Category Archives: The Fourth Wall

My mom: Chief Director of Customer Service

With all the talk about increasing “customer service” in Toronto, you would think that our own City Hall would have a couple of full-time receptionists who can help people find their way.  In fact, you would think that in a city of 2.5 million people, our City Hall would have three or four receptionists! Hey, why not even go a step further?  We often hear that we should run the city “like a business”.  Well, the smartest businesses are the ones that have swarms of customer service reps and ‘greeters’ who are readily available to offer assistance.

But here at City Hall we have one part-time receptionist on duty, sitting behind an enormous desk.  Often, her chair sits empty and there is simply a sign that says:

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The first DNA award goes to…..Pemberton, BC!

Village of Pemberton CAO Daniel Sailland, Communications Coordinator Jill Brooksbank & Mayor Jordan Sturdy.

Last week, I had the privilege of delivering an award to the Mayor of Pemberton, British Columbia.  Here’s the story behind the award:

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Crowd Funding: Help bring the Fourth Wall exhibit to life!

Six months ago, the Fourth Wall exhibit was installed at the Urbanspace Gallery for a successful three month visit.  The exhibit explores 36 proposals aimed at transforming our local democracy.  At the end of January, the exhibit was removed from the walls of the gallery, and we’ve been trying to figure out how to bring it back to life in other formats. Continue reading

Fourth Wall: City Hall Scorecard

As I wrote on January 24th, the recommendations from the Fourth Wall exhibit are already making waves at City Hall.  With strong support from both City staff and City Councillors, individual items are being brought forward one by one.  The ball is now rolling, and this blog post will serve as a ‘living document’, tracing the progress of all 36 proposals.

I’ll list them in two formats: By status & by item (1 – 36)

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Fourth Wall is coming down: Saturday tours

The  ‘Fourth Wall’ exhibit, is closing down on January 31st.

The exhibit, which has been up at the UrbanSpace Gallery for three months, proposes 36 simple recommendations for democratic renewal, exploring ways to make local politics more inclusive, accessible and participatory.

For those who would like a guided “walk-thru” of the exhibit, I’ll be hosting three tours on Saturday January 28th at noon, 2pm, and 4pm.

The exhibit is at 401 Richmond Street (at Spadina) on the main floor, beside SWIPE bookstore.

Transforming City Hall, with Paul.

17 recommendations going to City Hall this week

It’s been three months since I launched the ‘Fourth Wall’ exhibit, exploring ways to make local politics more inclusive, accessible and participatory.

The response has been overwhelming, with hundreds of people attending the gallery including student groups, City staff, City Councillors, journalists, the mayor of Calgary, and my mom.

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“Is there a map?” • Recommendation #34

(The Fourth Wall exhibit has 36 recommendations.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a few of them….)

Recommendation # 34:  “Better signage and outreach/education materials should be created in our City Hall lobby.”

If a citizen walked into City Hall today looking for some information about our local democracy, they could be excused for thinking they were in the wrong place.  The main floor of 100 Queen Street West is currently configured primarily as a kiosk for developers and an information centre for tourists.

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Let’s get City Hall online • Recommendation # 35

(The Fourth Wall exhibit has 36 recommendations.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a few of them….)


Recommendation # 35:
Free and open Wi-fi should be immediately installed at City Hall and all Civic Centres.

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Five Weeks at Fourth Wall • Adapting to the life of a tour guide (photo gallery)


It’s been just over a month since the Fourth Wall exhibit launched at the Urban Space Gallery, and I can’t tell you how inspired and amazed I am by the public response.  I knew that a handful of municipal geeks would be into it, and some long-time urban activists… but I didn’t expect a non-stop flow of students, civil servants, politicians, journalists, etc.

I’ve been leading tours through the exhibit, almost daily.  And each group brings with them a different point of view and different suggestions/questions.  And no matter what their age, or background, or career, they all seem genuinely interested in the subject matter – even the students who are forced to be there!

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The Fourth Wall • Transforming City Hall

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