Thursday, April 27, 2006

In The Neighbourhood Where Jane Lived

Never, never underestimate the power of high hearts when they're combined with principled, unyielding wills.

That was Jane Jacobs.

She was a free thinker, a good citizen, an urban prophet, a beloved member of the Annex neighbourhood in Toronto, and frequent visitor to Dooney’s Café, where I spent the afternoon today with Socrates and Brian Fawcett.

Jane’s death was the thing that everybody was talking about around here all week. No. That’s wrong. It was Jane’s life that people were talking about.

Meanwhile, last night I read at Hart House at the University of Toronto, from my book, with Wayne Grady and Mark Jaccard. It was pretty rousing, I thought.

We were even blessed with a brief visit from the archdruid.

Speaking of public intellectuals, here’s somebody I really like:

Stephen Toope, a world-renowned international-law scholar, and a champion of the tortured, the abused, and the dispossessed. He was the youngest dean in the history of McGill University’s venerable law school. The novelists he’s reading these days are Orhan Pamuk, Amos Oz, and Ian McEwan. Toope is only 48, but even so he looks a lot younger, and on July 1 he becomes, officially, the big man on campus on Canada’s West Coast.

Which makes him my new boss.

I write about him in my Chronicles column today, here.


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