The Best Laid Plans..

Hello again! 2017 has officially arrived. We are entering into a wild reality where Donald Trump is president and Kim Kardashian no longer tweets. Not too many people would have believed that a year ago.  And that is why peering into the fuzzy future of a new year is kind of scary. Is it going to be good? Is it going to be bad? For the love of all that is holy, please let it be good. For me, the start of  the new year is a mixture of dread and relief. January is one of the most grueling months. It’s long, cold, and the end of winter is not yet in sight. We have to say goodbye to the holiday season and the sadly all the festive lights. Christmas lights brighten up the streets and make dark winter nights a little brighter. I wish they stayed up all season long. The nice thing about a new trip around the sun is being able to say sayonara to the previous year and the parts of me that I would like to leave behind. The potential is within our grasp.

In between reading top 100 lists and stuffing my face with Lindt chocolates, I’ve been thinking about what direction I’d like to steer my ship in. In general, my goal is make more of a conscious effort in my daily life. I’ve always been a Type B personality, so I’ve never tried as hard as I could. I have an easy time floating along. I’ve made some specific goals to counteract this, like being active every day in some capacity (today we went skiing!) and doing some form of writing each day.  In 2016, I started doing this blog, mainly as a writing exercise and to keep me on a topic. Ultimately it also helped me think about my daily life more. What do we as a community have in common? What are our shared goal and struggles? It makes daily life a lot more engaging. My specific 2017 Big Goal is to have a piece of my writing published in some capacity, hopefully in a local magazine or publication.

The problem with the best laid plans is that they often go awry. The City was sitting in a nice position heading into the end of 2016 with money in the bank leftover from the snow clearing budget. Unfortunately, we had those two big blizzards that ended up wiping the surplus out. And so the budget for 2017 is going to have to be re-calibrated because they had taken the surplus into account. Unfortunately sometimes that’s how it goes. When I fall off the wagon, it can be a positive thing to be a Type B because I don’t beat myself up about it. It’s inevitable that some days are going to be too busy, challenging or all-around disastrous and I’ll lay defeated, on the couch, binge-watching Gilmore Girls for 5 hours. My goal is to not let those days derail me completely. If I can manage a walk down the street or write a single sentence, then I’m still moving forward. So cheers to 2017, onwards and upwards!

 

The Why

The last few Christmases I’ve been approaching the holiday with a theme in mind which streamlines my search process. This year my theme has been books. Nearly everyone on my list will be receiving a book of some kind. During one of my many trips to the bookstore, I was flipping through a cooking/lifestyle hybrid (one of the many variations of Goop) where the author was encouraging the reader to treat suppertime as a ritual. It sounded so great when I was reading it, like cooking would be this warm and relaxing activity to look forward to at the end of every day. Unfortunately during the weekdays, by the time I get home, knock all the snow off my boots, and let my glasses defog, I’m relieved to be home and exceptionally unmotivated. When I am preparing food, it doesn’t feel soothing and affirming. Instead my back hurts and my eyes burn from chopping an onion while I use as little dishes possible to minimize cleanup.  I always thought of it more as the weekday routine which is a very different perspective. After thinking about it some more, I think it comes down to mindfulness. While preparing a meal, if you consider the ingredients, the method, and ultimately the reason you’re making yourself food, it gives the task a greater purpose. When we actually take the time to think that we are nourishing ourselves, it takes on a greater purpose. And it is important. At this time of year, we aren’t getting much sun, it’s cold, and the holiday season can be emotionally difficult for some people. It’s at these times it becomes so important to actively take part in self-care and that includes diet. It really is surprising how a change of perspective can impact your approach to daily things.

