Today a dear friend of mine was arrested for trying to stop a Toronto bike lane from being removed by “the city” aka. Rob Ford. There was no public consultation for the removal of the Jarvis Bike Lane, and gentle Tomislav sat calmly in the bike lane, sipping at his coffee, while the truck approached to remove the paint denoting the bike lane, and a police officer tried to persuade him to move to the sidewalk. That’s about most of what I know of the event (see article.) I’m thinking of him and very proud of him today.
I met Tomislav when I moved to Toronto into his awesome communal house, “The No Plastics House”. Tomislav is one of those people whose every day, and every moment is a form of protest- his work, his home, his transportation, his state of consciousness. He went on a “carbon strike” in 2007, deciding to only use bicycles and public transportation and to never ride in cars. (You can see his CBC radio interview about his carbon strike here.) He also started a communal house some call “The No-Plastics House” that strives to keep things made of (or packaged in) plastic out, and sustainable materials/foods/lifestyle choices in. Through his work as a physician at Seaton House, and through his research Tomislav brings justice to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in Toronto. And from living with him and getting to know him, I’ve seen that on a daily basis Tomislav strives to be mindful of his actions, gentle, kind, and non-violent.
So it’s not a surprise that the first time he may ride in a car since going on a “carbon strike” in 2007 would be in a police cruiser, trying to keep bike lanes in existence for social, economical, and environmental reasons.
You may think, why care? Why protest? Why live in a way that is contrary to culture?
People like Tomislav, people who choose a few important battles and fight them with creativity and confidence, make it possible for justice to find a voice in a crumbling world. There are so many things to stand for, no one can stand for them all- but if we each lived, ate, worked, and thought as a form of protest we might soon find ourselves with allies, and with enough power to stop idiot mayors from surreptitiously taking away rights, bikelanes… the future.
Thank you Tomislav, and I hope you are back on your bicycle soon!
Read more about the no-plastics house here