Posted on June 17, 2011
Mine And Ours
My home has changed. The neighbourhood that surrounds me has undergone a transformation in the last 48 hours that is not unlike being refined by fire, if you will. Anyone who has opened a newspaper, flicked on the news or clicked onto a blog since the evening of June 15th is well aware of the events that transpired in Vancouver and so going into any kind of detail is pointless.
Everyone has a voice and the impressions and ideals of the City of Vancouver have been stretched thin in the wake of Wednesday evening. It’s quite luxurious for anyone to have an opinion from the comforts of a distance – whether based on one’s biases, their past experiences with Vancouver or even their championing of our fair city.
A far more realistic take, however, will come from those that have witnessed everything with their own eyes from within the eye of the storm.
Downtown Vancouver is my home, it is my neighbourhood and it is the place where many of my friends live. It’s comprised of the streets we walk on to get to work, the corner stores from where we buy gallons of milk and late-night snacks and the parks we walk our dogs to on sunny days. It is “home” by the very definition of the word.
For any group of people to come into one’s neighbourhood and physically destroy everything that surrounds is incomprehensibly heartbreaking. As I made the daily walk to my office yesterday, it took every ounce of me to blink back tears seeing what had been done to my home, to the places and faces I see and greet each and every day.
Whether this happened in urban Vancouver or on tree-lined streets in a tiny interior town matters not. In a few short hours, the morale of an entire community was derailed by thousands of outsiders – people who did not live in the area, pay taxes to the local government or care for even a minute about the responsibility they as citizens of our planet have. As I stepped onto my balcony late that night, as the riot squad was advancing up my street just metres below me, neighbours of mine were on their balconies also shouting “go home!” to the intruders below.
When one’s home, body or rights to safety are being violated, fighting back is a perfectly acceptable response. Not with actions, not by fighting fire with fire, but by banding together as a community. By rising up from the ashes and broken glass and taking a stand against the violation.
Greater Vancouver residents from all walks of life converged on the downtown core as the sun rose yesterday morning and transformed this City. It was restored, it was rebuilt and it was renewed. Not simply by appearance but also in spirit.
Those of us that call Vancouver home will not tolerate or allow anyone to define us by the reckless actions of intruding outsiders. Painting this city’s residents with the same brush is hasty at best. Unless you live in Vancouver, unless you experienced the events of that particular night, your opinion is wholly moot. Those of us that call Vancouver home will not allow our home to be tarnished, but instead will ensure that the beauty and close comfort of our community will shine brightly.
While I may not always adore city life and I may have days where I’m more than ready to throw in the towel, this is still my home. This is still the place that I am proud of. It’s where I lay my head. It’s the streets that I walk to get to work. It’s the corner store where I buy gallons of milk and fulfill my late night chocolate cravings. It’s the parks that I take Jordy to on sunny days like day.
It’s beautiful and it’s mine and it’s ours.
[Thank you, Tony, for encouraging me to share my thoughts on all of this.]