Once I started thinking about rituals, I started thinking about how important they are during the holidays. Before Christmas, I watch the same three movies. I decorate a real tree, which this year, the cat knocked over. Another big one is that usually our family has a meatless Christmas Eve. On a community level, Winnipeg has a ton of holiday rituals. The Santa Claus Parade is what typically kicks the season off in Winnipeg. I’ve never actually attended, but I have gotten stuck in the resulting traffic more than once which is all part of the experience. The Nutcracker at the RWB is wonderful and  what makes it so special (to me) is how its set in a house on Wellington Crescent. The Canad Inns Winter Wonderland has a beautiful display. The nice thing about that one is that you can enjoy it from the car if it’s frigid out, which happens. This year I want to go for a drive through the Linden Woods neighbourhood because a co-worker told me that certain streets will create a theme and go all out in decorating their houses. And of course, everyone’s favorite: the first snowfall. Although not holiday-themed, the first snowfall is a classic Winnipeg ritual where everyone grumbles about everybody else forgetting how to drive in the snow. No matter what, it’s always a disaster. On the bright side, for office workers, it also ends up being a pretty relaxed workday because half the office doesn’t show up, and the other half shows up late and leaves early. Possibly not so much for health care workers (as people slip and hurt themselves) and the snow clearing crew. No matter what though, we all know what we’re in for.

No matter what your rituals are, it’s important to not just go through the motions. At this time of year especially, it’s important to stop and remember the why.

 

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve always been an indecisive person. Yesterday when I was leaving the house, I was trying to decide what shoes to wear, and I suggested a pair to Mike who made a non-committal comment. I was second-guessing myself when I realized what I was doing. Sometimes it makes sense to get a second opinion, like if you’re coordinating colours or a doctor says they need to amputate a limb. In this case however, I was deciding what shoes to wear to drive to my girlfriend’s house. Most people don’t decide, they just put on whatever shoes are handy and go. It can be frustrating on a daily basis when for example I get overwhelmed by menu options. It can be crippling when I freeze with uncertainty. I hate choosing when it impacts other people. If forced into making a decision, I need reassurances. If I walk into the restaurant first and have to choose the table, once we sit down, I’ll ask “Are you sure this is okay?” “Is there a draft?” “Do you wish we had chosen to sit by the window?” It’s irritating for me and for other people and can end up ruining my own enjoyment because I’m fretting the entire time.
Sometimes it seems like Winnipeg’s has a similar problem. We are the opposite of Star Trek, tentatively remaining where everyone has already been. We look to other cities, admiring their ideas and initiatives and agree that we should plan for the future. So we think about it. And think about it. And study it. And think about it some more. City council was debating light rail transit in the 1970s. Fifty years later, we continue to talk about how great it would be except that we (still) can’t afford it. Instead of accepting Bus Rapid Transit, City Hall orders study after study of rapid transit systems. Glen Murray commits to bus rapid transit, secures funding and then leaves office. This in turn allows Sam Katz to be elected and he scraps the plan. More studies are ordered. 8 years later, the first BRT corridor opens. Over 50 years worth of hemming and hawing and we have one BRT corridor to show for it. Of course in a political system, it’s not as easy as one person coming in and Making an executive decision. There are negotiations, compromises and trade-offs. These are big decisions with price tags and public opinion polls attached to them. The problem is that this is not unchartered territory. Rapid transit isn’t new. We have studies out the wazoo on this. Despite our best efforts, we’re slowly developing a BRT system.

The next controversial issue that we can look forward to agonizing over is reopening Portage and Main to pedestrians. When pedestrians were banned from the intersection in the 70s, a study concluded that Portage & Main was no longer viable to both pedestrians and cars. I wasn’t able to find detailed information, but I assume the study results were based on how the intersection was structured at the time, without taking into consideration alternative changes such scramble intersection. Ultimately, the city closed the intersection as part of a deal with a developer. An indoor pedestrian walkway was dreamt of as a way for Winnipeggers to be able to comfortably walk around downtown without worrying about losing a finger or a toe to frostbite. Apparently the original proposal was a pedestrian walkway above Portage and Main which is fun to imagine. The original proposal was rejected and the project became an underground walkway resembling a wheel. In exchange for the developer to build the underground structure, the city promised to keep the intersection closed for 50 years to ensure pedestrian traffic in the shops. This was a very expensive undertaking which is why the city committed to closing the intersection for so long. 37 years later, now that we take our underground walkway for granted; removing the barricades is our new dream. Things have changed. I’m not sure that in the 1970’s, the city thought our downtown would suffer so badly. They didn’t know we would be struggling to solve an urban sprawl problem. Maybe they thought transportation would have evolved into something completely new. Back to the Future 2 would be released ten years later and showcased hover boards in 2015. Anything was possible in the new millennium.

