The trials and tribulations of a new knitter...

What Vancouver Is Not

Few cities can match Vancouver's culture of fitness and commitment to healthy living, to be a smoker in Vancouver is to be as close to an outcast as one can be without actually being one. You will be met with sneers, people taking wide berths around you on the street, potential romantic interests turning up their nose at you, and should you succeed in getting invited to a public event, admitting you smoke just may cost you 5 minutes of lecturing.

Yet, for all Vancouver's fervor for fitness, the city produces a sparse few highly competitive athletes. Not zero, but too few, given its culture. Vancouver is not a breeding ground for top notch athletes. For Vancouverites, everything is a lifestyle, and to be taken in moderation, albeit seriously. The few aspiring professionals Vancouver produces are lauded by one and all, and held up as pinnacles of all that Vancouver stands for, but surely not a realistic example for the weekend warriors.

Vancouver most definitely considers itself a trendy city, and people allocate the necessary spending to stay up to date with fashion, this is clear as you walk down any street. Not only this, but underground street scene movements buck trends, creating the tension between commercial fashion and street fashion necessary for any city to call itself a fashion centre. Despite this, Vancouver is sorely lacking in leading fashion designers whose name you might have heard. Not that there aren't aspiring designers who show potential, but of those who make a name for themselves beyond Vancouver, the list is short, too short.

Vancouverites love their culture, they love experiencing new cultures, they're exceedingly open minded to new ideas and creative thinking. The concept that is, but when it comes to being creative, actually getting out of the box, again, Vancouverites fall short. Notable Vancouver artists are few, the city claims some impressive musicians as its own, but again, it's still a short, although impressive list. Bryan Adams and Sarah McLaughlin(actually from the east coast, though moved to Vancouver as a young adult), made it so big that nobody questions Vancouver's musical success, but it's been a long while since the city produced such a success, or even any real success. You could argue 9 inch nails, if you're into that kind of music.

The same goes for artists, painters, and writers. A few standouts, but again, the list is short considering Vancouver's reputation and culture as a city of arts and lifestyle, not to mention two million people. Ironically, Inuit art has found many fans in Europe and Asia, which consider it some of the world's oldest and most precious remnants of former civilizations. The Inuit people have been largely pushed aside by the Canadian government, shuffled off to reservations, or more recently, allotted their own land as a "gift." With their recognition by many nations as legitimate societies within the Canadian society, the government has a newfound respect and appreciation for them, as does the rest of the world.

Some things Vancouver does well, but yet are not widely considered part of its culture are media, particularly the alternative variety, driven by regular people, not large media outlets. Vancouverites have a healthy distrust for media, due to their environmental stance, which for many years was maligned by big business. This fits hand in glove with the tech scene, another foray which Vancouverites excel at, and which produces plenty of Vancouver blogs. Often, a Vancouver blogger is first and foremost a techie, capable of creating his own credible blog which he maintains and promotes all on his own. From there, a topic will be chosen, or most often, a general topic which leaves room for a wide variety of discussions.

Vancouverites love technology, and they're good at it too, so good that Vancouver is home to a number of world class technology companies and the birthplace of companies like EA studios and Hootsuite. Somehow though, this hasn't permeated the culture the way you might expect it to, which is very much lifestyle and balance driven. Perhaps that's why, since all work takes a back seat to lifestyle in Vancouver, the lifestyle city.

Canada phone cards
Michael Yates is a Vancouver blogger.

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