Monday, June 6, 2011

"Marshall McLuhan, Urban Activist" at the Torontoist

Gratuitous "cute" image, barely related to the story.
[Full article at the Torontoist] …So when McLuhan was prompted to political action, it was not the Vietnam War or apartheid in South Africa or other social issues of the day that were the target of his indignation. Rather, he dedicated himself primarily to environmental issues and urban affairs—especially of a highly local or personal nature.

McLuhan was particularly alarmed by environmental degradation. At one point, Marchand notes, he petitioned Prime Minister Diefenbaker "to commit Canada to a scientific quest for ways to remove radioactive particles from the atmosphere." But most of his environmental advocacy was localized to the campus and the Toronto community he occupied. As one who frequently picked up any litter he spotted on campus, McLuhan tried to rally support for the creation of volunteer civic clean-up committees. He initiated a single-handed but determined letter-writing campaign in protest after discovering that a dirt walking path on campus had been paved over by the university administration.

He sat on numerous boards and committees during his career, including Planetary Citizens as well as a three-person commission formed in 1969 to investigate the death of 10 ducks and ducklings on Ward's Island. Holding hearings at City Hall before an audience of student groups, island residents, professors, and journalists, the commission heard testimony from a variety of experts before eventually determining that the ducks had perished as a result of exposure to pesticides used on the island. Marchand described the scene: "Some of this testimony verged on the ridiculous. The chairman of the University of Toronto zoology department, for instance, revealed that there was enough DDT in human beings to render them inedible. McLuhan enjoyed himself thoroughly." MORE >>

No comments: