It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Montreal this Canadian Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving has got me thinking of everything I’m thankful for. In no particular order:
- My son. I have great kid. Smart, kind, fun to be with. I asked him what he’s thankful for. He said: a roof over his head, food on the table, his pet budgies.
- My friends and family are truly terrific. They’re all intelligent and interesting and compassionate and fun. Many of my friends are artists, work in service to others or help others on their own time. My parents and sisters and their families are community minded and give of themselves.
- OpenFile Montreal. I used to write for Hour until its news section was shut down. OpenFile is all about community powered news -members of the site suggest local stories that are assigned to journalists. It’s great to work on a story that you know piqued a reader’s curiosity. OpenFile has talented editors. I am learning a lot.
- Support from other writers. It’s been said gathering writers together is like herding cats. But writers do stick together. I’m part of a group that spent 15 years fighting for compensation for copyright infringement of freelance-authored work. There were trying times but we never gave up. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way.
- I live in NDG so this is biased. We have excellent cafes and restaurants but even better, our neighbourhood has a great sense of community. People care about the environment here. We have citizens trying to save the Empress Theatre; others fight for green space and against gentrification. We have small businesses and co-op stores supporting community events and organisations and giving back. We have independently run newspapers because we’re the sort of place where many people prefer to hold a newspaper in their hands than go online (or at least people want the option of being able to choose) to get their news, something people were forced to do when our local paper stopped publishing a print edition. We have groups working to ensure NDG’s most vulnerable citizens – low income seniors, families and immigrants have access to quality food, live in safer neighbourhoods and can afford to participate in community activities. Our public schools don’t discriminate based on income and everyone benefits. People will go out of their way for their neighbours. That was especially obvious during the 1998 Ice Storm.
- Montreal. This city is both grungy and beautiful. It’s not always easy to earn a great living here. But Montreal is affordable. There is always a lot going on here, especially in terms of arts and culture, and so much is free. We also have entrepreneurs creating cultural events (NDG examples include the CineClub at the Crowley Arts Centre, Slamtastic Storytelling at Shaika).
- Montreal’s impressive tech and startup communities. I left journalism to work as a community organizer for over two years. As I’ve transitioned back to journalism I’ve checked out other possibilities for work. I’ve attended Montreal Girl Geek meetings, a WordPress camp, a meetup group about the semantic web, a DrupalCamp and startup drinks gatherings. I also joined Hacks/Hackers Montreal. I’ve met some bright and kind people along the way.
- Public transit. People bitch about slow bus service and feeling squeezed into the bus as though they’re in a sardine can. Or they say buses are smelly and people don’t shower enough, the Nova buses lurch too much. Montrealers have no idea how great our public transit service is. Lately I’ve run into people who appear to pity me because I don’t have a car. I live in a densely populated neighbourhood with easy access to buses that take me to the metro. Why would I need a car? I like our buses and metro system. I like the camaraderie on buses especially. Die-hard drivers miss out on all sorts of experiences. For instance, meeting the bus driver on the 80 bus line who sings and gets passengers laughing and singing along with him. I like that people from all walks of life take public transit. There’s always something interesting happening in a neighbourhood, stuff you only notice if you’re walking to the metro or bus stop or bicycling or simply strolling about, not whizzing by in a car.
- My community garden plot. I applied in January and thought I’d be waiting years. Received a call at the beginning of June. I feel blessed.
- Living in a place where people speak at least two languages. I love that I get to speak French on a regular basis and that by living in Quebec I get to see the world through different lenses all the time. Here in Montreal there are many cultures and it’s easy to travel the world just by getting to know your neighbours.