When I first moved to Calgary just over 3 years ago, I was pessimistic and quite negative about the city's maddening sprawl, crazy city parking rates (second highest in North America), lack of urban vibe, unprogressive transit system, and high prices. Since this time, even though I am still irked by all of these negative traits, I have come to appreciate my city.
These are my favourite things about my new home:
- New Hope Church: I have become quite involved and attached to this small church. It meets in a community centre which means it is not an empty building for most of the week. The pastors are enigmatic, caring, and thinking. It has a great core of volunteers that set-up, run tech, and children's programs. It has a great focus on reading the Creational Text alongside the Bible. The worship music is stupendous because of the great skill of the musicians and because of the great song choices. It is also a socially conscious church that has a community development partnership in Malawi, a fundraising group for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, involvement with Inn from the Cold, etc.
- The Calgary Zoo: Our family has had year memberships for nearly three years now because it is such an enjoyable outing for our whole family - kids love it and Amber and I do too. The animal population of the zoo is so vast and diverse that each visit can be unique. It is spread out enough that it involves a good walk and leaves you satisfyingly invigorated afterwards. My favourite residents are the tigers, giant anteaters, red pandas, and the andean condor. The new plant conservatory is also especially refreshing in the winter.
- Dragonfly Cohousing: I know, I blog about cohousing a bit much, but it is indeed one of the most important features of Calgary that I am involved in. The only other completed cohousing projects in Canada are the dozen or so in BC, one in Ontario and Prairie Sky in Calgary. It feels great to be a part of such a good force in this city: raising density, building energy efficiently, inter-generational community.
- Mayor Nenshi: We have enjoyed the leadership and vision of Mayor Naheed Nenshi for just over a year now. He is an academic with a great sense of what Calgary can become and it has been a pleasure having him at the helm of City Hall.
- City Parks: We don't get out to the parks nearly enough, but we have explored Nose Hill, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Baker Park, Edworthy Park, Bowness Park, and Prince's Island during the last three years. Calgary has the two largest city parks in Canada: Nose Hill and Fish Creek which rank 44th and 38th in the world respectively.
- Concerts: Since Calgary is the largest Canadian city between Vancouver and Toronto, we rarely get skipped over by concert tours (though U2 played Edmonton rather than Calgary back in June). The musical drought I experienced in Guatemala ended when we moved here: Sam Roberts, Leonard Cohen, The New Pornographers, Arcade Fire, Switchfoot, Wilco, Calexico, Mountain Goats, Owen Pallett, etc.
- Rocky Mountains: Everytime I get in my car and either drive west or south I see the peaks on the Rocky Mountain Range (that is if the sky is clear, which in sunny Alberta it usually is). The mountains never cease to inspire awe.
- City Skyline: I remember passing through downtown Calgary on the bus just days after coming back to Canada and having my jaw drop. You can not not be impressed by the downtown outline driving down Sarcee South or along John Laurie. The oil industry has fed a great highrise race downtown.
- CO-OP Liquor Stores: Such fantastic beer selections. They deserve special mention in this list.
- Specialty Shops: I don't get to shop much, nor do I have much spending money, but I do enjoy the odd outing to Mountain Equipment Co-op, Memory Express (tech supplies), and Fair's Fair (used books). Glad they are there!
- Friends: We aren't lonely. Ever. Thanks y'all!