The New Year’s countdown is about to begin across Canada. Kind of hard to figure out this year what’s worth celebrating and what there might be to look forward to. Feels like one of those years when a lot of good stuff happened, and there were moments of real wonder — but overall, it mostly felt a lot like a long cold shower in a cheap room at the Hotel Reality.
Still, there is a good place to start when you wake up tomorrow morning.
Do it here. Then click through all the links in the series. You could do worse than open the new year over an aspirin, a coffee and some inspiring journalism. (And yes, of the mainstream variety, I hope some of you note.)
It is the Toronto Star’s latest offering in its annual Atkinson series; this year the project was awarded to Michael Valpy, and he spent it producing a series on the state of Canada’s social fabric.
I’ve been thinking for days about how to write something clever about the series that the newspaper I grew up with has produced. And I’ve concluded there isn’t really a lot to say except that you should read it. Valpy looks at everything from the cost of young people tuning out of communal life to the cost of tossing skilled folks out of work before their time — with the emphasis on the mutual cost we all pay. He writes about interns and immigrants and the First Nations Canadians we grew up calling Indians.
The series is a different kind of cold shower. Not a lot of delicate word-spinning or heavy theoretical wanking. Just some clean, clear, concise attention to some important issues, told through the eyes of the people at the centre of them, penned in language unavoidable for the rest of us.
It’s enough to wake you up and get you on your way to a brand new year with an ear tuned to the questions that matter — and an eye for who is, and isn’t, asking them.
Much credit to Valpy, and The Star, and the late Joe Atkinson. There’s hope yet for Canadian journalism, eh?