Strathcona was the first place I have lived in which I immediately felt part of the community.
By Jason Allen
Published April 18, 2011
So it's official. We have sold our home in Strathcona and bought a new one, exactly 8 blocks south in Kirkendall. I have to admit as we pack, and visit lawyers and mortgage brokers, and make preparation for the big day, I'm a little wistful for what I'll be leaving behind.
Strathcona was the first place I have lived since I moved away from Alberta, possibly the first place I have lived since I moved out of my parents' house, in which I immediately felt part of the community.
It may have helped that we moved in Halloween night and were at our door handing out candy surrounded by boxes, but people on our street were instantly warm and welcoming.
I soon joined the Strathcona Community Association, and voila! Instant rabble rousing, community activist peer group. I met Jen and Dawn, who largely between the two of them standing out at the corner of King and Dundurn every morning for days, managed to unseat the chamber of commerce and the trucking industry, and have our stretch of Dundurn taken off the truck route.
I barbequed hot dogs for the SCC's annual park day (and still have random kids approaching me years later to say, 'Hey, you're the hot dog guy!), and helped with park cleanups, which helped teach my oldest son the importance of giving back to your community.
We're moving, though, because our son's school is in Kirkendall and we want to ensure our younger son will be in the English catchment area.
To be fair, our new house will be near the Hill Street Garden, most of the tenants of which we already know well, so we will be stepping into an instant community and peer group when we move.
But we will be leaving behind some precious things.
I'll miss the most amazing park in all of Hamilton (Victoria Park) with its newly minted butterfly gardens and ever-present Supies in the summer.
I'll miss the incredible socioeconomic (if not actually ethnic) diversity of Strathcona. For all the wonderful things you can say about Kirkendall, you have to admit, it's fairly homogeneous. But in Strathcona when I had the privilege of MCing the Movie in the Park night, when I looked out, there were people there from an enormous variety of backgrounds, occupations, and economic strata.
It was a wonderful feeling, and I hope I don't ever lose sight of the value of that diversity.
I'll miss Cathy and her seeing-eye dog Gordon burning up the shoe leather all around the neighbourhood helping others, and making the community stronger.
I'll miss Rolly Rockets, which I never thought I'd hear myself say. I had quite a few reservations when they moved in, but they are friendly, offer great food, and are amazing corporate citizens. As long as I keep my back to the ubiquitous MMA matches on the screens, I'm good to stay for hours.
I'll miss the 'shrieking harpy' disciplining her children at the opposite end of the park at the top of her voice from her unshakable perch on the picnic table.
OK, I won't miss her that much, but that's part of being in community, you know? You take the good with the bad, and the 'people like you' and the 'people not-so-much like you', and you accept them anyway, cause it's what community is all about.
I'll miss walking seven doors to pick up my weekly CSA share from Backyard Harvest. I'll still be a member, but I'll have further to go.
At that point, it would probably be best to leave the last word to Russ from Backyard Harvest.
He was over at our annual New Year's Day Open House - which tends to be a bit of a collision course of all of our volunteer/work roles coming together at once - and I was struggling to introduce Russ in a way that would provide context.
I said something to the effect of: "This is Russ, and he has an amazing business just down the street, and he grows these insanely local organic veggies and has a CSA which we were part of last year..."
Russ kind of looked at me funny and said, "And we're also neighbours."
So yes, Russ, it's the neighbours I'll miss the most.
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