This week’s podcast topic of Awesome Small Towns has made me realize how much I am a small town girl at heart. All my life I have lived in fairly big cities and would definitely be classified as a City Girl. I can hail a cab like no-one’s business. I know how to walk down the street in heels, whilst putting on lipstick AND talking on the phone. I am at home in large crowds and love the sound of my heels clicking on the sidewalk.
That’s why it makes sense that I live in East Vancouver, British Columbia – because it’s about as City as you can get.
My particular neighbourhood of Strathcona has been described as being our very own Sesame Street and is the oldest part of Vancouver City. It’s a little inner city pocket full of artists, musicians, small businesses, gorgeous tree lined streets and heritage homes. Plus, it’s just outside of Chinatown. It has the perfect mix of urban chic and small town quaintness. I guess that’s why Once Upon A Time and Grimm are frequently filmed here.
But the best part of my neighbourhood is the diversity and sense of community. Being a person of mixed race, it was very important for me to raise my son in a community that embraced diversity and acceptance. Here, there are mixed raced couples, same sex couples and parents, artists, lawyers, yuppies, hippies, Hipster Soccer on Sundays and frequently the homeless and mentally ill. For some, being near the ‘margins of society’ would make them not want to buy a home here but by being part of this neighbourhood, it has given my family a sense of gratitude and compassion. In turn, our local homeless and mentally ill community treat the ‘home owners’ and our children with such respect and kindness due to everyone’s ability to show them respect and a sense of community. Our local playground is kept clean and they let us know that they have cleaned up any beer cans, cigarette butts or loiterers because the park is for the kids. That’s why I have taught my son to always say Hello and Good Morning to them so that he will always recognize them as people who deserve respect and recognition.
So if anyone were to ask me what my favourite small town is, it would be my neighbourhood. It’s not perfect and can be a bit scary at times. But it makes me thankful for the small things in life and to embrace the idea of being part of a community. So tonight I’m going to be spending time on my porch, enjoying my Christmas lights in this beautiful city, in my very own perfect small town where I can feel grateful to be a part of a community where compassion and respect are practised.
Tune in this week to The Heatley Cliff and find our what other small towns have captured our hearts and imaginations…..