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Hyperlocal Q&A with Allison Sparling

Allison Sparling is one of 12 bloggers who'll be telling her neighbourhood's stories on Hyperlocal - Canada Writes' interactive story map, launching April 3rd. Allison lives in on the border of Halifax's North and West End.
Tell us about yourself. 
My name is Allison Sparling. I’m 22 years old and in my final year of Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University. I love my neighbourhood so much that when my boyfriend and I were looking for an apartment of our own we moved across the street! 

This is our third year in the area and we still find sections of streets we haven’t walked down. I like to make a game out of finding new areas, which is formally called psychogeography, but I can’t take myself seriously when I use the term. I’m the awkward kind of stubborn that polite people call spirited and where I live is the perfect place to connect me with political happenings, family-friendly streets, and grilled cheese sandwiches, all of which have important places in my life. 

Tell us about your neighbourhood.  
Our apartment is perched on the border of the North and the West End in Halifax, an area anchored by the Halifax Forum, a brick hockey rink and bingo hall that occasionally hosts cat shows. Our street doesn’t have enough beautiful street art and other flourishes to fit into the gentrifying North but isn’t traditional enough for the established West. 

I love the energy of my best-of-both worlds community. More and more restaurants and shops are popping up so real districts are emerging instead of just disjointed businesses. I’m changing from a student to a professional and my area keeps up with me; I’m never more than five minutes away from a grocery store, a basketball court, or a burger. 

More students are coming in and living in buildings that were once old pool halls. It feels as if my street is growing up and coming into its own. 

What are some of your favourite neighbourhood destinations? 
The smell of local foodie haven Brooklyn Warehouse wafts in my window every morning. From gourmet foie gras to the infamous burgers that spawned a little restaurant (Ace), Brooklyn Warehouse has brought downtown atmosphere into the neighbourhood. 

Although we have several basketball courts nearby, I like it when my boyfriend Luke shoots hoops at Ardmore Park because there’s a grassy area for me to do yoga and go running.
How is your neighbourhood changing? 
The North End is gentrifying in every sense of the word and it’s changing the West End in subtle ways as well. I think one of the best ways to determine what’s going on in a neighbourhood is by noticing the everyday things that people buy there. Recently, the grocery stores have started to stock many more South Asian foods, because there is a real demand for these products now. The stores also hold Student days and Senior days at the same time; three years ago I was one of three people under 60 in the store. Now sometimes I have to fight for the last tray of sushi. 

Allison Sparling is 22 years old and in her final year of Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University. She is passionate about women in politics and recently created a nonpartisan walk to connect women with local politicians. Sparling writes the popular blog Always Something and has been living on the border of Halifax's North and West End for three years.

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