The Good Neighbour

I take my neighbourhood to mean about a 2 block radius – back, front, left and right.  Like a small square box that defines my part of the city.  These are my people.  My neighbours.  I feel at home as I round the corner past the Salvation Army Thrift shop, past the Gas Station, around the roundabout and then into ‘Kits Yard’ which is home.

Our street changed this last month.  Really changed.  The City of Vancouver striving forward with its plans to create a greener, friendlier landscape, blocked off the top and the bottom of our few blocks so that it is a true cycle-way. The street remains driveable but is harder to access from the two main arterial roads. It creates a quieter, more cyclist and pedestrian friendly zone. More exclusive.  The City has determined that the automobile is not really wanted here – or at least is a ‘second-class’ form of transport.

Our efforts to create safety and a clean environment can come at a communal price. You can’t smoke here. You can’t drive here. You can’t rent this space out. You can’t have pets here. You can’t park here. You can’t cross the street here. You can’t cycle here. You can’t drink alcohol here. You can’t sell anything here.  We are so used to rules.  Defining our behaviour.  Regulations.  In fact, we seem to be creating more and more rules – for the common good?

Our rather quick movement towards a knowledge led society rather than a values or morally led society make these changes something that everyone HAS to know – more that parents will teach their children.  “But why can’t we just knock that wall out and make a bigger play room, Dad?”

Pity those who don’t know. Those who have limited access to knowledge networks and information channels.  “Didn’t you know after this week you won’t be able to use a single ticket to get onto a train – you must have a Compass Card.” How will they find out especially those for whom English is a second language or just don’t connect with media services. 

In some ways education becomes more important now – or at least a basic level in order to learn the rules – and to keep up with the changes.

A neighbour can be someone who distributes information to those around. Not a know-it-all – but someone who connects with others and discusses what is going on around us.  We can’t lose touch with each other or many will be left out of the loop.