August 5, 2007

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.

Mr. Rogers was a pretty happy-go-lucky guy that truly made kids feel like their community is like their home. Everyone was welcome in everybody else's back yard and smiles and fun was shared all around. Perhaps kids didn't quite understand that this was what was going on at the ripe old age of 4-8 but nevertheless, through his actions and well-natured spirit, Mr. Rogers really did give kids a positive impression of what a suburbian life might be like. Hopefully, this would instill in the minds of the kids in years down the road of how civilized neigbhorly people could get along.

Then we grow up.

Living in Millwoods has done well by me: sure I have friends and acquaintences that I am jelous of from all of their worldly experience and opportunities for living different lives. But in the end, I think that this little corner in the south east of Edmonton has provided me with stability, love, a sense of community, integration and acceptance. Sure, I know a lot of the down-to-earthed-ness of an individual is likely to do with how their raised by the parents, but right now I am talking about the effect that communities have on the way that an individual perceives his life, surroundings, and the rest of the world.

Growing up in Millwoods I would often walk Lacey to the store for things like chocolate bars, slurpees, milk, and newspapers. There was never any fear of getting abducted or mugged. Neighbors new eachothers names and gave eachother christmas cards (and even if they didn't celebrate Christmas - Happy Holidays!). I would shovel more than just my own sidewalk on occasion, not even for money. It was a very friendly happy neighborhood for a naiive child to grow up in.

Millwoods is a pretty colourful place, racially speaking. The acceptance of all of the non-white's was a pretty simple thing though. I mean, I was raised with them here. Being a whiteboy in a browntown wasn't that peculiar to me at all. Most of the east indian kids went to the public schools, but my neighbor, Abraham, was an awesome buddy to build forts with and get in trouble with when we weren't in school. And probably at least a third of my classmates every year K-12 were Philipino, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese...anything.

Then the stereotypes come.

One starts to realize that there are some people out there that think that they live better lives than their racially different neighbor.

The anger and hatred and closed-mindedness of whites towards non-whites since Canada was founded is just mind-boggling. Even within millwoods, the different classes of people will differentiate which burrough they will live in: The un-employed white trash mother of 4 in Lakewood's subsidized housing, the rich fatcat retired oilman tycoon that plays golf from his back yard up in Greenview, the family of 14 living under 1 roof with smells of curried pork streaming from the windows in Sakaw, the well dressed private Chinese family that always has their drapes closed in Kameyosek, the Meadowbrook white kids that are driving their daddy's hot rod to a highschool that is likely outside of Millwoods, The neverending Tagalog conversations that go on in the Millbourne Safeway... It's all there.

Living in a peaceful tranquility.


Not no mo' yo. We duh 'hood now. Driveby in Satoo, random latenight robbery in Ridgewood, rape at Millwoods Town Center bus terminal.


Better build a multi-million dollar new police station in the center of this ghetto.

Yet, within the past 6 months I have actually been required to have dealings with the Men In Blue myself. And no, I don't mean the bus drivers. Those pricks are another story altogether.

So what then? You see, my next door neighbor was a really terrific man raising 2 young boys by himself. He did this for 5 and a half years before the Metis Society that let him live their says that he is doing too well for him and his family, and must find another place to live.

Natives in Millwoods. Who woulda thunk it hey? Well half-native anyways. At any rate, so long Jeff. Though this is a Metis Society owned house, the woman who moved in is Native, not Metis. Fine by me. "SURE, I'll mow your lawn for 25 bucks!" I've done it once in 5 months. Her back yard is a jungle. Cause for calling the police? I think not.

But on one morning before work I hear a banging at my door. It was a 12 year old Metis boy nearly in tears. I find out that there are unsavoury individuals over next door, but I wasn't going in there! Before I had a chance to call the cops to help cool this...domestic dispute?...the 2 gentlemen were out the door. Later the same day our neighbor apologizes for the 5 am awakening.

So yes. The many sides of Millwoods eh? Tolerance, compassion, concern for others are all parameters that Mr. Rogers instilled on us kids watching him weekday mornings from 9 til 10. The cold hard real world out there though is certainly not Mr. Roger's ideal suburbia. Stay tuned if you want to know what possibly could have happened to give cause enough to call the cops, in this community I call my home.

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