What is the EV lifestyle?
My year as East Village Resident Ambassador is over! The end of a busy, beautiful, life-altering year is, naturally, kind of a bummer. But mostly I’m overcome with gratitude for everything I got to experience in East Village and excitement about what the future holds for this neighbourhood.
As I’ve looked back at the past year I’ve tried to distill my time as an East Villager. What does “East Village living” even mean? From my perspective, it can be summed up with three major themes:
- Urban Nature
- EV's place in our city
- Epitomizing the Calgary mindset
Bow River and chill, anyone? Anyone who lives near a river, lake or ocean can tell you the peace that proximity brings. I highly recommend eating lunch on the shore of the Bow in East Village and watching the water and wildlife (and maybe not your phone) for a few minutes. Being able to stroll to St. Patrick’s Island is like having an expertly designed backyard when you’re a condo-dweller: BBQ, read in the sunshine, let the kids play, meet up with friends, or get active. And then there are the perks that even a backyard can’t match: putting your toes in the river, stumbling upon a beaver, going fishing, seeing hundreds of trees change with the seasons. There aren’t many places in the world where you can be this close to the conveniences of a major downtown and still enjoy the calmness of nature.
EV's Place in Our City
People who meet East Village for the first time in 2016 might find it hard to believe this was a neighbourhood that was swept under the rug for much of the last century. Its stellar location within Calgary is intrinsic to the East Village lifestyle. A lot of polishing had to happen in a lot of places to make East Village the gem it is today. For example, the neighbourhood wasn’t always so easily accessible. Before the RiverWalk was made-over and St. Patrick’s Island redesigned and the 4th Street Underpass tunneled, it was hard to get here (if you had a reason to) and getting here wasn’t much fun. Today, getting to and from other nearby neighbourhoods is a breeze on foot, by bike and on public transit. For drivers, connecting to thoroughfares such as Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail is no headache. If you’re like me, you’d quickly become obsessed with bicycling as often as possible while living here. Not needing to rely on a car will save you tonnes of stress and some money too. I love that in less than 15 minutes on my bike, I can get to so many diverse neighbourhoods, hundreds of restaurants, countless shops and I don’t even know how many theatres and galleries. East Villagers today are wonderfully spoiled to get to live here at a time when so much awesome is happening in and around the neighbourhood.
To me, the potential of East Village is for it to represent so many of the best things in Calgary. It’s an emerging cultural hub, with a world-class music museum and performance venue in St. Patrick’s Island, nationally recognized food being served at charbar, a library of the future that’s already won awards (for its architecture), not to mention the enduring Fort Calgary, plus public art installations, lovingly restored heritage buildings that are accessible to the public, live music performances, and festival space. Could you ask for a better springboard into the future? And all in a neighbourhood that was largely characterized by empty lots less than a decade ago.
I think that people who are drawn to East Village, whether to live, to hangout, or to open a business, understand the appeal of being able to feel the pulse of our city. In East Village, people want to be around other humans and experience the world, and the many goings-on—cultural, fitness, retail—that find their home in East Village’s public spaces. Sure, sometimes East Village is just the place where you get a really good scone and a hot cup of coffee because it’s on the way to the C-Train. I think that’s pretty great too.
Now that I’m moving out of East Village, I plan to keep in mind what I’ve learned about EV living. That it’s worth it to take the extra time to bike to the grocery store. That being close to neighbours is a good thing. That supporting community events is rewarding. To current and incoming East Villagers, I say soak up all this place has to offer, and try not to make the rest of the city too jealous.