Our Response to the Recent Vandalism at CoMotion 302

It’s been a bit of a rough spring for the CoMotion Group. By and large not bad and nothing that can’t be handled, but we have certainly faced a couple unexpected challenges.

In April, Hamilton had a day that experienced more rain in a 24-hour period than is typically received in a month, this caused a miniature geyser to spring up through the concrete floor of our CoMotion 302 space. In May, we came in on a Sunday morning to find our CoMotion on King space had been broken into, luckily there was no damage but some of our members had been severely impacted, which is of greater importance to us. Finally, this month, we arrived at work on the morning of Tuesday June 20th to find that the exterior of our CoMotion 302 space had been vandalized and damaged, and caulking had been sprayed into our locks.

Of those three little headaches, it’s honestly the last one that hits us harder. Not because it was bad damage, or the derogatory graffiti was particularly hateful or offensive, but more because it demonstrated a complete lack of understanding on the part of the people that did it, if not a complete lack of knowledge about who and what CoMotion is altogether.

Floods are expensive and tough, break-ins are costly and shake your sense of security, but misdirected vandalism that is rooted in a valid cause that has nothing to specifically do with you, that’s disappointing.

And that’s exactly it, we’re not mad, we’re just deeply disappointed.

The messages sprayed on the exterior walls clearly sum up the vandal’s intent. “Try Fucking Off,” and “Hamilton is Not Your Blanks Canvas.” We assume that these messages are in opposition to recent initiatives in the city that have been criticized for promoting gentrification at any cost. These messages speak to an opposition to, among other things, the negatives of gentrification in Hamilton, the results of large scale movement to the city from the GTA, and the impact that expensive infrastructure developments have on displacing and pricing Hamiltonians out of their own city.

Here’s the thing…

These initiatives are not CoMotion, nor is CoMotion their audience, nor is CoMotion an organization that believes in unchecked developments that make Hamilton an unlivable city for those who do and want to call it home.

What we are is a proudly born and bred Hamilton business, five of our six founders are born and raised Hamiltonians (one from down town, one from the east end, one from Ancaster, and two from the mountain). We are a community, support and space provider, to those who simply want to do their own thing (also who happen to be primarily Hamilton born and bred). And more importantly, we believe deeply in the Hamilton community, and playing any role we can to help it transform in a way that benefits all, whether Hamilton lifers, or new arrivals. This has included anything from:

  • Working on partnered initiatives that seek to improve education rates among under-represented communities in Hamilton with groups like Pathways to Education Hamilton
  • Supporting groups that seek to boost female representation and empowerment in STEM industries like Ladies Learning Code
  • Working with Global Connect Hamilton and businesses like Karam Kitchen to help newly landed immigrants and refugees find footing in their new community

We are disappointed because we don’t disagree with those who did this, we just don’t understand why they felt we are the target for their message. Gentrification is a complicated issue, there are benefits to change, but there are human costs and challenges that shouldn’t be swept under the rug. And as Hamilton lifers ourselves, as much as we’d like to see a revitalized Hamilton, we would also never want to see that at the cost (or loss) of those who have and want to call this city their home. In fact, that is largely the reason why we wanted to start CoMotion to begin with, to create spaces where people who call this city home can make their own work and find their own prosperity however they want to define it, whether rooted in a personal, professional, or spiritual sense of fulfillment.

We also don’t necessarily agree with those initiatives that encourage gentrification and urban renewal in the city, like anything else they have their upsides and their downsides. However, we can appreciate the willingness of those who coordinate them to pursue a more meaningful dialogue about the impacts.

And this is what we would be glad to do with the vandals. At our CoMotion spaces, we have two rules to build happiness in our spaces and community at large, the first is “the one-minute rule,” wherein if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it without delay. And the second is “the rule of the next person you see,” that whatever you do, good or bad, it has the potential to positively or negatively impact the next person you see.

We’re not sure what the vandals’ end goal was, but realistically, no good comes of what they did. At the end of the day it changes nothing in the city, and improves no one’s life. All it did was negatively impact our members and us for a very short period of time. But, in spite of having three vandals on camera, and other information already provided to us about the who they are, we would rather not take any step that would impact their life for the worse. Though we don’t agree with their actions and how it impacted us, we share their concerns.

We just hope they know that if they want to talk, in the spirit of collaboration and community as we have always operated, we would always be happy to welcome them in to do so.

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