Celebrating the Unlympics

The #Unlympics: Tweet the world, meet your neighbours.

No, it’s not a typo. I first thought of the idea of celebrating the Unlympics a couple of weeks ago as I cycled downtown by the Olympic Village only to find the seawall—My Seawall—closed! It got me thinking how much worse travel around the city would be once the Olympics really got going? I know many people are going to be out of work, or school or unable to get around the city during the Olympics and I started to imagine a scene reminiscent of winter storms in the East where everything gets shut down and people wait out the storm at home.

I live in Cambie Village and, while not ground zero for commotion and road closures, it’s likely to be the crossroads for many raucous events. VGH is designated as one of the official hospitals to the Olympics (sounds messy), so depending on how the next few weeks develop, my neighbourhood could be a busy place indeed—even to those hunkering down at home. “That’s right Lloyd, the entire Jamaican bobsledding team has just been airlifted directly to Vancouver General. We take you there now live. [Sounds of helicopters, sirens, screams, and reggae music].”

My first inkling of people carrying on a normal life during the Olympics came with an invitation from my neighbours to join them at their house for an evening of Rummoli. You mean, everyday life continues even, (gasp!) during the Olympics? Apparently so.

Other than the familiar extremes of glowingly welcoming the world or joining the throng protesting the Olympics, what is available in our own neighbourhoods? Rummoli may not be your thing, but if it’s hard to get around the city for weeks on end, why not consider your own neighbourhood as a place for celebration? Taking the middle ground is, after all, a proven Canadian tradition we should not turn our backs on now.

Most community centres, such as the Kitsilano Community Centre, offer their own official opening events in their centre’s Community Living Room. The Strathcona Community Centre web site invites you to “Bring out the whole family for some fun activities, a light dinner and the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games on our 50" plasma television”. These small neighbourly events will undoubtedly be homier and perhaps saner than joining the mobs in Robson Square.

While I plan to get out and join in the official celebration, I’m remembering that there’s also cause for quieter celebration with my neighbours—to get up close and analogue—the Unlympics. How will you celebrate in your neighbourhood?

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