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Hyperlocal Q&A with Willow Yamauchi

Willow Yamauchi is one of 12 bloggers who'll be telling her neighbourhood's stories on Hyperlocal - Canada Writes' interactive story map, launching April 3rd. Willow lives in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a writer and raconteur from the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant in Vancouver. I live in a 114-year-old house with my musician husband, Ron, our fabulous teenagers, Sophie and Flynn, two fat Maine Coon cats and one tiny, shivering Chihuahua. We have lived in Mount Pleasant for 15 years. It was the only house in Vancouver we could afford when we moved in. It was close to downtown and had a nice yard for the kids. 

We failed to realize that its affordability was directly related to its location. At that time, Mount Pleasant was a crime hot spot with open drug sales and street level sex trade. Our first week there, I was greeted by a police officer in full assault gear hiding behind my fence. 

“Ma’am, get in the house and stay there,” he said calmly.  

And I did, for about ten years.   

Tell us about your neighbourhood. 
Mount Pleasant is almost like a little village within Vancouver. I live right on a bike lane that crosses from the east side to the west side. There’s a fantastic greasy spoon called the “Nice Cafe” about five blocks away with a Mexican omelette to die for. The new hipster/connoisseur coffee shop 49th Parallel is a stone’s throw away and makes a soy latte that will make you weep with joy. The local Neighborhood House is just around the corner and is a hive of organization and community events. We lack a legal off-leash dog park within walking distance but some of us MAY gather unofficially in a local park—I’m not saying where.

How is your neighbourhood changing?
You know how sometimes, if you hold onto an item of clothing long enough, it becomes cool again? That’s what happened to Mount Pleasant. After lying fallow for decades, the neighborhood has come to life.  Mount Pleasant is currently a flurry of community-run initiatives, activism, artists and neighbours, meeting and greeting each other for the first time. I may be living in the coolest ‘hood in all of Canada. 

Willow Yamauchi is a writer and raconteur based in the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant, in Vancouver, British Columbia.  She has lived there for 14 years with her husband, kids, and fierce guard chihuahua. She has no plans to move. Ever.

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