Living on the West Coast in Vancouver, BC – Canada, you live either Downtown or the surrounding communities we call the suburbs. I was Downtown a few weeks back being a tourist in our own city and I was walking through the streets of Gastown http://www.gastown.org/ a tourist part of Vancouver, BC – Canada well recognized by it’s most hip and distinctive shopping and lifestyle neighborhoods with over 180 shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs. Gastown is the hub of creative talent, independent businesses, award winning bars and restaurants and fashion forward boutiques.
As I was walking the streets of Gastown I was approached by a homeless women who wanted to spark up a conversation with me. Rather then asking me for money as most of our homeless people do she complimented me on the jeans I was wearing… they were trending jeans with holes at the knees that I purchased from one of my favorite stores “Sirens” http://www.sirensfashion.com/en/home at the mall. As we engaged in our conversation. I was curious to find out how she ended up on the street and after a discussion with her. I felt a need to give her a little bit of $$ to help her get through her day. Her story was sad but real and it was a reminder from there that I realized that our streets are full of homeless individuals ….”Current Vancouver Stats” – http://www.straight.com/article-697061/vancouver/street-homeless-152-year-vancouver-count-shows.
A little further down the street I decided to take a seat outside one of our trending out-door Cafe’s across from the street from Gastown’s Steam Clock…. I was again approached by either a homeless or street person. This fellow flat out asked me for money. He asked for a few dollars and when I asked what he wanted it for, he said for some food. This didn’t sit right with me and to be honest I didn’t believe the story – I also had a terrible gut feeling there was something bad about to go wrong. When I looked at him he was avoiding eye contact with me and instead he was looking at my expensive camera and smart phone that was on the table. With that I immediately put my camera around my neck and picked up my phone and held it in my hand.
Should we feel nervous in our city? should I feel that I give to others but have a feeling that maybe they will take from me? I have had many encounters with our homeless & street people in Vancouver and the Suburbs and we want to help them but we also want to ensure safety on our streets. My advice is be aware of your surroundings at all times. Be friendly to people – but also hang on to your items. Walk with purpose and smile to others. If you engage in conversation, go with your gut. Our streets are safe but unfortunately we do hear of some sad stories. Lets make our communities safe for the locals and our tourists. Here is a couple of quick links I found about “Street Smarts”:
Be Safe and Enjoy the Community.