Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bumping Places

In his book, Neighbor Power, Jim Diers speaks of "bumping places", those spots in a community where people meet. We get a sense of our larger community by greeting familiar faces in these places. This reminds me of family identities and the importance of seasonal gatherings and traditions to solidify, in our family, who we are and gives us identity.

I've been on the prowl for Clareview's bumping places.

  • Londonderry Mall. We don't have our own, so we go there.
  • In the mall is the Library, which hosts programs for tots, childrens and teens, toastmasters, and english language learning.
  • Also in the mall is the Tae Kwon Do facility. A crowd of proud parents gather outside the large glass wall.
  • In the mall there's a gathering place with leather seating and television monitors. There's a police information station. There's young folks and old. Why aren't the children in school?
  • The "Town Centre", touted by a Clareview Outline Plan. This is where we have the Superstore, the big box stores, strip malls, and Wal-Mart. Where in this "Town Centre" can people gather? That plan is beginning to depress me. It speaks of large developers, and land cheap for building affordable housing. Our community has been planned for "basic" from the very beginning. Are we understood?
  • The Belvedere station. I see a gang of young black men hanging out by the washrooms and impressing each other with their toughness.
  • The Belevedere heated shelter, which has the bus driver's rest stop. No-one in the shelter looks at each other.
  • Our own strip mall has the Mac's store. There's a new book exchange store, "Never without a Book." Farther down is a popular dance studio, Dance Theme. This place is swarming with parents on Saturday morning.
  • The hockey parents, I imagine, gather around the Clareview arena and Homesteader community league outdoor rink.
  • There's usually several bargain hunters gathered around the second hand drop off in the Giant Tiger strip mall. This is a very busy strip.
  • All the Tim Horton's are busy. The now defunct Conversations cafe is closed for lack of business. Why? Does name recognition carry that much weight?
  • The Belmont town centre has vacancies. The McDonald's is undergoing renovations. I do know children from the local school swarm the facility at lunch hour. The dollar store is closed. It had dire warnings to the children on the consequences of shoplifting.
  • I'm told we have a community garden. I must go see it.
  • We host the one of the big indoor soccer fields for the city.

Reading what I've written and observed, it seems that the natural bumping places are Timmy's, Londonderry, and the Giant Tiger lot. Hockey parents rule. Bargain hunters rule. This is a young family community These locations weren't identified on the community plan. Do we build up the natural gathering places, seeking to understand their popularity, or do we build assets within the "Town Centre" that was planned for us?

P.S. How could I forget? Movies 12. I see young couples arm in arm strolling along the grassy curb through industrial Belvedere, groups of friends, families, and caregivers with their charges, all off to the movies. Bollywood is making an appearance, a nod to our growing Indian community.