Pender, between Heatley and Hawks.

Too much fun last night at the Astoria Hotel, leading to an unplanned stay a block away at my parking spot, in Strathcona. From the street this house looks teeny and extra extra cute, but that’s because on this block the street is ten feet higher than the ground, and all the houses have little bridges that lead from the sidewalk to their main entrances, which are on the second floor. Look a little closer and you see that this house is a lot bigger, and a lot more decrepit, than it appears.

It’s always fascinated me that this lovely community of artists and Chinese families lies so quietly just a block away from the bleak reality of the Downtown Eastside. I lived in this neighbourhood for several years while working at an emergency shelter a few blocks away, and I always thought it would be healing for my clients to spend time in the beautiful parks and squares of Strathcona. But DTES residents rarely cross that invisible line at Hastings. It leads to another world, not welcoming or comfortable for them.