07 August 2009

Hello. My name is Alexander Arvelo McQuaig (although if you are reading this you probably already know my name because you're probably my best friend). I have been enjoying "spaces" a lot lately. I love to walk around in Toronto and explore public spaces. There is so much to find and talk about. Every time I walk or ride my bicycle I can't help but stop several times to get a better look at some sort of architecture or marvel at how terrible cars are or wonder why there's not a bicycle lane in this street or revel in the weird tranquility of a hidden urban alcove or watch weird people passing or think about the beauty of accumulated humanity found in big cities.

I often find places that make me feel like living there momentarily, like they could function as a remote extension of my home. I like how public (and semi-public) spaces provide this kind of open, free place where people can spend time. It's strange and exciting to think of how much space there is in a city where you could seemingly just sit there forever and read a book or whatever and no one would tell you to leave. It is like temporarily claiming a small bit of this space for oneself; it becomes yours and you can "live" there briefly.

In big cities like Toronto there are so many such places that are fun to spend time in. There are also so many different kinds of areas suited for different things. Here we will write about our city spaces. We will write about walks that you should go on, buildings you should see, our thoughts on visiting particular neighbourhoods, etc.

The name of this web log is inspired by a line from an Adrian Orange song called "Flags of the World Made in the Sky." I called this blog as such because it is about finding places to stay comfortably in open and public (or mostly public) spaces. My meaning for the title is like "everything can be your home" or "get out of your house to go home" (the sky as openness/external/public and stuff like that). Get it?

This will probably be a Toronto-centric operation because I'm obsessed with Toronto - I think about my city all the time and I want to devote my life to it - and all my friends (contributors) and I live in or around Toronto, but we will also talk about other cities (perhaps from a Toronto perspective).

Thank you

A. R. Arvelo McQuaig


  1. I realize you desire to focus on urban spaces in and around Toronto (and perhaps other cities), but would you be open include posts about natural areas of interest?
    This is the area that i feel most passionate about.

    Anyway, i like the title you've chosen, and am glad that this log now exists.

  2. I am most interested in built spaces or human-made or designated spaces, and how this built environment affects and can be adopted by passersby. Natural environments don't have this intionalness to them: A big part of what I like about analyzing cities is that there is a critical component; with natural environments, things are the way they are because they arose naturally, but built environments are the way they are because people chose to make them that way. Therefore one can critique the urban environment as though it were a piece of art or something, judging how well a space suits people and whether one should advocate a better way of doing things, etc.

    Observing natural environments (presuming a stance of preservation/conservation of the natural environment) must be primarily passive; one either enjoys the beauty of a forest or doesn't, but one can't judge the work or epoch that led to its form or assess its affects on people and whether it should continue to exist or be modified and improved. Viewing urban environments seems like a much more active activity whereby, by experiencing urban places, one interacts with past generations and the greater community/humanity that inhabits it, etc., whereas experiencing natural places is a more personal, asocial activity. I guess I'm interested in cities in a sort of sociological way (which obviously can't be applied to a forest or whatever).

    There is an anthropological history behind the form the environment takes; the way things look reflect decisions made in the past. One can speak forever about a given style of architecture or the mentality that led to infrastructure that favours cars or what life might be like living in St. Jamestown, but there isn't (or at least shouldn't be) this human component in nature.

    However, I would, of course, still be interested in hearing what you have to say about natural areas; I just would prefer this blog to concentrate on urbanity.

  3. Hey... great idea. Thanks for making me a contributor. I for one hope I'll live up to the title.

  4. I may have to argue with you about the natural spaces thing too, when I have more energy.