No Exodus for Me

I’m not leaving !

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Today I read a Vancity buzz article written by someone likely my age, contemplating staying in Vancouver or leaving. I thought it was annoying. Millennials are very annoying. I would know, because I am one. I’ve also spent most of the last decade moving away from Vancouver or moving back to Vancouver. For the record, since graduating from university I’ve lived in Surabaya (Indonesia), Ankara (Turkey) and Gold Coast (Australia). About 4.5 out of the past 8 years has been in flux. Most recently I had the opportunity to move to London (England).

But, for once, I decided to stay !

Lately there has been a lot written about the general doom and gloom of the Vancouver condition – the city is going to be a ghost town soon ! Foreign ownership ! Millennials can’t buy houses! It rains ! It’s boring !

I’ve myself written, ranted and cried about the struggle of living in Vancouver many times over the years.

As one would say in organizer circles – “suffering is optional“. If you are suffering the rain, the expensiveness, the weird west coast Vancouver specific doucheyness, and also hate skiing, hiking or camping – I’d say, get out.

But if you do love these things, or can at least put up with these things, I say – stay ! If everyone accepts defeat at the hands of corporations and poor government policy (housing, wages …) and packs up – who is going to fight for what’s left? And I think it is important to remember that …

People are fighting, and sometimes even winning.

Remember that election we had, oh, a few months ago? I don’t think many people anticipated that kind of change. But people worked hard to get the vote out and people voted for something other than the status quo. When I moved home most recently I started volunteering with Dogwood – which identifies itself as an environmental democracy group. Environment. Democracy. Two things I love about Canada and the west coast.  Dogwood had some wins this year and you can read more about them here.

Maybe that’s  not your interest. Fine. Do you really care about affordable housing? So does the Metro Vancouver Alliance.  They do more than sign petitions and protest, they take action. That was from their website, but the alliance does work with dozens of community groups to facilitate change in areas like affordable housing – by working together, showing up, and taking a stand.

Democracy only really works if people are engaged (and enraged?). It is very easy to do shitty things to the public if not enough people are actively pissed off. On Sunday a group of protestors went and … protested. At the site of a perfectly good monster house on the Westside set to be demolished, to build another monster house. City Councillor Adriane Carr was at the protest, and agreed that the zoning bylaws need to be changed. Even if it was just for a photo op – if enough people are kicking up a fuss eventually the powers that be are forced to listen.

We are still fortunate to live in a democracy that more or less functions.

It’s not going to be easy to fight for affordable housing and living wages while balancing foreign investment / ownership over local concerns and priorities. We’ve all got a choice. Fight for your home, or pack up for greener pastures. But if nobody fights, well, I guess we all lose.

So, I’m staying and fighting for …

Wreck Beach – Is this not the chillest beach, like, ever?

(No photos, because it’s kind of frowned upon)

The Cambie Bridge – Walking to and from downtown over this bridge, at anytime, provided it is not pouring rain.

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Chicken Fingers at Red Robin on Robson, walking it off on the Cambie Bridge … gt’s, gt’s

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That air.

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A bluebird day at Whistler

Skiing, hiking, camping, kayaking, walking … (yes, if you are going to live here I would suggest you like at least 3 of those things.)

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The author coming down from the Squamish Chief

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Lynn Canyon

Food. 

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Fresh (very fresh) seafood at Superstore

Food.

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Cantonese Food at the Admiralty Center in Richmond

Food.

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Nepali food on Davie Street

It’s just beautiful, a lot of the time.

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Sunset Beach in July

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Waiting for the fireworks in Kits

 

** I have had many adventures, and hope to have many more. Living abroad is an amazing experience, but you will only ever have one real home. It might be a place that you’ve chosen, or a place that wasn’t chosen for you. I just hope that when you do find your home, you fight for it.

Who am I, anyway?

The Liberal Agenda:

Since moving back to Vancouver, I’ve gotten involved in a few things.

I started volunteering with a non-partisan, pro – environment, pro – democracy group that is working to ensure that BC’s coast is protected from pipeline expansion. They do other things too, but most of what I do, is spend one weeknight per week with my team, entering the signatures of people that have signed a petition (the signatures would be used should the provincial government move forward with pipeline expansion – so that we could submit the signatures and we would be able, as a province, to vote on the issue). There are better ways to explain it – but this is the most straightforward way I personally can.

While the organization is non-partisan, most of the volunteers are not. At meetings we can all congratulate each other for hating the Conservative party, and wanting to Stop Harper. And buying ethical coffee, and wearing ethical clothes, and riding our bikes or taking transit to meetings, and not being into consumerist garbage (well – unless it’s ethical)

That’s me.

