“I lived in Berlin, and then I moved to Holland to study painting and I taught myself animation. I wrote all the schools in Canada because I liked Canadian animation and the fact that they have the National Film Board here. Emily Carr [University of Art + Design] in Vancouver said I could come and study for half a year as a guest student. When I came back to Canada [for the second time] to work on my film, I met Doug, and then me not wanting a relationship turned into us getting married.
We [moved] to Saint-Lazare, outside of Montreal, in the country because when the kids were small, they were always outside — running out of the house, onto the street. I’m not a person that discourages my kids from going outside, but the street we were living on was too busy. It was great when the kids were small. And then they got into their pre-teen years and I was driving everywhere. I hate driving, so I walk. We wanted to move to the city, and Doug’s parents are in Ottawa, so we moved [here]. We looked at this area and I liked it. I walked into this house and right away I said, “Yes, this is the one.” It just spoke to me.
I do love this neighborhood (Wellington West). I like that I know everybody on this street. It’s that comfort of community. [I work at] PranaShanti Yoga studio; [I’m part of] Hidden Harvest, the Ottawa International Animation Festival; I was teaching at the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre and I do the community share pickup for the Roots and Shoots Community Supported Agriculture Baskets [for this area]. I do know a lot of people in the neighbourhood through all these initiatives. The reason why I think I know so many people in the neighbourhood is because I don’t take the car. I walk everywhere.
I hate the infills! People don’t need that much space. The trend is [moving] towards small spaces. We’re minimizing the whole house and giving everything away because you don’t need that much stuff. So why do people still build big houses? Because if you have a big house, you fill it. I find that very wasteful. And to tear it down and build new — it’s all going to the landfill. I [also] want to block off the end of the street [to keep] the through traffic speeds down. [That way] the kids can play outside.
A dead-end street, small house, no plastics and a little community garden where everyone can come and pick, and I’ll sit outside and chat with everyone, and we have community parties: that’s the ideal. I think it’s important that people are outside talking. [Let’s] make it a neighbourhood again.”
Story and photo collected by Hollie Grace James.