(In French le coin means the neighbourhood, or the friendly and shortened the hood. In the context of Mount Pleasant and what's happening here, I couldn't think of a more apt play on words - especially since today is the St Jean, a big celebratory holiday in Quebec, where I lived in French for many years.)
I live in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver. Technically, I'm on the eastern-most edge of the neighbourhood--an important distinction when talking about place in real estate terms, something Vancouver is all sexed up about. This is an edge area, one that's developing, to use the same neutered vernacular laid over other places such as Fuzhou, Chittagong, Dar es Salaam, Logos, and even Kabul, though likely here the term flows with less bite and more verve than for those on the ground in those places. Ah, but not here.
The lived experience here is a mixed bag of ambivalence and profit, all depending on which bag you hold onto.
Like everywhere and everything these days it seems, the Mount Pleasant that matters - ie: the one that counts, literally - is a consensus in the throes of unharnessed transformation, giddy about the promise of change like that offered by plastic surgery, smoothing the surface and sucking out the substance.
So, here's a bit of what I notice as I peddle myself around the hood. And by peddle, I mean spinning the wheels of my bike with the muscles in my body.
I live here and so do a whole bunch of other people ...
... people who make it the place that it is - unique, non-corporate, fun - for all of us living here ...
... not the place that some see as a place to rip apart and to sell ...
I'm excited. No, I'm ecstatic.
I'm in Montreal this summer, where another of my most favourite public art pieces is out again.
21 Balançoires (<-totally click on that), by Montreal-based design house Daily tous les jours, is an interactive musical installation that plays best when people join to play on it together. It's a sensorial wonder, evoking memories, connections, and tenderness where words don't reach - oh, it also makes music.
I missed it last time I was in la belle ville, but it's annual spring appearance is being carried over into the summer this year I hear (<- click to listen to the April 29 show at 8:29 minute mark).
This is place-making at its most breathtaking. I can't wait.
I'm a life-long swinger*. I swing when I'm happy. I swing when I'm sad. In the summer, I swing almost every day, and sometimes late on a warm night too. I never tire of it, and am constantly surprised at how much joy I experience gliding back and forth through the air, flying and diving at the same time.
Can't wait to share this. À bientôt les 21 balançoires! Here's a little snippet ...
* I mourn the loss of some of the older words - swinging, thongs, kangaroo jacket, for example - now needing to explain myself when I use them. I'm very attached to these words, or perhaps it's to the era when they were actively used, so innocently it now seems.
Maybe it's that loss of innocence, that gentler time, that I yearn for. When I ran around with thongs on my feet, sometimes stubbing my toe because the flimsy rubber sole folded under itself; the kangaroo jacket, that handy muff (another word) pocket in front where anything shoved in there could be readily accessed by either side, and a hood for warmth at night by the fire; and my beloved swinging, an activity whose word for it conveys the unfettered freedom and fun of this spectacular experience, now plunged into the murky underworld of fringier experiences that have laid claim to that once perfect word.