A Keen Sense Of What Is Worth ReadingMonday, May 07, 2012
Guest Blog by Ray Spaxman former City Planner
Over the years one develops a keen sense of what is worth reading and what isn't.
During the 30's, as a small boy I would wait on that special morning each week for my favourite comic to be delivered to our door. I would grab it before it touched the ground, run to my special place and devour it. Much later, during the 70's and 80's, I responded with similar enthusiasm to the arrival of the Vancouver Magazine. The colourful cover and feature headline was always remarkable but Sean Rossiter's back page "12th and Cambie" was the place I would check out first. Like most of Sean's writing it was easy to read, full of real information and wrapped in a creative and thoughtful opinion. He was able to capture the reader's interest immediately and guide us through intriguing interpretations and ideas to the punch line. Despite the complexities of the multitude of interweaving forces at play in civic affairs, Sean was able to describe what was going on in City Hall without destructive oversimplification. He became a reliable and essential resource for people who really wanted to know about their city. People looked forward to what Sean had to say. As readers we could sense his passion for the place and discover what made it tick.
I should acknowledge my own personal interest in Sean's work. For most of the 70's and 80's I was Director of planning for the City. I had to deal with numerous contentious issues. They ranged from decisions about subdivision of property, to decisions about major and minor development projects, to where the city would be in 20 years time and how to get there in the most liveable way, to how high and what shape and density buildings ought to be, how to work with communities on local area plans, to my favourite, that is what really constitutes good neighbourliness. These issues were frequently contentious and garnered the attention of the media. There is no policy, however well intentioned or crafted, that will please everyone. The media often only has the time and resources to pick up the story of the day and tell its observers what people might be saying about the issue. It seems that conflict and disagreement may be more attractive than what may be conceived as the public interest.
Oversimplification continues to be the bane of journalism. The issues are often very complex and involve balancing economic, environmental and social matters. It takes a great deal of research, knowledge, intelligence, intuition and some risk to handle these issues. Then it takes another degree of skill to report on these issues accurately, clearly and in a way that is informative and rewarding to the reader and proposes a positive outcome.
Thank You Sean
Ray Spaxman Consulting Ltd.
Planning and Urban Design Services
Addendum: The Western Magazine Awards Foundation is pleased to announce the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Sean Rossiter.