Where I Live: Hastings-Sunrise

I have long contended that Hastings-Sunrise, as the area around the PNE in East Vancouver is officially known, is the best 'hood in town. And I'm not just saying that because I grew up here (yes, that's a photo of me in front of my old elementary school. And yes, the Smartie Pants from last, last summer are awesome for cycling in). But don't tell anyone! We can't have everybody moving here all at once.

Why is this 'hood so amazing, you ask? Well, for one, all my Italian and Chinese neighbours ensure we have the best selection of green grocers and Italian delis around. Fresh, local, and seasonal are key here. If you want housemade curried lamb sausages, Rio's Friendly Meats has got 'em (if they're not sold out. Actually, forget I told you about those!). If artisanal, free-range cured meats are in order, Moccia's Deli has been making their own for over forty years. If red meat isn't really your thing, I think we're one of a handful of Vancouver neighbourhoods that has its own fishmonger--fresh salmon? Done! Using "fishmonger" in a sentence? Awesome!

Glenda and I were recently at a Pecha Kucha presentation in Vancouver that centered on the idea of sustainability and a lot of discussion was focused on food security and urban gardening. While I found it inspiring to be part of such a large, young-ish crowd rooting for local food, I had to laugh a little. Apparently the cutting edge in sustainability is actually composed of all my elderly neighbours whose gardens I covet--the number of amazing "urban farms" people have going in their yards around here is totally nuts. I was once actually laughed at by an older gentleman in the checkout at Donald's Market for buying leeks. I also really love the photo on the right: the elderly couple who live in this place not only cultivate every inch of their front, back, and side yards, they had this sweet two-story coop built within about a nanosecond of the city announcing they were thinking about allowing people to keep chickens!

Food aside, Laughing Bean Coffee is the caffeinated, beating heart of the 'hood. A meeting spot for all sorts of people and groups, they host musical performers, recycling drives, food bank activities, and even the occasional City of Vancouver community planning event. According to my bigger half, Scott, they also make an excellent cappuccino.

To cap things off, I should probably mention that we have some of the finest parks in the city here--and for the most part, nobody knows about them. For instance, New Brighton Park is not only East Van waterfront scenery at its finest, but it's actually possible to get a good picnic spot there on holidays (wait, forget I told you that, too!). The restoration work done to date in Hastings Park is also quite mind-blowing. Now, not only do we have Playland, a refurbished Empire Stadium, a skate bowl, an elaborate Italian garden, and the track (which is actually a really fun way to spend a sunny afternoon with friends), we have a stunningly beautiful bird sanctuary--all in the middle of the city!

Hastings-Sunrise: Best 'Hood Ever. I rest my case.

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