Elevate the Everyday

We enjoyed a busy summer and are so thankful for our contributors in August. We hope they will continue to be a part of this blog as they added so much to it. Thank you Anita, Laura and Tommy.

We chose this week’s theme, Elevate The Everyday, in homage of the founder of Shutter Sisters, Tracey Clark. We thought it would be fitting as we will be joining Tracey and the other Shutter Sisters towards the end of this month to click away in Palm Springs at Camp Oasis!


Tamar Haytayan

September for me is usually a time of renewal, of new beginnings, of reinvention and of many possibilities. This is so true for me more than the start of any new year.

The corner of Charles and Commercial has a special place in my heart. It is where I turn right from Commercial to make my way home, several times a day. I could turn right on any other street but I choose this one. This decision elevates me, it is a place of familiarity and it is a place where I am most likely to stop and linger for a moment to admire the colours of the vibrant flower arrangements at The Flowerbox. Most of the time I end up taking a picture of ‘where I am standing’ amongst this beauty and yes, of course it goes on Instagram.

This ritual makes me appreciate life, makes me say thank you for being able to see, smell and sometimes gently touch the flowers.

Right next to The Flowerbox, another familiar and favourite place is Little Nest. The place where I frequented with my second child and acquired memories of relaxed coffees with friends who were with newborns too. It is a place where I would choose to go alone and have a coffee and something yummy if my time permitted.

So, in honour of elevating our everyday, this is what elevates me most days in this lovely nook in East Vancouver.

– Cherish Bryck

Our habitual, commonplace activities seem to fill in the cracks between the big moments, the highs, the milestones and special moments in life.  We need those daily rituals to remind us that life is full of the good, the bad and even sometimes the very mundane.  When I am able to turn my camera on the routine, ordinary events of my life, I elevate them to a new perspective – a new understanding.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less of a pain in the butt, or less tedious etc., but I get a chance to slow down, observe and even sometimes savour these passing moments.

Grocery shopping is not something I like to do, but well, it’s on the list of things I need to get done every week.  On the Westside, we are inundated with food stores and I usually like to support my local store owners in Kitsilano.  However, sometimes I just have to go into one of the big chain stores to pick us some necessities that aren’t available at the smaller outlets.  I loathe shopping at the big box stores.  I dislike the whole experience.  The other day I shifted my perspective (and mood) by narrowing in on the pattern of the shopping carts and enjoyed how the lovely September light was streaming in through the big windows.  This small gesture turned the unremarkable into the remarkable. Celebrating the everyday.

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship. Everyday life has become my prayer.”  Sarah Ban Breathnach




Vancouver, despite it’s beauty, is a grey city. Occasionally green or blue, but mostly covered in a cloudy grey. When the summer months come the colours pop out at us everywhere. We drink them in just like everything else drinks in the rain the rest of the year. Produce shopping in Hastings-Sunrise is sea of colour right now. The peppers at Donald’s Market swayed many. They stopped all three of my little daughters right in their tracks. So we ate them!
Guest Photographer, Laura Krutz
There is something about Granville Island on a weekday evening just before closing time.  It’s usual hubbub of activity and cars slows down a bit to allow for a nice stroll through the grounds.  Colour abounds there and really, there is no better market I have experienced myself with such a diverse number of things to do and see. Everything at the right pace in a great place.
Guest Photographer, Anita Lee


What is the idea of the festival?  To me, it’s about a group of people coming together to listen, play, watch, participate, and celebrate.  This weekend at the Khatsalano Music and Art Festival in Kitsilano (on West 4th between Burrard and Macdonald) these very things happened.  People listened to music, danced, ate, walked, supported local artists and businesses, enjoyed each other’s company and the sunshine!  These kids of summer were taking a break from it all and at that moment became the best representatives of their neighbourhood and their festival!

On Saturday July 21st, we celebrated the 24th Illuminares event at Trout Lake. This year’s theme was “Let Your Bright Light Shine!”. This fantastic event is put on by Public Dreams. It is a place where magic happens and community comes together. The young play to their hearts desire while parents, friends and neighbours gather to picnic around the lake and to visit the many illuminated installations.

Alas, we did not stay for the 9.45pm procession around the lake. Our kids were pretty ready for bed by 9.00. There was also a 10.15pm grand finale with a spectacular 30-person fire show by Radiant Heat.

What amazes me about the events that Public Dreams put on is the amount of work that goes into them. So many  people volunteer, gather and create to bring joy to our community and world. Our hats go off to these people. Thank you!

thanks again to Anita Lee this week for being my partner on the WestSide!

