I was tasked to put together 13 stories on neighbourhoods in Richmond for the Richmond News. This involved myself going to various distinct areas in the city and speaking to local residents about what makes their neighbourhood unique. I also took all the photos. It was a great project and I learned a lot about people and life in Richmond, even as a long-time resident.
For the most part people tend to enjoy living in Richmond. It’s a sleepy, private place to live.
I also found there were a lot of common issues from racial divides, the city’s rapidly changing landscape, neighbourly interactions eroding and people being reluctant to talk with one another (and myself for that matter!). Some of the aforementioned themes blended with one another. Also, because of this apparent erosion of the neighbourhood, I found people tend to congregate more around pubs, community centres and parks to interact these days.
One of the most difficult things was getting people to speak. Not only was I freelancing without official media credentials, I found people have a growing distrust of divulging any information – even the colour of the sky – if it involves taking their name.
I tried my best to represent Richmond proportionately along ethnicities. Many Chinese people either didn’t want to talk and/or didn’t understand my intentions due to language barriers so that was a difficult part of the project. But those who did talk provided great insight into the city and its neighbourhoods and I really appreciated their efforts.
Another problem was people’s general distrust of media and a weariness to divulge information about themselves, even in the most benign sense. Being a freelancer is a bit more challenging as I don’t have ID from a news company. That said, when I have had ID in the past I didn’t recall being confronted with so many people unwilling to talk about such simple things. I think the age of social media and digital information disclosure is taking its toll on people.
Another issue was companies and organizations that have ridiculous media relations policies, forcing employees to go through corporate headquarters if they’re asked by a reporter what colour the sky is.
Nevertheless, have a look:
Broadmoor – Leo the barber usually cuts my hair and I get my pizza from Bob and Rick Brammer at Tino’s. Naturally I had to talk to them about this neighbourhood.
No.5 Road – Chain Batth pretty much forced me to eat one of his centre’s delicious vegetarian meals when I visited him. At Thrangu Monastery I nearly became a Buddhist – there’s just such a peaceful way in which they welcome you and speak. I would have liked to get a comment from the Islamic Centre but was referred to their PR director by the Sheik and couldn’t find a convenient time to connect.
Blundell – I couldn’t visit the Rosewood Manor seniors facility during the interview process because I had a cold and a sinus infection so this is the only submitted photo used in the series.
Richmond Gardens – Speaking to the group of Filipinos was fun as I had visited the Philippines twice in the last two years. They’re easy people to get along with and chat to. I also capitalized ‘the’ in ‘the Philippines.’ As Don Taylor would say: “A lesson for all you young journalists.”
Fedoruk Road – No matter how hard you try to avoid it while reporting on communities you will always stumble upon a giant pumpkin.
East Cambie – I can’t say enough about Himalaya restaurant. Delicious, cheap, and simple. I couldn’t get a comment from anyone working at the community centre.
West Cambie – It was a pure coincidence that I knocked on the door of Sandy Chappel who made headlines last month with his sheep.
Bridgeport – Rose Worden was a delight to talk to. I actually had to end the conversation. She would have chatted for hours. Definitely a fresh of breath air after so many people refused to talk to me.
Thompson – It was hard to find anyone to talk to with all the gated homes. Terra Nova has a very cold, closed off feeling to it until you get to the dyke and see people out and about.
Seafair – I asked city archives for a photo of Seafair Arena but they didn’t have any. I also looked through my parent’s photos and asked friends, but no dice.
Brighouse – One of the easiest stories simply because there are so many people to speak to.
Steveston – Probably the most redundant story; Steveston has been covered so much by the two local papers as well as the city and other media around BC. I tried to keep it fresh and was a bit tongue in cheek with my lede. In fact, a lot of what the Steveston Barbers and I talked about was unpublishable, like a particular store that’s known to sell bad meat – something most people in Steveston know if they’ve lived there for a while.
Burkeville – Like Steveston, Burkeville’s been covered a lot so I focused on the new park, which is a big hit. The Japanese woman’s husband is a pilot so their children naturally love watching airplanes.