The Morning Edition was out doing another live taping in the city today, this time at a community centre in the North Central neighbourhood. Was I there? Of course. You ask ridiculous questions. Julia, Erin, and Becky came with me too.
I so wish I had a link to share with you so you could listen to the whole episode online - it was that good - but I don't think that's an option. So I'll just have to ramble on and on until your eyes roll back and your face falls onto your keyboard. Sorry.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Regina (which, according to my stats page, is most of you?), some context: North Central has kind of a bad rap, to put it lightly (in a critical Macleans article back in 2007, it was dubbed Canada's Worst Neighbourhood). I moved here around then, and when I applied for a job at a North Central business I was quickly informed that there were some places in the city I really shouldn't be. Even Wikipedia, which describes other Regina neighbourhoods as 'historic' and 'affluent' and 'fashionable', says only of North Central that it's 'an area of low-rent housing nowadays characterised by serious problems of crime, drug use and prostitution.'
And it is. I mean, there's no denying that. For the most part, a lot of people simply avoid that part of our city. Avoid going there, physically and mentally. Never mind that the district is literally right in the middle of the city and does make up a pretty large percentage of our population; it turns out, it's surprisingly easy to ignore 12,000 people.
But I went there this morning with my friends, and we watched Stefani Langenegger and the Morning Edition crew celebrate North Central. And it was so cool.
They celebrated the culture, the diversity, the improvement that has been happening, and, largely, the people who are working so hard to make it a better place.
I think it's an easy thing to look around and say, "There's a need here." These things are often glaringly obvious if your eyes are open. But it's harder, way harder, to say, "There's a need here, so I'm going to..."
We heard story after story this morning of people who did that. "There are hungry children, so I'm going to..." "There are women who just need to talk, so I'm going to..." "There are men...so I'm going to..." "There are people...so I'm going to..."
Because of those people, there is a lot of really amazing stuff going on in North Central right now.
Halfway through the morning I turned to Erin and said, "I didn't realize all this was happening over here."
And she said, "Me neither. And whose fault is that?" Not in a snarky way, just, "Whose fault is that?"
As the morning went on, more and more people came and the atmosphere got more and more festive. The buzz in the community centre finally grew so loud that we couldn't hear the broadcast anymore.
We talked about it the whole ride home in Julia's mini van. About North Central, but not just about North Central. We talked about how inspiring it was to listen to person after person who saw a need and then got to work trying to meet it. And about how we'd love to be those kinds of people too.
Shout out to Stefani and your crew for such an excellent morning, for the bannock and coffee, for making me think, and for celebrating a place that clearly doesn't get as much positive press as it deserves.