rant and rave about the whole city goin' to hell in a handbasket while enjoying the heavily government subsidized coffee and donuts.
Here the weather can be discussed until the cows come home.
We must continue to tell the world how awful this place is, and the weather..don't get me started! Hopefully nobody else will ever want to move here and that is exactly what we want! We love this place and we don't want it to change.
So we are shunning the world in the hope that nothing ever changes...