Just a Passing Observation

The Good Old General Store

The Good Old General Store

The act of mundialization is when a city council officially declares itself a “world city” by voting an internationally recognized charter that declares the city’s awareness of global problems such as war, poverty, inadequate water supply, pollution, inadequate energy access and management, and the city’s sense of shared responsibility in working to resolving those issues. Mundialized cities consider themselves involved in symbiosis with each other for their very survival and advancement, and they observe a tradition of linking with other mundialized communities that, although are located in geographically and politically distinct places, they are similar in demographic and other characteristics. This linking is also known as “town twining”. Its intent is to cultivate civic contact, human contact and cultural links.

Hamilton currently has nine officially twinned cities:

• Shawinigan, PQ, Canada;

• Mangalore, India;

• Fukuyama, Japan;

• Racalmuto, Sicily, Italy;

• Ma’Anshan, China;

• Flint, Michigan, US;

• Sarasota, Florida, US;

• Valle Peligna, Abruzzo, Italy; and

• Monterrey, Mexico.

In addition, Hamilton’s constituent community of Dundas was paired with Kaga, Japan in 1968. Are you a citizen of any of these places?

I’m very proud of my tough old Steeltown. It takes its licks but never quits. I believe in the resilience of its people, and that it has yet to come to see its auspicious destiny. I believe that as a world city, it truly can play a vital role in bringing about positive change for its diverse citizens and this planet at large. As with other local artists, I want to show this town off.

Since 2007, the city’s Mundialization Committee has occasionally hosted Internet photography contests to celebrate the city’s pairings with its twins and encourage ongoing friendship and understanding. In 2008, the committee held a competition to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the twinning with Shawinigan, and the 40th Anniversary of the twinning with Mangalore, and Kaga. This was an opportunity to show Hamilton off and help promote multiculturalism.

The categories/themes of the 2008 competition were “Images of Peace”, “Hands Across the Border (Places and Spaces)” and “Special Bonds (People)”. There was also a special category just about Kaga. Out of my submissions for the first three themes, I won two of the categories, taking first and second place prizes.

Westfield Heritage Village is a fascinating living history museum operated by the Hamilton Conservation Authority. Located in the rural community of Rockton, this authentic village preserves the sights and sounds of daily living in 19th century Canada. Hamilton depends on trained, skilled and fully costumed volunteer “interpreters” to convincingly assume the roles of villagers.

I made this shot while at Westfield with my wife, her brother and his family. Going to the general store was one of the last stops we made there that day. This is not a facade, this is a fully functioning 19th to 20th century-style general store where you can buy whatever is for sale.

I watched the store manager serve a little boy – another visitor. At that fleeting moment, there was a grand opportunity to capture how well the man looked and behaved the part amidst the classic look of the store with the slightly diffused natural daylight coming through the window to his immediate right. I wanted to show just how much quality detail can be expected on any given excursion to the village. So, I quickly composed the picture to capture these elements and took several shots to get the best facial expressions and physical gestures as the man interacted with his young customer. This was the best image out of the group, and before submitting it to the competition I cropped it to create a cinematic wide-angle feel. It was selected to be the overall winner in the Special Bonds category.

I express my deepest gratitude to the independent panel of judges for selecting me as the winner, and to the Hamilton Mundialization Committee for holding this fantastic contest. It is an honour to be so recognized for promoting the things that I have so much faith in.

I also congratulate my fellow citizens who won the other two categories.

In keeping with the project outline, this image is included in Hammer Home in the traditional black and white, and without being cropped to a cinematic aspect ratio.

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7 thoughts on “Just a Passing Observation

  1. Congratulations for winning. It’s an evocative image that is very appealing.
    What you describe is completely new to me. Pity. I am sick and tired of all this globalization where everything should look the same (little china syndrome that even China has moved away)
    Today the Stockholm consists of centers, sports shops, restaurants and cafes. Small shops will soon be thing of the past.

    • You’re actually not alone. Although we still have the small venues here, they now have to compete with the myriad big chain superstores that are monopolizing the western world. In Hamilton, all of the periphery is dominated by “big box” shopping plazas, and almost every one has a Wal-Mart superstore in them. Their biggest competition of late is the Target chain that has bought out all of the old Zeller’s stores that were in every plaza that Wal-Mart wasn’t.

      Although far from the urban centre where the small shops are, the “big box” locations are in the more modern suburbs and rural areas under development. They also have lots of free parking, and cheaper commodities so they still have the power to yank a lot of business away from the small venues downtown. Some small businesses, from shoe stores to restaurants, cannot compete with the big chain names. I believe that the General Store at Westfield Heritage Village is now the ONLY actual general store still in existance around this city.

      Whether anyone sees it as a good thing or bad, that’s how much times have changed right under our noses.

      • Individualism is not those big chains promotes. I live in Sweden but my parents live in Hungary. When I go there, is the same goods in the shops, the same film series on television, the advertising on television the same… and so on. Scary how everything is just the same everywhere. Appealing to me in the slightest but do not know what you could do. Is that really the only way we have? Being eaten by large corporations?

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