This painting reflects life in the wee hours on the corner of 16oth and Mill Plain, Vancouver, Washington — an area named Fisher’s Landing.
Before I wrote this article, I painted this painting, which was begging for voice, and I intended the article to be voiced from the perspective of my dog, my service dog Monty, who is familiar around here being that I am disabled and do not drive and so the sidewlaks and streets of Fisher’s Landing are up close and personal to he and I both.
But I found I could not write a folksy, cutey neighhborhood article.
The truth is, living here in Vancouver USA or Fisher’s Landing, etc., may not be so much fun after all.
Let me clarify this corner street. Mill Plain and 160th collide, and there is music playing off the mexican restaurant all night for their outdoor diners, did they forget to turn it off for the night, or were they thinking of the persons up along the road who can appreciate a could jam-down to a Mexican swing song?
There is a diner who leaves its music on all night, ttoo, I call it the stardust diner out of the romance of an old Nat King Cole song. It gives me a beat when I walk with my Monty to the 7-11 for an ungodly hour cuppa joe and hot dog due to insomnia.
Cruising peace officers remind me that many persons experience insomnia, and we wave to each other.
The 24-hour pharmacy .5 miles down the road is a blessing in a pinch.
But wait — wasn’t I going to come up witth a few paragraphs of fun and fivolity?
Yep, there are those exquisite skateboarders who zoom across the Wild (we all have our “Wild,” Cheryl Straid) intersection of Mill Plain and 160th and hit that little footwalk bridge and catch air Las Vegas style and miraculously miss the umbrella – topped outdoor dining tables of that fresh mex burrito place.
Look behind this corner, and there is an elementary school that has no viable art department and requires paretn volunteers and donated supplies if the students are to have any real art experience.
Behind that quaint italian styled fountain is also a row of Thai, Korean, and a much missed postal outlet store run by an Indian family — yep, turban and all. And I loved him and his wife and children who rallied him, and eventually closed shop.
Fisher’s Landing is known for being a higher end district of Vancouver — go up the east hill and fancy homes are still being pruned, although many are up for sale and have been for years, with no economic relief.
So what is Fisher’s Landing?
Perhpas later I can listen to my dog’s tails and write a fun and funny article on the lighter side of all that meets up on the corner streets of Mill Plain and 160th.
Today I report empty buses, food bank heroes, $150 rent increases delivered to tenants in questionable, even quasi-exhortive moves. And all the new fees for extras that are not written into the lease but somehow “required” for tenants.
Clark County has a long, long history of rules and regs and judicial decisions weighed and given heavlily to the ruling landlords.
Still is, far as I can see.
And those who speak english as a second language, who depend on their 2nd-graders to interpret for them, I can’t help but think the landlords depend on those tenants to quash complaints that attempt to find a hook into the court system.
How can a neighborhood be cynical with a newly expanded, newly built Starbucks?
Let’s not be fooled.
There is still no mental health clinic out this way. It requires a 50 minute bus ride (the #37 is an overburdened line into downtown Vancouver, and with each transfer costing a brand new fare, becomes a day trip with not much supper money at the end of the day).
And I’m not convinced Clark County is hiring/retaining quality mental health workers. The Crisis Line is a joke. The police respond to mental health crisis rolling their eyes and throwing up their hands in ignorance of what to do to help. The Emergency Rooms at Peace Health and Legacy Salmon Creek are the places the crisis patient ends up, only to meet nurses and doctors who are contemptous of psych patients showing up — “not what I went to medical school for.” The social workers who are required to visit a mentally ill admit only stay with the patient 2-4 minutes, ask the routine harm to self or others gateway questions, and leave with a brochure of community resources. The patient is taken to the road, with a bus ticket, or if it is at 2 a.m., a medical taxi ride home — to what — mental health outpatient facilities with new grads and burn out professionals, 60 minute ohone – hold times (whoops there goes your minutes) to be set on a wait list 60-90 days out?
And these are the people who are on the street, trying to cope by walking, visiting, sharing pot and complaints and babysitting each other kids and trying to hook up with a partner that can temporarily distract them from their real need, which is real therapy, real psych meds for real problems.
Later I’ll write something fun about the corner about Mill Plain and 160th, and how we need culture on this stretch of Clark County after the closure of Borders several years ago and the tyranny of natural food markets that have parked up here —
But ’nuff said for now.
I and my serrvice dog are off to another walk-about to try to find the color, the pleasure, the inspiration that could be an NYC in the heart of Fisher’s Landing.
I painted this painting, “Corner Story,” of the intersection of 160th/Mill Plain in Fisher’s Landing, because I still believe there can be culture enjoyed by all, relief for common and basic problems of daily living, and commradere for the unexpected crisis.
But I can’t walk my dog out there without being hit with the reality.
So I can’t write that article, yet.
Heidi Hansen, MA is a Mental Health Recovery Specialist, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.