A Norman Rockwell moment in Whistler 

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Everyone can feel it with a mounting sense of dread, most of all the kids.

It's in that early morning nip to the air, the bittersweet news that the PNE is open again, the subtle back-to-school preparations and the not-so-subtle new haircuts.

Summer is fast drawing in: Endless biking, afternoon dips at the lake, lemonade stands, massive games of hide-and-go-seek, stubborn dirt under the fingernails, handmade bike jumps, popsicles, another trip to the corner store. It's all quickly coming to an end.

We are blissfully back-in-time in my neck of the Alpine woods; summers here look and sound pretty much the same way summers have always looked and sounded. IPads have been abandoned, TV forgotten, and there's a singular focus on spending as much time out of doors with the neighbourhood kids as possible.

They've become a tribe of their own, with scrapped knees and dirty faces, playing together no matter the age, as long as you can put your foot in the middle to see who's "it." They swarm en masse when the neighbourhood pro mountain biker comes home from work; he, in turn, jumps on his bike and "kicks" a soccer ball around the street with his front tire, the kids pass it back on their bikes.

As my neighbour describes it: a Norman Rockwell Whistler moment, a quintessential slice of everyday local life.This is the behind-the-scenes image of resort living that the tourists often don't get to see as they wonder about one of those enduring Whistler mysteries — where do all the locals live?

From our postcard-perfect village it's confounding to learn there is a world beyond our village, little neighbourhoods tucked into the mountains, hidden by the trees, in a somewhat orderly linear fashion, hugging the highway on the east side and west, from Function to Emerald.

We live in A-frames and Gothic arches, in employee housing and multi-million dollar mansions. We live in suites and in single-family homes. We're used to walking on the road without sidewalks and we don't need streetlights to find our way home. This is what it means to live in a Whistler neighbourhood — small-town living on the edge of an international resort.

But it's not always that easy.

With second homes prolific throughout the resort municipality, it's not uncommon to find darkened houses on every street, to not know your neighbours because they are rarely there. These are the homes that only get lived in a few times a year or on weekends throughout the winter. It can fracture our neighbourhoods, our sense of belonging to a community.

It is one of the reasons why our Halloween tradition endures at Tapley's Farm, where many full time residents live and take their Halloween responsibility very seriously, and where people from outlying neighbourhoods come to trick or treat.

Another wonderfully unique thing about Whistler as we think about so many Whistler wonders in the lead up to its 40th anniversary.

This is why the Whistler Centre for Sustainability's (WCS) new initiative is so important in a place like Whistler.

The WCS wants you to organize block party in your neighbourhood to foster that Tapley's kind of feeling. The idea is to have a little shindig in a house or a business or a park as a way to get to know your neighbours, talk about common issues, foster that feeling of community.

It works.

Earlier this summer my neighbours organized such a party. It's came about quite organically, championed by a few, encouraged by the others. I was out of town but my family was there. Everyone came out of the woodwork. There was food and drinks and music and games for the kids, new introductions, catching up with old neighbours. It was a roaring success.


Because despite this feeling that our sense of community is quickly disappearing, that we are becoming more insular, stuck on phones and computers, losing touch with each other, truth be told, on that deeper emotional level we all want to connect, to feel as though we belong, to be a part of a tribe.

It's as human nature as watching the neighbourhood kids figure out the natural order of things in their gang hierarchy: the older ones are automatically in charge, helping out the younger ones. If you misbehave, you get shut out until you figure it out. If you can't get over the homemade jump, they'll move it closer for you, followed by cheers and shouts when you finally make it.

Our neighbourhoods are the very fabric of our unique resort town, the soul of our community. So, start thinking about throwing a block party in your neck of the woods and creating your own Whistler Rockwell moment.



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