Big (and happy, for a change) news! I’ve met someone. She’s attached, got a young son, and her name is Tania Howells. Tania is into maps, and if there’s one thing One Block North needs right now, it’s a mapping person.

She sent me some links to samples of her work, which is whimsical, intelligent, and upbeat. “Nice!” I thought. “I’m interested,” I decided.

http://tania.blogs.com/tania/2012/11/hello-old-friend.html (The Junction)

http://tania.blogs.com/tania/2009/09/evolution-of-a-drawing.html (Montreal, for Maisonneuve Magazine)

http://tania.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c73bb53ef0147e183e557970b-pi (parts of Toronto, for Downtown Steps Magazine)

We had coffee. I told her I liked the St. Clair West neighbourhood, and the Wychwood Barns. LEAF. Her face lit up. She’d done some work for LEAF—buttons advertising native trees. I shook her hand.

“I’ve worn your work!” I told her. “Proudly!” I added. “You’re hired, if you want the job!”

Leafbuttons

She did want the job, so now we’re percolating. Both of us are considering how best to map this book. We figure we want one big map that gives a general sense of where important cycling landmarks are: the West Toronto Railpath, the Don Trail, some of the more cyclable streets. I also want a topographical map that shows where the best hills are, how to get across the Don Valley, just how green this city is.

Then, Tania thinks certain chapters should have their own map, to give the reader a clear sense of the story’s routes.

You see, my objective with this book has always been to get more people out on bicycles. To demonstrate with these stories that it’s our perception that cycling is too expensive, too hard, too dangerous, for younger people, for older people, for more athletic people. Cycling in Toronto is awesome, and these stories prove it. I’ve proven to myself that anyone—even a fifty-five-year-old, rcreationally inclined woman, who didn’t know what a fixie was and was unwilling to change her own flat tires—even she, that is, even I could ride a bike here, with a little knowledge and a pocketful of confidence.

A map is just a tool, but what a tool! It illustrates our stories, giving them even more texture, making them more accessible. Subtly suggestive. These maps will remove even more barriers. “Look!” The maps will say. “These ideas you’ve been reading about? They’re not just for the storyteller. You can do this, too! It happened right here. Go get your bike!”

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