Friday, April 29, 2011

It's all relative

*Reminder! Tomorrow, Saturday April 30th, 1 to 4pm, is the Community Clean-up in the West End. There are numerous starting points, the old Library (Ellice at Arlington) being one, see you there!*

So today I had occasion to spend a lot of time in one of Winnipeg's more marginalized neighbourhoods. But Winnipeg Girl, don't you live in a neighbourhood just like that? Good memory dear reader, why yes I do! However, I was in a neighbouring area and a few streets in that particular area made me feel an erroneous sense of superiority if even for a brief minute.

People are like that. In general we have ideas (right or wrong) in our heads as to what a particular neighbourhood is like and we make assumptions based on that. As I was on my very very long tour of said area I scolded myself for being a touch snobby, and I realized it's all relative. When I grew up in my extremely socially acceptable postal code and went to my sufficiently snobby high school I lived in the house that was the bane of the neighbour's existence. The grass didn't get mowed, the garbage cans didn't get taken in after garbage day, and at one point we had a goat in the backyard. No really, we did. For the record, I am adopted and am mortified to this day over the actions of my parents, but I digress.

Now, otherwise the house was in good repair, the eavestroughs were up and functional, the paint wasn't peeling and we didn't have any broken windows, nor did we run drugs out the back door (of course in the suburbs that would be tough without the back lanes), these are all pretty common things in my current area. I recently had a friend over from London, England - you know the place you are all PVRing to watch the nuptials of Kate and William (oh the Royal Wedding! How exciting! What an obvious attempt at tricking random googling folks into reading my blog!) and she was completely surprised that I live in the worst* part of town. Had I not informed her she would have thought I lived in a fairly average area. Why? Because dropped in London, my street would be pretty close to average. Some houses need repair, some look cute and tidy, garbage everywhere... If you've never been to London it's baffling how dirty it is - in EVERY part of town.

So now that I live in a not so great part of town (or so the media tells me), my perceptions have changed a bit. However, to a person from the suburbs the subtle differences between where I live and a "worse" part may not be so obvious. But Winnipeg Girl, what is with your hate-on for "the suburbs"?? Nothing really, but it's easier than singling out one particular neighbourhood, and hey, I know it'll take at least a 1/2 hour to get here if any of them want to come after me. Ba dum dum ching!

Now that being said, just because you live in a not so great place is not an excuse to treat it poorly, two wrongs don't make a right. I saw some absolutely great looking rooming houses today and they looked that way in part because the tenants chose to care. I also saw some very scary looking houses that were probably owner occupied.

So I will finally bring myself around to a genuine point of sorts. Yes, Winnipeg has some absolutely deplorable housing and people live in it, for any number of reasons. Maybe they came from a place that had no indoor plumbing and a housing stock that is even worse and that house you call a slum is an improvement. Maybe they were homeless. If you think about it, it's all relative.

*to be fair, I usually say I live in the medium worst part of the worst part of town, I don't deserve the street cred for living in the totally worst part of town.

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