Friday, August 20, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Morning in Vancouver

It’s 6 a.m. and the streets of downtown Vancouver are empty, yet expectant.

Somewhere, perhaps at Java House or Cream and Sugar nearby, a coffee grinder startles itself back to life. Early bird attorneys begin to file into their office buildings. Not to be outdone, the real estate brokers and the title insurance salespeople follow, parking their cars, coffee cups in hand, ready for a new day. Then come the government workers, the mechanics, the retirees out for a morning stroll.

Nearly two years after the “death” of Vancouver’s downtown district was declared, life goes on much as it did before the crash brought a flood of vacant office space, disappearing investment capital and stalled construction projects.

Life does go on.

We in the news biz tend to focus on worst-case scenarios, reporting on business closings, mass layoffs, the real estate developments never realized – which to put it bluntly, is steady work for most of us.

However, while it’s true that thousands in Clark County remain jobless and the list of shuttered businesses grows longer, there is another part of the story.

For the majority, everyday life hasn’t changed all that much. Thousands of people still go to work every morning, drop off the kids at daycare or school and pay their bills on time. And while the value of their homes and their retirement savings plummet, rather than cry from the rooftops, many just shrug in the quiet confines of their living rooms and think, “I’m in it for the long haul.”

That private moment of courage – full of the kind of conviction which triumphs over every recession, including so-called “great” ones – occurs almost every minute of every day, though hardly any news organization will pick up on it.

It’s a sense of determination which is most apparent in the faces of those going to work at 6 a.m. in downtown Vancouver, where the streets slowly begin to fill and a new day begins.