Skate Park

Nestled between the two downtown off ramps under the Cambie Street Bridge you will find an area I sometimes like to think of as a little utopia where people can peacefully coexist in harmony.  It’s Cooper’s Park and everything just works in that little space: families with young children can play in the playground; or, young dog families can play in the off-leash park just a few meters away; kids, adults (young and old) are able stroll and bike ride along the seawall; a group of people can shoot some hoops; courageous boot camp souls can be seen getting, well, their butts kicked into shape; all while these fearless skater types leap off benches and rails. Everyone accepts; everyone embraces; everyone respects the space and each other.  Yay, Vancouver!

This is Jake. He is 12. He and his friends often spend their afternoons (every afternoon!) at the Kensington Skate Park found on the east side of Knight Street between E. 33rd and E. 37th. The youngest in the group is an 8 year old boy named Ryley. I asked Jake how long it took him to learn to skate, ‘one day’ he said. I could easily be their mother and was so glad to see them spending their time doing something positive. When asked what they liked best about this particular skate park, ‘the bowl’ they responded unanimously. ‘What do you feel when you are in there?’ I asked. ‘Inner peace’ they responded. Wow!

We have a guest this week for the West part of EastSideWest. Thank you Anita Lee!

Canada Day

What is Canada Day without a parade?  This year it was cold and damp.  I don’t recall such a cold July 1st.  Nevertheless, we Canadians are a hearty bunch and a little rain didn’t stop people from heading out to celebrate our beautiful country’s birthday.  I threw on my plaid jacket, grabbed a cup of steaming Tim Horton’s and was ‘aboot ‘ ready to join in the festivities.

We just celebrated Canada Day on July 1. Most communities across Vancouver organised live entertainmnet, activities, parades, and fireworks. In East Vancouver some salsa dancing was on the menu.

Community Garden

 I am big fan of community gardens.  I love the shared culture that they cultivate, the obvious beauty created, the local food producing aspect and the juxtaposition they bring to urban centres.  This photo was taken at Cypress Community Garden in Kistilano.  It runs along the train tracks off West 6th Avenue in between Cypress Street and Burrard Street.  It’s a beautiful place to walk and enjoy the greenery.  This is the “Philosophy” of the garden as per their website:

To promote organic gardening methods.
To foster inter-generational cooperation and community initiatives.
To enhance the beauty of the neighbourhood through the creation of a vibrant urban green space.
To contribute to sustainability through urban food production

It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?

According to the City of Vancouver, there are 74 gardens with approximately 3260 garden plots total. And this number is increasing each year. A few years back, our tenants who subsequently became our friends, wanted to create a plot in our big front yard. We were happy for them to do it which surprised them as apparently landlords do not allow tenants to do that. It introduced me to gardening, and by no means can I call myself an avid gardener now, but I was grateful for the opportunity to learn a little about it. I saw the benefits it brought them and their 2 year old child at the time. Community gardening creates community, sustainability and freedom for people to eat fresh produce they have grown themselves. There is nothing better than having a salad with the tomatoes and lettuce you grew in your own garden, right? It is so sublime.

Fire Hall

The West End Fire hall is located at 1001 Nicola Street in the heart of one of Vancouver’s most quaint neighbourhoods.  The brick heritage building dates back to 1907.  The history and grandeur of this building make it stand out in our rather youthful (architecturally speaking) city.

I walked up to Fire Hall No 9 in the Grandview Woodland area and as soon as I rang the doorbell, I heard a 911 call coming in for the firemen. One of them poked his head through the door and said “sorry we just got a call”. In one split minute, they prepared and off they went sirens roaring and lights flashing. These are the same firemen who I see grocery shopping on The Drive, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings. They are always very friendly and without fail make the kids’ day by giving them a tattoo or a sticker. I often wonder how they spend their days always ready for the next call. They no doubt put their lives on the front line to save others, and that is so courageous. For me they are a part of my Vancouver and I am proud of them.


This is the view of the skyline from Kitsilano overlooking English Bay and downtown.  This is definitely one of my favourite parts of living on the Westisde.  The views of the water, city and mountains never get old.

The walk from Broadway and Commercial towards the mountains is one of my favourite walks. I always see a familiar face, a friend or am often tempted to buy some delicacies to enjoy later that evening. But most of all, when the sun is going down and the golden light is basking upon The Drive, I turn my head to my left and catch a glimpse of the buildings downtown, right there behind the trees, enveloped in the beautiful sunshine. Now that is definitely something that makes me stop and breathe and thank the stars that I live here, in Vancouver.


Despite my lack of bus cred (admittedly – it’s been a while), I’m well aware that this bus shuttles students and locals to the university all year long and is a main artery for the Westside.

I sometimes take the No 20 bus downtown. Without fail, there is always something colourful (at times good and other times bad) to keep one entertained the entire 20 minute journey. The No 20 will open your eyes to a part of Vancouver’s reality.