Of course, we’re all Winnipeggers at heart so while downtown changed, we haven’t. In 2015, City Hall commissioned a study to examine the issue. The results of the study should be presented to City Council sometime in 2017 so brace yourselves, this conversation is just getting started.

Slow Rise

When I was in university my sister recommended I take a course called History of European Art. It ended up being one of the most interesting classes I’ve had the privilege to attend. To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the details. I wouldn’t be able to provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of all of the art movements that we covered. But the interesting thing that stuck with me was seeing how art constantly evolved, reflecting anxieties and rejecting the mainstream mindset. As different styles of art become the status quo, artists push back against itself and begin again in a new direction. An accessible example of this is fashion. Once wide and full silhouettes become trendy, fashion forward designers go tailored and tapered. Prepare yourselves to come full circle and start wearing low-rise flared pants; coming soon to a store near you.  In general people are hardwired to want change. Not each individual necessarily, but as a species we are innovators. The status quo is our collective enemy.

This applies to many layers of our society. As technology has sped up, everything else became fast and disposable along with it. Fashion, food, communication; everything in our daily life became mass marketed and produced.  People stopped crafting and started consuming because it was easy and cost effective. Over time the push-back started. Buzzwords like handcraftedfarm-fresh, and artisanal wormed their way into our daily vocabulary. All of these descriptors evoke the opposite of instant. As hipsters have grown up, they have revived the art of taking time. The multiple independently owned coffee shops have minimalist decor and baristas that can tell you detailed information about the coffee they serve down to the flavour palate of the brew. Artisanal cocktail bars have popped up with an emphasis on mixology. Craft brewery pubs are taking over the city with their own microbrews. Everyone is starting to fall back in love with the process and not only the results.

Amongst all of these movements, Winnipeg has been getting some love from the world lately in the form of major publications promoting the city as a choice destination. Both Vogue and Elle Canada lay out a general travel itinerary for where to go, shop, eat and sleep when visiting Winnipeg. National Geographic named us on their Best Trips 2016 list. As residents, we puzzle over the fact that among all the destinations in the world, travel writers are promoting our little prairie city. Maybe some of the confusion stems from our isolated location. Winnipeg is not conveniently located unless you’re going up north to Churchill or maybe driving across the country. Nor do we have an iconic tourist attraction that we could compare to say the CN Tower or Mount Rushmore. Many of our tourist shots incorporate the Provencher Bridge which is beautiful, but it’s no Golden Gate. So if we’re not convenient and we’re not iconic, what exactly is the attraction?

 

My theory is that if you live in another city that is busy, loud, and fast, maybe Winnipeg is an antidote. A lot of what I took away from the articles was that our scene isn’t tired or played out. We have our a genuinely unique city vibe that is both unpretentious and organic. Our population can’t support the luxe clubs and excess lifestyle of bigger cities because big business hasn’t always invested in us. In that space, entrepreneurs invested in themselves. As a city, we haven’t been able to rely on anyone else so we have our own festivals to celebrate our artists and creators. As our events become bigger and more popular, they gain status. We are a community that is mostly self-reliant and now the outside world is finally discovering us. It’s been a slow rise which explains why we’re so surprised we made it. These articles and notices should serve as a reminder to appreciate our progress. We don’t have the big city appeal of Toronto or the natural beauty of Vancouver. We don’t have the cultural charm of Quebec City or the oil wealth of Calgary. Winnipeg built itself up and we should be proud to show off our beautiful prairie city to the world.

