Yesterday, I had a job interview for a special library position I really want. My typical job interview prep includes visiting their website and conducting an internet search for annual reports etc. that might not be included on the company’s webpages. Because this particular position involved knowledge of city planning in the Lower Mainland, my preliminary research for the job led me to a book titled City Making in Paradise. I intended on reading just Chapter Four, the one directly related to the organization with which I had the interview. But then I began reading Chapter One and just kept going. Who knew city planning could be such a riveting topic?
One day last September, I became frustrated with the project I was working on. It was sunny out, and I didn’t really want to be sitting inside in front of the computer. What’s the point of being a freelance writer if you can’t play hooky every now and then. I grabbed my camera and off I went. I was actually looking for Railtown – I did indeed find it but when I got the pics back home and Googled for some info to include in a blog post, I discovered I had walked right through Railtown, into Strathcona. For some reason I no longer remember, I never wrote about my Strathcona neighbourhood adventures.
The second chapter of City Making in Paradise discusses how the neighbourhood community of Strathcona was part of a three-phase demolition plan to make way for an elevated six-lane freeway. Concerned community members, city planners and politicians managed to save the remainder of the heritage homes (about half of Strathcona’s houses had been already bulldozed). But reading about how Strathcona had been saved, reminded me that I had been there. Snapped pictures. Enjoyed walking around and then sitting in MacLean Park before heading home. It seemed inconceivable to me that this charming neighbourhood and the adjacent Chinatown (as we know it today) wouldn’t exist without some wise rethinking.
I felt the interview went well. Whether or not I actually land the job, I will never look at Vancouver quite in the same way again. And I intend on becoming more aware of the issues and decisions regarding the city where I live.