Belonging

A Moment of Grace on the Cannon Bus

About a year ago, I witnessed a beautiful piece of street choreography: spontaneous, unrehearsed and unselfconscious.

By Michelle Martin
Published August 12, 2015

Make art. Make Art!
— Glen Hansard, 2008 Academy Awards

In our city, we've got galleries, Art Crawls, Open Streets, and music festivals by the dozen. We know that art is the new steel, even if we don't own that particular t-shirt. This year, we've even got Dusk Dances, and by all accounts they're worth the trip down to Bayfront Park. We are rightfully proud of our community's artistic blossoming.

But about a year ago, I witnessed a beautiful piece of street choreography: spontaneous, unrehearsed and unselfconscious. It rose up out of the daily hum and subsided as quickly, a miniature flash-mob of three people on the HSR.

I was riding the Cannon bus, teaching someone a new route as part of my day job, and everything was moving along quite well. The bus stopped near Cannon and Wentworth and more passengers got on, but the bus operator didn't close her doors right away.

She started calling out to someone on the sidewalk: her sharp eyes had caught a person with a visual impairment, navigating with a red and white cane, who had gotten turned around from the bus stop and appeared to be having difficulty locating the sound of the operator's voice, due to the ambient noise of traffic and other sounds.

Before anyone else realized exactly what was happening, an observant fellow passenger quickly deboarded. He lightly, and politely, guided the person to safely board the bus. Then everyone sat back down, and the ride continued uneventfully.

Transit-related flash mobs are all over YouTube, going viral time and again, from the Sound of Music dance in Antwerp Central Station to the Lion King cast flash mob on the subway in New York City. And they're great, sure. They generate a little fellow feeling, a little warmth, a little respite from the cares of the day.

Do I carry any of them in my heart, to ponder, to learn from? No.

But a year later, I think of that moment of grace, that beautiful dance on the HSR Number 3 Cannon Westbound, and try to remember its lessons for me.

Make art. Make art!

Michelle Martin lives in Hamilton where she and her husband are watching their 10 children fly the nest, one by one. She has been published in both the Hamilton Spectator and Raise the Hammer, as well as in the online edition of the National Post and, more recently, in the Canadian Urban Transit Association's Urban Mobility Forum. Michelle is coordinator of the Community Access to Transportation program. She was formerly on the writing/copy editing team of the original Crown Point hub paper, The Point. However, the opinions she expresses in Raise the Hammer are her own. She sometimes tweets @deltawestmom

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted August 12, 2015 at 16:40:19

What a beautiful piece! It is truly in the little things that we find our moments of grace and of faith in our City and fellow human beings.

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By BiljanaV (anonymous) | Posted August 13, 2015 at 09:19:11

What also makes this a great example of choreographed humanity is that it was spontaneous, a result of clear need and empathy. The transit "flash mobs" are organized social spectacle, but this example was real life and, I venture, far more common than flash mobs. Thanks for sharing!

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted August 17, 2015 at 23:11:14

Love this.

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