Hyperlocal Q&A with Andrew Robulack
Andrew Robulack is one of 12 bloggers who'll be telling his neighbourhood's stories on Canada Writes' new interactive story map Hyperlocal, launching April 3rd. Andrew lives in Porter Creek, White Horse.
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Tell us about yourself.
I live with my son Cole in the Whitehorse neighbourhood of Porter Creek in a brand new townhouse that's much too large for just the two of us—it's a 2400-foot monster with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a garage. But with a dirt-cheap rent of just $1450, it was a deal we just couldn't turn down. (As a point of comparison, the next step down on the cost scale would be a decrepit old one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment facing the Alaska Highway for $1200, while most larger family dwellings would rent for upwards of $2000.)
I'm self-employed and work at home. I'm primarily a consultant which, as far as I can tell, means I perform a varied assortment of professional tasks such that defy any specific identifiable categorization. My grandpa might have described me as a jack of all trades and master of none, I suppose, but that sounds much less impressive on a CV, so I go with the more concisely ambiguous "consultant."
Wrapped up in that catchword is my greatest professional pleasure, writing. For about 14 years I've written a bi-weekly column called "Geek Life" for the Yukon News. It used to be weekly, but like everywhere, newspaper readership is down and costs were cut. I've also written as a professional freelancer for the CBC and the Vancouver Sun. Of course, I also pen drab proposals, reports, and support documentation for the various projects I work on—yawn.
Tell us about your neighbourhood.
Porter Creek can seem like it's own little town. It has its own grocery store, hotel, pubs, convenience stores, theatre, gas stations, schools, and outdoor recreational facilities. That can be convenient, as you don't always have to go downtown for minor errands. But it also makes the neighbourhood feel far removed from Whitehorse proper. The 15 minute drive "into town" sometimes seems epic by northern standards and so travel back and forth quickly becomes tiresome.
I've lived here for about three years now, having emigrated from the formerly much more chic, central 'hood of Takhini North. At first I loathed living so far from what seemed like everything else in Whitehorse. Short jaunts—like the 5-minute walk to my son's school and the quick scoot down 2-Mile Hill to Superstore—became journeys. I felt like I'd moved to another planet, and in a way I had. Porter Creek is sleepier, and largely composed of a demographic much older than myself. But I slowly grew to love this area. Or perhaps it grew into something I more could love with tons of new condo development (hence, a younger milieu) and the establishment of a modern pub down the block from my house (previously the closest watering hole was a decrepit joint full of pickled old fogeys nicknamed the "Wax Museum").
What are some of your favourite neighbourhood destinations?
Most Fridays my son and I will walk or bike down the street to a strip mall convenience store called Heather's Haven. It's a crappy little joint that sells all manner of sundry good, everything from PCC (pop, chips and candy) to water pipes to slurpees to sexy-girl playing cards to gangsta-style hoodies. I'll pick up a six-pack or a bottle of wine for the weekend and Cole will usually get some ice cream. In the time we've lived here it's become a bit of a ritual and we've grown to love it.
More than a few times a week we'll stop in at the local grocery store, Super A, to pick up something we've run out of or forgot to buy downtown at Superstore. Super A isn't the sort of place you go to do your big, regular grocery shop, though. It's too expensive. It's more about the convenience of picking something up at a premium to save yourself a trip into town.
Finally, there's a lake hidden in the middle of Porter Creek, called Lost Lake. I lived two blocks from it for a year before I even knew it existed. No kidding. Now Cole and I, usually with his friends or cousins in tow, will do walk around it (or across it in winter) every couple of weeks.
How is your neighbourhood changing?
Like a lot of Whitehorse, Porter Creek is getting younger and more modern. New businesses that open seem to cater to a younger crowd, and the ugly condos that a local developer literally vomited onto the landscape last year are overflowing with young families and tattooed couples working hard at manufacturing offspring. The old folks and long-time Porter Creek residents love to openly grouse about the change. Culturally, the neighbourhood remains primarily white. There are a couple of First Nations enclaves within Porter Creek but by and large Porter Creek is a white neighbourhood. The main cultural influx seems to be a daily one, when Whitehorse's burgeoning Filipino community ships its kids to the local Catholic school.