One of the great things about living in Kitchener-Waterloo is that you don’t need to go far to eat, shop, or play. Perhaps it is partly because of this that one of friends can say that Waterloo isn’t about the scenery or the pretty buildings, but about the community that brings the people and the city together (I’m glad that others have come to this same conclusion).
Yesterday, the little one and I deviated from her regular routine and instead of a morning nap; we headed over to our neighbourhood community centre to play with toys and make new friends. Today, I participated in a free, lively workshop (hosted by Employment Ontario) about money saving ideas in and around town and was inspired by other like-minded people who have even better methods of saving money / finding a good deal (so I’m not the only crazy one out there who wants to turn a palette into a furniture piece! sadly, I don’t have any tools nor have I the woodworking experience).
In this morning’s daily #livelocalkw email, we were asked, how do you feel about your community when you eat, shop, and play local? Aside from being able to support the livelihood of those in the community, by being intentional, the faces around you eventually become people you know instead of strangers who you may only interact with once or twice (or maybe not at all for those transactions done over a screen).
EatAroma Cafe’s Bibimbap (Photo: Aroma Cafe, Facebook)
Uptown Waterloo’s Aroma Café, not to be confused with the Toronto-based Aroma Espresso Bar franchise chain, is a small coffee shop that is tucked away in the upstairs of the building beside Angie’s Kitchen. But don’t think that it’s just another “coffee” shop; Kiki, the owner, is super-friendly and aside from making their own blends of coffee beans (which they discount off every few days to keep their supply fresh), I love that she puts her own twist in traditional Korean bibimbap, using atypical ingredients like beets, turnip, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts so that the dish tastes super fresh and is full of “gourmet” vegetables. I’ve concluded that any of her Korean-style takes are simply delicious, because her rice cakes and kalbi pockets were tasty too.
One of our regular weekly destinations to shop on Saturdays is the Kitchener Market. We go to get locally grown vegetables, eggs, and other good (non-local) deals. We also find that the average price at this market cheaper than the one in St. Jacob’s, perhaps it is because it feels less touristy and has fewer vendors. Like the St. Jacob’s market, many vendors will also mark down their fresh food to clear their stock by the end of the day (10 minutes prior closing, which is around 2pm).
Community associations/centres and recreation complexes provide quality programs at affordable prices; for instance, the caregiver + tot drop-in down the street from us costs $1 each time we go. Depending on the community association, you can find a range of offerings, from fitness and sports like indoor running tracks (free!), badminton and ballroom dancing to art and cooking classes. Our neighbourhood association even throws a yearly party for the community, bringing live entertainment, music, and bouncy castles!
Even if you’re not participating this challenge, how do you feel when you eat, shop, or play local?