A few days ago, I noticed a comment about Kingsgate Mall on a friend's status update on Facebook. A short conversation evolved with one or two people essentially complaining about how depressing that mall is & how the neighbourhood is 'just one of those areas'. It got my back up a bit because this is where I chose to live & raise my family. Yes, it is a mixed neighbourhood with demographics ranging from dirt poor, to working class to the rich who can actually afford the occasional multi-million dollar homes here. I wondered if the people making the disparaging comments actually live in this area. Do they know about all the amazing community projects that are going on within metres of so-called 'Skidgate' Mall?
Because we walk or bike most places, we actually see a lot of what's happening in the area. Maybe the commenters go everywhere by car & miss out on this stuff driving down the main streets. I thought I'd write about a few things I've come across just in the past week.
Last Sunday, we noticed a group of people playing music in the middle of the traffic circle at St. George & 10th Avenue. They told us they do it weekly here in 'Vancouver's Smallest Park'. We discovered them on our way to take a look at the St. George Library, a little outdoor installation where people from the neighbourhood can share books & post notices.
Yesterday Sprout & I came across Krista, a local stone worker, putting the finishing touches on a natural stone & found object mosaic in the centre of the same traffic circle. She said they'd received a bit of funding for the project, but not enough to completely cover materials. Check out the gorgeous natural stone & recycled paver walkways, steps & walls she's done on her website, kstone.
daylight a portion of the long-ago culverted stream that runs under St. George Street. This whole area used to have many streams running through it a hundred or so years ago--one of which was called Brewery Creek because of all the beer makers using its water. If you stop in the middle of St. George Street, especially near the manhole covers north of Broadway, you can still hear the water rushing through in its dark culvert. This slide show of the proposed St. George Rainway project has maps of where Vancouver's streams used to be, many examples of other cities who've done this (watch for the incredible before & after of a daylighting project in Seoul) plus some projections of how it would look.
A little up the hill from the library & mosaic'd traffic circle is the Mount Pleasant Family Centre, At the northwest corner of Robson Park. In front of the centre is a work in progress called the Storytellers' Bench. It's an adobe structure built by volunteers that is being covered in mosaic work. Unfortunately, I haven't got a photo of it, as I keep forgetting to snap one when I've seen them working on it & it's still under a tarp at other times. You can find more info about it on the website of Vancouver Society of Storytelling.
Another thing I found when researching background on the above projects was the St. George Rainway mural project slated to start in June. The mural will be painted on a block-long stretch of the roadway on the East side of Mount Pleasant Elementary School.
UPDATE: another project just being built now on the west side of Mount Pleasant Elementary: the Brewery Creek Community Garden.
There's a lot of neighbourhood pride here in Mount Pleasant & the 'Fraserhood' that's not obvious if you judge us by the one mall in our area. But are shopping malls really the yardstick to measure a neighbourhood's merits?
If you like what you read here, please vote for me in the Vancouver Mom Ultimate Blogger contest. Voting closes soon on June 4, 2012. Thanks!