 

Get Up, Dress Up, and Show Up

Today I survived my annual bus stop cold weather initiation. It is a miserable, personal tradition that happens every year around this time. There’s one cold and windy (north wind, obvs) day  where I’m on time to catch a bus that is unfortunately early. Fuck. Okay, I’ll wait for the next bus. It’s rush hour so the next one should arrive in ten minutes. Totally not that long to wait. Twenty minutes later I’m freezing, warmed only by the fires of my growing impatience, still waiting because the next bus is late. I’m chilled and annoyed so I climb onto the first bus I see. An express. The bus meanders its way out of downtown, filling up with an ungodly amount of commuters. I’m squashing down any feelings of claustrophobia because there is no way I am getting off of this bus until it’s at my stop. Twenty minutes later, there’s a mass exodus of people streaming out the back door. My foot gets stepped on and someone smacks their backpack into my face. But I’m halfway home and all I have to do is wait a couple minutes for my transfer bus – except it came and went already. Leaving me with a 25 minute wait. Awesome. I spend these 25 minutes watching a series of slow buses drive by across the street, stubbornly refusing to get on one because at this point that would mean giving in. A student at the bus stop, also not dressed for the weather, asks me if I know when the U of M bus is coming. I check the app and pass along the bad news that her bus isn’t coming for twenty minutes either. She looks at me and says sadly “But I’m really cold.” As am I. I have lost feeling in most of my fingers and some of my toes. I’m not impatient or annoyed anymore – I’ve settled into acceptance. I may never be warm again. Finally the bus shows up and I sit down for a few minutes to warm up. I power-walk the 2 minutes from the bus stop to the house, unlocking the door without any sort of dexterity. The cat comes to say hi so I scoop him up to warm my hands. He doesn’t appreciate this.
The funny thing about my bus ordeal is that they are oddly invigorating. It’s a big shock to the system. Which I think I’ve needed. October doldrums have been hitting me hard this year. They sneak up on me every year around this time. It could be the cloudiness, the temperature dropping or the realization that winter will inevitably be upon us, but I have been struggling to get out of bed and to function in general. I try to figure out the cause – it’s probably that I’m too busy. I might need some me time and a long weekend to put me back to normal. Maybe it’s my diet. I’ll start taking a multivitamin and make sure I get more fruits and veggies in my diet. After a while though it becomes clear that I’m in a slump. And I think the problem is that I forget how to winter.
The problem with being in a slump is that it becomes so hard to push yourself out of it. It doesn’t help that both Mike and I have been sick. It’s tiring enough to get through the work day when you’re feeling ill, never mind trying to actively cheer yourself up.  Every time I go out of the house, it takes actual mental effort to do it. My inner monologue is a variation of: “Go, it will be fun. You LIKE this person. They’ll probably even cheer you up. Just put your pants on and go.” Eventually after procrastinating as long as possible, I drag myself from my warm, blanketed couch-fort and venture out. As I was looking for ways to motivate myself, I came across someone’s advice. Get up, dress up, and show up. So I’m going to keep it simple and keep saying that mantra to myself. And for the days that I don’t get out of the house, I’m back into knitting. I’ve already made a small blanket. My next project should be mittens – at least if I’m not leaving the house today, I can prepare myself for tomorrow.
If you feel like it, I’d love to hear how you’re doing at this time of year. You can reach me on Twitter, Instagram or leave a comment here. Stay warm, friends.