In the summer I’m going to ride my bicycle to Wreck Beach, and hike in the mountains, and love up on the planet, and feel really good about myself and my alternative life style choices. Really stick it to the man, my friends and I, with our acceptance and respect of people’s life choices and tolerance of difference.

This is  my life on the Vancouver side of the Cambie bridge.

The Conservative Agenda:

But, everyday I jump on the train and commute to my school in Richmond (with a very large Chinese community, and a very different point of view in general).

For Chinese New Year, one of the teachers organised for our students to get to meet Stephen Harper. He volunteers with the Conservative party in Richmond. The students loved it. Many of them would never and had never volunteered for anything. They got blue t-shirts. They did something outside in the community. They stopped looking at a screen for several minutes. They now know who the Prime Minister is, and the Conservative party.

I didn’t go.

I was invited. But I didn’t go.

I joked “blue isn’t my colour”.

I went to a clothing swap at a friends house (which was opened by a group meditation) and then out to go bowling with some international friends downtown.

In short, I did exactly what I do when I live in Vancouver. Hippy dippy, granola, international, hipster, ironic stuff.

Does that make me a better liberal thinker? That I looked at my instagram feed and thought “That’s my worst nightmare” Looking at all of my beaming students in Conservative t-shirts?

A tutoring student is discussing the car they want to purchase for their graduation. The budget is $50,000 (ish). I sat and listened and told him to give me $10,000 and I’d find him a decent car. That he should spend the rest on a trip or equivalent. How far could you go on $40,000? A long, long way for a long, long time.

My teacher friend:  Well, that’s really putting your values onto someone else, isn’t it?

Am I a better liberal thinker, or a better person in general, for assuming that money should be prioritised for airplane tickets and adventures? Bearing in mind the ecological damage I would do with the number of flights I would take, would surpass whatever that car would do over its lifetime.

Would the money I spend abroad help more people than it would buying a luxury car?

(We aren’t talking about someone suggesting charity instead of a nice car. We are talking about someone suggesting travel over a nice car.)

Because the life lesson I’ve learned/been taught/that’s been reinforced through most of my relationships with anyone I relate to – is that travel is the best things for everyone, always.

What I’m starting to think now is – there is, and there should be, room.

We aren’t talking to each other.

Climate change, social change, government change.

Whatever your political bent – we aren’t talking or listening to people outside of our bubbles.

And we aren’t going to get anywhere if we keep it up.

And I don’t know who I am.

And that might be ok.

Everyone gets yuppie pizza today.

 

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Rainbow over Yaletown.

 

Today was the first real rainy day since I’ve been back…

I’m writing this post after some drinks / a pizza in Yaletown. So obviously, I’m loving the rain today.

It is very easy to slide into old favourite habits and routines. Especially post work beverages. Especially when it’s raining. It’s like putting on a comfy sweater. A comfy waterproof sweater (for your brain).

After catching up with a friend I went to buy a bus pass from 7 – 11. The counter lady joked that I was teasing her with pizza. I told her it was cold pizza, but that she could have some. “It’s from the Yaletown Brewpub” … “I’ve never had that before” … “Go for it!” (She did.)

Everyone gets yuppie pizza today.

Then she gave me some advice re: buying the monthly bus pass or faresavers. We can write off the bus pass, but you can’t write off faresavers. And you never know when you’ll want to take the bus.

Sold.

Damp pizza box. Waiting for a bus. Phone calls from friends, “well, I’m going to yoga, but after maybe we can go for a walk”. These people love the outdoors.

I guess I’m one of these people.

I bought rain boots today.

I don’t think I’m going anywhere for awhile.

Also – it’s poncho and cape season.

XO, Vancouver

Ponchos and capes

 

Home (?)

Solutions work a lot faster when you come home, because of family and friends.

So, 10 days later, I’m relatively sorted with a place to stay, but now I’m bored.

I have enough of a savings buffer that I can eat and take care of essentials (but not so much that I can fill up my free time with shopping, or going on extravagant trips or to music festivals).

I have places to stay (thank you friends!).

I could even work full time apparently (but that’s not the point right now).

I spent my employment wishing for this free time, and will spend my unemployment trying to deal with an excess of free time.

This is a conundrum buddhists deal with by trying to focus on the present moment. I’m trying to focus on all the food I’ve missed in my absence, and can now eat:

T & T Dragon roll and Jasmine tea (with coconut)