by Ryan McLaren

Happy 2006! I’ve been thinking about the coming year for a while now. 2005 held some drastic life changes for me, especially in terms of my involvement with Wavelength and the music community in Toronto, and I’ve been thinking long and hard about what 2006 is going to hold.

There are a lot of issues facing our community right now. I think it’s time we took stock of what we have and what we want. Where we are and where we want to be.

I should explain that I’m not a musician. When I started going to shows regularly and started meeting people, they would ask me, ‘So, what band are you in?’? ‘How do you know people here?’? ‘Do you play?’? It wasn’t until I started helping out with Wavelength that I finally felt like I had something to say in response to those questions. How do you relate to a community if you aren’t involved in that community? If you’re just a passive observer?

There’s a line, an obvious division, between those on the outside of the community and those inside — those actively participating and those passively participating. If you go to a show, and you aren’t part of the ‘scene’?, it’s a little intimidating. When I started getting involved in this community, I tried to get some of my other friends to join me, without luck. They saw the music community as exclusive, pompous, and self-aggrandizing. I spent a lot of time arguing against that. I’ve always seen this community as just that, a community, striving for the greater good of the fans, the bands, and everyone involved.

But there are divisions. At what point does the community stop and the ‘scene’? begin? And what are we doing to break down the walls between those on the inside and those on the outside? Can we be doing more to make what we’re doing more accessible? Do we need to make it more accessible? Is there a point where inclusivity is more detrimental than beneficial?

I don’t hear many people talking about these issues directly. They’re there, they’re hinted at, but it’s rare to see them addressed. And I think we’re coming to a point where the community is expanding, and we need to start talking about our goals if we’re going to remain a positive and open community, instead of just another scene.

There’s no time like the present to start asking these questions, to bring these kinds of issues forward, and to start doing. I’ve been talking to a number of different people in the last month or so about 2006 and there seems to be a mutual feeling of positivity and enthusiasm. Call it 2006opia. The same love and awareness that came out of Torontopia will, I hope, be focused not on a place, but on a time. We already know how great this city is. We already know that some of the most amazing things the arts community, the political community and beyond will emerge here and they will emerge from us. And they’re going to emerge now.

We can help each other achieve our goals, not just by working together to share resources, but by motivating each other. Discipline is fucking hard, but it’s easier when you have a supportive group of people working with you and prodding you to achieve your goals. We have to start taking initiative to create the changes we’re looking for, to create the city we want and to create the future we want. We need to talk about what we want so we can work together to achieve our goals. Whatever you want to create, there’s no better place to create it than right here. And there’s no better time to do it than right now.

Personally, I’m through waiting. Happy 2006 everyone!