Shine On You Crazy Crab

Over the last couple of years I’ve spent many hours listening to various podcasts. One of my favorites is Call Your Girlfriend with Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. The podcast itself is well worth listening to, a mix of pop culture, current women’s issues and fun, but the reason I bring it up is because of something they call Shine Theory. The Shine Theory philosophy is ‘I don’t shine if you don’t shine.’ The basic premise is that for various reasons, women can be intimidated by other successful women. This intimidation stems from insecurity and fear, causing us to behave in less-than-nice ways to each other. We start thinking that the only way to win is to be the only woman in the room. What Friedman argues is that instead of giving into the urge to dislike or compete with other successful women, we should actively seek them out and befriend them. The more successful women we surround ourselves with, the more motivated we will be. I love this idea. My own girlfriends are a constant source of inspiration. Every time that I come away from hanging out with them, I feel energized and focused. I’m fortunate to have a lot of smart, funny, and successful women in my life. I do get those moments of insecurity when I compare myself to one of them. Sometimes I go so far as to wonder why exactly they’re spending time with me. The best way to shake these feelings off are to refocus on how happy I am for their successes. It’s much more fun to live vicariously through them as they celebrate their achievements.

What does all this have to do with Winnipeg? After reading about Shine Theory, I started thinking about the idea in general. This philosophy can apply at any level. How about locally? Winnipeggers have a crab in the bucket mentality. As in if I can’t have it, neither can you. There’s a kind of low level negativity that feeds off of mediocrity. This attitude is toxic and prevalent. It’s incredibly frustrating. Read any news comments section about The Museum of Human Rights, downtown revitalization, or any other positive local initiative. Workers who want more pay or benefits are told they should be satisfied with what they have. Businesses shouldn’t have any tax breaks because they might be too successful. Even on your daily commute, drivers try to prevent other cars from passing them. And to what end? This attitude doesn’t help anyone. Ultimately it hurts all of us. The more preoccupied we are with dragging other folks down, the less energy we save for making positive change. What we should be doing is recognizing that we all want to see our community work harder, do more and ultimately become better. No, you don’t have to support all things all of the time. If you don’t support a particular goal, then offer constructive criticism. Develop alternatives. Create options. Make your own mark. It is no one else’s job to make you happy and satisfied with your life or your community. That is up to you. If we get past the pettiness and insecurity, we can spend our time helping both ourselves and our city to shine brighter. The more that we support change-makers, the more positive the impact. As we inspire and support each other we can keep growing into a city to be proud of.

This is all well and great, but how can this be applied? After all we can’t all be Chipmans, Aspers, or Bulmans, leaving an obvious (and expensive) stamp on the city. We can start small though. One way to show support for local businesses is using the Local Frequency app. Whenever you make a purchase with cash or debit, the business can scan your app. 3% of your transaction will go towards your Local Points. The cash stays within our local economy while you save money. It’s free to download so there’s no additional cost to you. And while you’re at it, the list of businesses can also function as a road map to cool local places that you wouldn’t necessarily know about. Together we can fight the crab mentality. When someone signals to get in your lane, let them in. You’ll help them to get where they want to go.

Driven

One distinct difference between 2006 Winnipeg and 2016 Winnipeg is the number of cyclists on the road. In 2006 you would see one or two cyclists on your route. And they would piss you off just for being there. “Get a real car, loser.” was the general attitude. Most drivers had no concept of slowing down to pass a cyclist, let alone changing lanes to pass them. Critical Mass was a Big Thing every month generating endless news coverage followed by intensely negative reactions. Like any change or sign of progress, Winnipeg fought bitterly against accepting a new reality where cars might have to share with non-motorized vehicles. Back in 2006, 5 Critical Mass participants were actually arrested by the Winnipeg Police Service. How things have changed.

I myself do not bike. I hate biking. It’s just not a thing that I enjoy doing. Nonetheless I have to admire those that do. It takes an awful lot of commitment to pack up your gear every night, leave early, cycle in cold morning weather all while hoping that drivers will shoulder check before changing into your lane. Judging by the number of Winnipeg drivers that treat signal lights as optional, I personally wouldn’t have a lot of faith in the folks on the road. Since 2009 designated bike paths have started to make cycling to work a little less like Russian roulette. It seems like it has been a case of build it and they will come because there are a ton of cyclists. Mike and I have been hitting construction on our way to work so we’ve been trying out a few different routes. Every way we go there is actual bike traffic. It’s amazing.

