Vancouver through a newcomer’s eyes

Vancouver city staff members say they’ve been getting a kick out of the public’s responses on social media to the city’s query, “What makes Vancouver a vibrant city?”

During the first week of the city’s social media campaign leading up to Mayor Tim Leavitt’s annual State of the City address March 26, residents posted pictures to #vansoc on Twitter and Facebook of happy dogs, waterfront trails, cycling group, murals, neighborhood activities and people doing volunteer work.

As a newcomer to town, I’ve found it encouraging and uplifting to see these examples of local pride. (I’ve been covering Vancouver city government for a month now after working nearly 12 years at The Daily News in Longview, Wash.)

Here are a few things I’ve noticed on my strolls through downtown that make me think, “Oh, wow, that’s great.”

The strings of white lights wrapped around tree trunks. Flowerbeds planted with yellow and purple pansies. The colorful umbrella sculpture on a street corner. The ornate architecture of certain old buildings. The astounding variety of tempting-looking eateries and quirky coffee shops. The beautifully designed streetscape around Esther Short Park. The gorgeous City Hall lobby.

Then there’s the sheer wonder of the children’s section of the Vancouver Community Library. I saw it for the first time last week and thought, “Holy cow.” I wanted to run through the translucent teepees, play with the building blocks and tinker with all the imaginative, interactive displays. It made me want to borrow someone’s kid for an afternoon just so I could watch him or her experience it.

Altogether, I get the impression Vancouver is a special place that people have worked hard to make, take care of and continually strive to improve. It’s indeed a vibrant place, and I like it.

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