there’s no room for me here anymore

In False Creek Change,” Vancouver indie group Said the Whale sing about the gentrification of the city, of saying goodbye to a place they once called home:

False Creek changed in ‘86

the year Expo exploited her shore

It’s been twenty-two years laying down bricks

and there’s no room for me here any more, any more

there’s no room for me here anymore


I made my mark in ‘84

Born to the month of June

My home at the heart of Charleson Park

I never thought I’d be leaving so soon, so soon

Never thought I’d be leaving so soon

False Creek condos. View from Granville Island.

False Creek with view of Science World built for Expo ’86

Those are some pictures of False Creek today. With all its seafoam glass condos and precious view corridors, you’d hardly think it was one of the city’s key industrial sites prior to the 1980s when it got cleaned up for Expo. People who could no longer afford to stay, left. There’s no room for me here anymore.

I was reminded of Said the Whale’s song when reading about how the City of Vancouver is pledging to help artists find stable, long-term studio space after a number of them had to vacate a heritage building on 901 Main Street. You can read the article in The Vancouver Sun.

To help provide more space for Vancouver’s 8200 artists, the City has proposed turning two empty, city-owned buildings along Industrial Avenue in False Creek Flats – 251 & 281, into art studios. Together, the buildings comprise over 26 000 square feet.

281 Industrial Avenue. Photo by Jim Carrico.

It’s tough to be an artist in a city where the rent is so expensive. Artists need affordable space to make their art. They need a room of one’s own, to borrow Virginia Woolf’s phrase.

If this proposal goes through, it will make room for a certain kind of people in False Creek again – artists whose creative endeavours are often suited to older, industrial warehouses with their open floor layouts, large windows and high ceilings. Maybe it will welcome back to a place (and home) artists who have new songs to record, pictures to paint, and stories to write about that won’t just be farewell, there’s no room for me here anymore.

The Yellow Room

Last week I wrote about spaces that famous authors have lived and wrote in. I said I would invite you into a former writing space of mine, so here it is:

I knew happiness whenever I entered my Anne of Green Gables loft with yellow paint that complemented the Jack Vettriano hanging above my bed. The angled skylight amplified the sound of West Coast rain drumming me to sleep many a night; the south-facing window offered a cropped view of paragliders sailing effortlessly through the skies above Victoria’s Dallas Road. They say different spaces make you feel different ways, and I felt home when I turned the knob of that bedroom door I was almost too tall to walk through. I remember the morning sun streaming through the blinds, making patterned rainbows on my wall that could be the subject of an Impressionist painting; the smell of the ocean when I opened the window and let the salty Pacific air waft through my fairytale space in all its glory. I even had a little writer’s desk that looked towards the ocean that I couldn’t see as much as I could sense. I couldn’t have asked for a better space. I think I could almost endure windowless, dreary basement suites for the rest of my life because I had one year in that yellow room—a room of my own, thank you Virginia Woolf. It made me want to write in it and about it, although I wish I had written less fact and more fiction. I got through grad school pouring copious cups of tea for myself while poring over books, articles, and notes that ate up all my energy for creative leftovers, every last drop, and what little I saved I brought to the ocean to contemplate, rejuvenate, and forget.

Okay, so I tend to be a bit melodramatic when I write for myself (this was an excerpt from my journal), but from looking at the room, does it not live up to the image I painted of it? I think so. Oh how I miss that yellow room, that space that apparently I grew so exhausted in writing academically that I gave up on writing creatively, although what was I thinking? When will I have such an inspiring place again, or so much mental stimulation?

What’s your writing space? Do you have “a yellow room?”