See, as much as Winnipeg has developed as a car city, there is something that is so nice to see the presence of people, actual human people. It turns Winnipeg from aggravating gridlock into an interesting dynamic city. I get to see all the different types of people who are on their bikes. Much like having pedestrians, cycling humanizes the city. We are a social animal so when we see others walking and cycling, it naturally makes us want to be a part of it too. Dehumanizing cars are part of the reason that road rage is so common. We forget that it is a human being driving in their car. All you see is that they are in your way. We don’t see them as someone like ourselves that is tired, sick, sad, or who simply made a mistake. I think it’s great that Winnipeg has (reluctantly) accepted that we can be a cycling city too.

 

How About That Local Sports Team

This is that magical time of year where  sports seasons overlap. The Blue Bombers season is picking up. The Goldeyes are starting a playoff run. The Jets are back in just over a month. These teams have the ability to bring us together as a community. After weather, the biggest small talk starter has to be that local sports team. Our teams incorporate local historical and cultural elements. They want us to identify with them and be proud of what they represent. What this boils down to is that ultimately our teams are a reflection of ourselves.

We embed these teams as part of our identity. They allow us to connect with each other, unite behind a goal and give us a reason to get together. The actual experience of a live sports game is exciting. Having a stadium full of the energy and noise of thousands of other fans is an amazing energy. This energy needs to be fed. It needs momentum and it needs to be able to pull people in. Beyond that, you have to get them to buy in to the team to begin with.

So how do you get people to buy in?   While there are a lot of hardcore fans out there (one of my own family members has held season tickets for over 40 years), typically it takes a strong performance and/or the Banjo Bowl for the stadium to start selling out. Which it has. Today is the Banjo Bowl. Kickoff is at 3:00 pm. I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the action. I will be down there selling Bomber merch all game. It should be a great time. There is something so fun about a friendly rivalry. It takes the atmosphere up a notch. One of the reasons I’m glad our rivalry is with Saskatchewan is that they are great fans. A few years ago I was in Saskatoon and their transit buses were driving by with Go Riders on the Destination Sign. I asked a cashier what time the game was at and she said that the team wasn’t playing until the next day. Rider Nation is all in on their team. As much as I like to make fun of them, that kind of attitude is exactly what makes games fun. That enthusiasm and support is what brings us together in a positive way. And it’s true, Saskatchewan isn’t big enough or concentrated enough to be able to support (at this time) any team bigger than CFL. I think this makes them appreciate what they have instead of wishing for something better.

I’ve heard so many people trash the CFL because it’s not the NFL. Hate to break it to you, but we are not an NFL city. Also the football may be better, but the people sure as hell aren’t. I spent a good amount of time researching NFL teams last year, trying to find a single one that didn’t have problematic coaches or players. That league will sweep everything under the rug – domestic assault, murder, rapes. They can’t even get their own cheating under control. As a fan, I can’t get behind any of that. The CFL has created a comprehensive domestic violence policy. This year the CFL announced new player health and safety measures. Any cheating that has been reported in the CFL has ended up with fines (roster violations) or are relatively minor (allegedly watering the grass a little extra ahead of a game). I will take that over deflating footballs for a championship game. Winnipeg is not a moneyed city. Our population sits well below one million. We will never have an NFL team nor do I want one. We should take a page out of Saskatchewan’s book and go all in on our football. We didn’t build that stadium for nothing.

 

 

Fall First

Today I was looking through flyers trying to figure out what store had my favorite frozen pizza on sale when I saw it. A Halloween candy sale. I closed the flyer pretending it never happened. Unfortunately what has been seen cannot be unseen. Even though you know it’s coming, there is still the moment of denial  when it does. It can’t be that time of year again.

