I’m writing this in the library at Renfrew Park Community Centre, waiting while my son’s at a martial-arts class. Just walking in here, I got all choked up.
I guess most places in North America have these scattered around. Quite likely lots of other places round the world too, only I’ve never been to any because they’re emphatically for locals, usually. They’re where you find gyms and meeting rooms and swimming pools and rinks and libraries, in some combination.
In Vancouver, they’re pretty well all busy all the time. There are aerobics and yoga and swimming and karate and committees happening here. And in the library, lots of people online and lots of people reading and some just taking refuge from the mean streets, hanging out. Lauren asked me to look for a movie and it wasn’t here, but I accidentally picked up Home Fires by Gene Wolfe, No Enemies, No Hatred by Liu Xiaobo, and African Guitar Summit.
Nothing about the centre is luxurious, but it’s comfy and convenient and has staff to help people out; mostly unpestered and bored on a Thursday evening. There is a woman with a field-hockey stick looking at manga, and another in a wheelchair in the mysteries, and a muscular guy with aggro tatoos reading Franklin the turtle to a toddler.
I’m sitting in a beat-up but OK soft chair using the WiFi (you have to have a library card) which is klunky to get on, and fades in and out a bit, but good enough to blog and write code by.
My city taxes aren’t terribly high, and still we have enough to provide this. I am lucky, so lucky, swimming in the water of a working civic society where we take not-terrible care of each other; and have community centres.
Like David Brin says: “I am a member of a civilization.” Yup.