Glenn Crawford is a bit of a perfectionist, and he has a fetish for Henry VIII paraphernalia, not to mention a progressive and realistic vision for the proposed village downtown. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve kings or queens… okay, maybe a few queens, but who’s counting.
He is, so far, the solitary member of Ottawa’s public advisory committee on the proposed queer village downtown. There hasn’t been an official meeting called, and Crawford, 37, doesn’t know if anyone else has or will step up to join him on the committee. “The city is taking their time,” he says.
He was approached by the city in May, probably because he persisted, then persisted some more, not letting city hall forget about the queer community. “There were more volunteers, but I was the last man standing,” says Crawford.
Many people say they do, but Crawford really does love a challenge. To him, the biggest challenge is Ottawa’s relatively small population. Toronto and Montreal both have well established villages, but also have more faces to fill them.
So what is Crawford’s vision for a queer village on Bank between Laurier and Gladstone? He sees more restaurants, clothing and gift shops, and generally more diversity of businesses. “We have to have more than camera shops and pubs,” says Crawford.
Last September, he took a solo trip to New York City for nine days, just to take in the sites. He saw that everyone was really obviously checking everyone else out.
“I thought that was just in movies, but it’s real. I wish we could bottle some of that and bring it to Ottawa,” says Crawford.
He refers to Ottawa’s dating scene as a little “cloak and dagger” sometimes, possibly because there is no designated village.
Crawford, who is single but dating, says people need to be encouraged to stay in Ottawa to build a really loud and proud gay community, instead of leaving for a bigger city.
He grew up in Kanata, and came out at age 28, as it was “extremely scary” to come out when he was younger.
Crawford doesn’t want to push his vision to the front of the project, even though he is, admittedly, a bit of a control freak. He recently sent out a survey because he’s in need of the community’s input on their village. “It’s for everyone, and everyone should have a say.”
He confesses that he’s a “political novice,” and is relatively new to city hall hierarchy, but he knows the city and its businesses, especially GLBT businesses, better than most. You only need to look at his client list for Jack Of All Trades Design to see how many members of the queer community he has satisfied.
Jack Of All Trades was started in 2003, and Crawford himself is the only designer. He has been behind the last four Pride campaigns, volunteering his time and energy to make the celebration memorable. He still gets requests for posters of the “Back on Track” campaign he designed for Pride 2005. He also volunteers to help market community events, including Swirl n’ Twirl and HallowQueen.
“What I enjoy most is the creative element,” says Crawford. “I’m very right-brained, with a lot of left brain capabilities.”