These last weeks are a drawn out traumatic affair. By mid-August, everyone sinks into poorly concealed desperation. You can hear underlying dread in casual comments about earlier sunsets and cooler nights. Secretly we wonder if living under a Trump presidency or Mexican drug lords might be a bit of a treat compared to winter. No other seasonal shift causes this much anguish. There are just so many things ending. Lake season winds down. Holidays are over. Patios get packed away. And  oh. Do you hear that? The honking, not of traffic, but of geese. Even the animals don’t stick around because they know what’s coming.

Fall is a nice in-between season that gets overlooked because of two unfortunate features; it’s short and it precludes winter. So much so, that the way some people talk about it as if summer turns directly into winter. Every time I mention the school year or early nights, someone is there to whisper “Winter is coming” in my ear. Let’s just hold off for a minute. Summer isn’t technically over until September 22nd. And the daytime won’t be shorter than the nighttime until after September 22nd. Even then, it starts off gradual. It’s not until Daylight Savings time ends that it really gets dark early. And that’s not until November 6th. We should train ourselves to look forward to Autumn because it’s a really lovely season. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they dislike it. People regularly hate spring (too messy), summer (too hot), and winter (too cold). Autumn is the best of all worlds. There are no bugs tormenting us. The temperature is perfect for walking and outdoor activities in general. We get stunning displays of colourful leaves. We finally have a chance to wear the nice ‘cold weather‘ clothes like booties, leather jackets and insulated vests instead of actual winter clothes. My favorite part of fall is actually wanting to cook again. Comfort foods like stews, soups, crisps, and pumpkin everything sounds so good. There is so much to enjoy so between now and November 6th, let’s put winter out of our minds. By the time that dreaded day rolls around, we might be so full of pumpkin spice that we won’t even mind.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Please like, comment or share if you enjoyed this week’s post. You can follow me on twitter  and on Instagram.  See you next week!

 

The Pokelure

Have you visited Assiniboine Park or The Forks lately? If you haven’t, you should. Wander through the Leo Mol garden in the evening or walk over the Esplanade Riel. The amount of people is shocking. On July 17th, Nintendo released the Pokemon Go app in Canada and it changed our environment. Kids, families, even seniors are all out searching for porygons and pikachus.

When I came back to Winnipeg from Europe a few years ago, I was struck by one thing; how few people were visible. Winnipeg isn’t comparable to European cities in terms of population or tourism, but it’s a city nonetheless. It was eerie going from consistently busy streets to walking down every road alone. Post-Pokemon, there are people everywhere. It makes me sad that I haven’t seen this before.  As a city, we regularly fail at tempting people to come out of their homes. Sure there are festivals, sports games and other special events but those tend to target a certain section of the population. Those same events often cost money and have crowd limitations which limits accessibility further, especially for families. There are some fun events put on regularly in the summer like Downtown Drive-In Movies or the Summer Entertainment Series at the Lyric Theatre. Those are great and from what I have seen, moderately popular. There isn’t any hype around them though. I have casually thought about going to an outdoor movie, but I think, why not just watch the movie at home? It’s easier. No pants or driving required. What Pokemon does is get people excited to go out.

It reminds me of when I first moved to the city. I would designate some days to be adventure days. I’d drive to a different part of town. I would check out a new business that I hadn’t been to before. Eventually though I stopped adventuring. I found favorite places and stopped leaving the neighbourhood. That’s really too bad because although I stopped adventuring, the city hasn’t stopped changing. It’s really inspiring to see people adventure around for the entire day. They bring backpacks and chargers for their phones. They frequent local businesses which in turn have seen an increase in foot traffic. Ultimately Pokemon Go has shown us that we can be lured out from our suburban homes. We can come together to experience the city we live in. Before the summer ends, I would like to spend a day in the city with my backpack, exploring all the new places that I haven’t seen yet. I hope that once the Pokemon Go craze dies down, that the players will continue to come out to explore their city. Or at least that they have found some new favorite places to enjoy.

I would love to hear about your recent Winnipeg adventures, Pokemon or otherwise. You can tweet me at @winnipegishere  tag me on Instagram @winnipegishere. Thanks for reading!