It’s only second semester, and some Western students are looking for more to do than going to Jack’s every Thursday. In order to show London has a lot of life, Londonfuse has created a website that allows people to cruise what the city has to offer. Londonfuse.ca hopes to expose some hidden gems, and unlock the potential a simple bus pass can offer.
Ryan Craven, community developer and active participant of Londonfuse, explains why student engagement is important for the city—and how Londonfuse wants to play a key role in community cultural enrichment.
“Londonfuse was started about three or so years ago, by my friend Thomas, who had noticed there wasn’t enough media coverage of the cultural and arts scene that he and his friends were a part of, so he created it,” Craven explains.
The site accelerated after its coverage and participation in conjunction with the third London Ontario Live Arts Festival (LOLA), he explained, and Craven became involved after some networking himself.
“About a year after [LOLA] when I organized Car Free Day, people from Londonfuse got in touch with me, told me to come to meetings and I thought it was cool and kept on coming,” he says.
The site carries a goal that is not too far out of reach, according to Craven.
“I want [Londonfuse] to be a primary media source for events and knowledge of the city. I want it to help people that live in London to learn about and know and love their city.”
Formed of user-generated content about London and surrounding area events, Londonfuse is a type of social networking site for businesses, artists, educators, urban planners, thrill seekers and curious locals. While students have a bad reputation for staying in the “Western bubble,” Craven has seen firsthand the effect students from other cities can have in contributing to London’s cultural scene. Craven gave an example of a friend from another city, who had connected with other artists through Fuse, and ended up living with fellow musicians and becoming an active part of the indie music scene in London.
One of Craven’s favourite qualities of London is its unique interaction of nature and urbanity.
“I love to experience the bike trails—you’re in the middle of the city and it feels like you’re in the middle of a forest, and that’s pretty special.”
As for the negative attitude that many students have, Craven has something to say.
“What happens in smaller cities like London is that there is not enough density that you would find in Montreal or Toronto, where there’s a bunch of, say, punk bars, so it’s really easy to get into the punk community,” he explains. “That doesn’t exist in London because there’s not enough of us that are living close together for that critical mass to happen. What Londonfuse provides is what we call a digital density [and] like any tool, it’s up to you to use it.”
“A city, like a life, is what you make of it,” he concludes.