Jane Jacobs, Immigrant

A version of this article was originally posted on my Jane’s Walk Phoenix blog on April 13, 2010.

As a Canadian living in the Unites States, I found the passage below extremely interesting. I have had almost the exactly same experience, only in reverse. When I first moved down to Arizona, many of my friends and acquaintances couldn’t figure out why we were doing it, and many assumed it would be just a temporary thing until we got it out of our system and realized our mistake. Canadians may very well know that there are places just as real as Canada, they just tend not to think of the US as one of them :-).

While we have no long terms plans to stay (our current residency situation does not allow it, and it REALLY sucks not to be able to vote), we have enjoyed our time here immensely, met some amazing friends and have gained an even deeper appreciation of the country and it’s citizens. At the same time, we are proud Canadians, and still cherish or friends and family there.

Yes, we were but we were—you know this was another thing that we found out when we got here. Americans don’t really think that other places are as real as America. We were leaving things behind. Well, we were coming to other things that were just as real and just as interesting and just as exciting.And people would ask me after we had decided to stay, “Well, when are you coming back?” “Well, we’re not. We are living here.” “Oh, but you can’t just—you’ve got to come back to real life.” And I would say, “It’s just as real.”

This is very hard for Americans to understand and I think that may be the biggest difference between Americans and people elsewhere. Canadians know that there are places just as real as Canada. It’s a self-centeredness that’s a very strange thing.

/…/

Yes, they have got it so dingged [sic] into them that they are the most fortunate people on Earth and that the rest of the world—the sooner it copies what America is like, the better. I still have a lot of family in America. I still have a lot of friends there.

There is a lot that I admire there very much. When I find America getting too much criticized outside America, I want to tell them how many things are good about it. So I am not any hate-America person. I really came here for positive reasons. We stayed for positive reasons, because we liked it.

Why did I become a Canadian citizen? Not because I was rejecting being a U.S. citizen. At the time when I became a Canadian citizen, you couldn’t be a dual citizen. Now you can. So I had to be one or the other. But the reason I became a Canadian citizen was because it simply seemed so abnormal to me not to be able to vote.

Jane Jacobs, in an interview with James Howard Kunstler, 9/6/2000

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this passage.

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Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.

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