By Lindsay Gibb
I’m tired of staring at computer screens.
It’s something I do all day, every day, and it’s something I’m doing right now as I write this, but it’s really starting to get to me. Not just in a “I’m burning out my retina” sort of way, or because there’s barely any light in my office so I’m squinting as I write this. No, it’s not my eyes that are my biggest concern, but rather my soul. If TV rots your brain, I think the computer sucks my spirit. In particular, sitting behind a monitor makes me feel immobile and disconnected.
The irony is it should, technically, make me more connected because I’m online 90% of the time I’m staring at the screen. While it may allow me to be more in touch with the news and communities far away from my front door, the disconnect I feel is with what’s going on around me.
This feeling isn’t completely the computer’s making, mind you. Part of it is that I find the world outside of my office intimidating. Living in Toronto, it sometimes feels like I’m working in a vacuum because, like other big cities, the arts communities here are often more competitive than they are supportive. While there’s a lot I hated about growing up in Brampton, Ontario, sometimes I long for the connection I felt to the groups of people I created music and zines with and the necessity to band together against the depression of the suburbs themselves.
Dreaming of meaningful communities lead us to send Maggie MacDonald across Canada for this issue of Broken Pencil. Her mission was to not only carry the torch of independent culture and fly the flag of artistic freedom, but, more importantly, to discover what is growing in the nooks and crannies of this country. On her journey she found a lot of people who were not only using new and unusual methods to entertain themselves and their neighbours, but she found some people for whom independence held a different sort of meaning; one that incorporates living off the land, looking only to ones surroundings for the means to get by (page 20).
This issue also reflects my longing for community through articles that question the disappearance, depletion and discouragement of one community while celebrating the growth of others. Robert Dayton explores what made him (and many others) vacate Vancouver in search of a nurturing arts community (page 25), Laura Kenins delves into the development of zines in Latvia (page 5) and Samantha Trees cheers for her Calgarian sisters who banded together to make her feel welcome in a new town (page 41).
As much as I know I won’t be chucking my computer over the balcony anytime soon (much to my husband’s chagrin), I do plan to step away from the screen as much as possible. I need to cut the umbilical cord and hit the road to see more of the places we write about in person, rather than just looking at them through the Internet.