photos: Ron McGrath sells Megaphone at 16th and Macdonald in Kitsilano.

A tree of hope grows in Kitsilano

Ron McGrath sells Megaphone at 16th and Macdonald in Kitsilano.

Get on your megaphone

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There’s a lot happening in the neighbourhood where I sell Megaphone. There have been some sad incidents that have also demonstrated thecare people express towards eachother in the community.

One example is the story of Michael. For some time now, the corner of Trafalgar Street and 16th Avenue in Kitsilano has been a controversial spot for accidents and speed. Eleven years ago, a man named Michael was the victim of negligence. Mike was riding his bike down 16th Avenue when a man left his car door open while rushing into the drycleaner’s. Mike ran into the door, flipping over it. He was rushed to hospital and he didn’t survive.

One of my customers knew Mike. His name is Christopher Richardson. On a few different weekends I saw him go by my vending spot in front of Choices Market with a wheelbarrow of dirt and a shovel.He was working on a monkey puzzle tree, putting new soil where he dug up dirt. Christopher was replacing the post with a bike wheel attached to it next to the tree.It was falling apart, and he was putting upa new one. A lady came by and placed a painted blue rock with Michael’s name on it, a token to remember the man who lost his life near that tree. I call it the tree of hope.

Christopher told me the history of the tree, which he planted himself with the help of others. It stands in a place that used to mark where Vancouver ended and Point Grey began, he said. And the adjacent street used to be a creek, a salmon creek. The tree of hope is planted in the median.

Christopher is a special customer I have known for about a year. He gets around, just like me! One of my most memorable times with Christopher is when I was walking along near B.C. Place Stadium. He got off his bike and came walking towards me with a five-dollar bill in his hand, saying, “I’ll have a Megaphone.” I had no idea who he was. Taking his helmet off, I laughed to discover it was Christopher from Kits!

After that, he couldn’t fool me with his helmet on. I see him these days doingevents all over town. Christopher is aperson out there making a difference in his communities. I can tell this when he buys a Megaphone from me. Christopher astonishes me with his knowledge of Vancouver history. He has deep roots in this city, dating back to his great grandfather. He asks me, do you remember the old Smiling Buddha club down in Chinatown? I have a print of the artist who painted a postcard of that, I said. He has one too. The artist, whose name was McKellar, was a person who Christopher used to go down and have chats with.

I have another customer at Choices who also shares Christopher’s historical experiences in Vancouver. Wow, I am getting free history lessons selling here! Thank you Mark and Christopher for the history lessons. I am forever astounded by the customers I meet.

Christopher is a very busy man, involving himself on charity boards, raising fundsfor good causes. As he flips the pagesof Megaphone, he’ll say, I know this person, and he will tell me a story of his experiences knowing the person. And now, this well-connected man gives mea leaflet. He says he’s running for the school board under the NPA banner! Golly gee! Christopher gets my vote and he should get lots of hugs. He demonstratesa transparency and involvement with community that I like to see in politicians.

In addition to receiving free history lessons from customers, I also get free hugs. The hugs always happen at this time of year when the Hope in Shadows calendar comes out. One of my customers, Rebecca, says hugs come naturally for her when she hasn’t seen me for a long time. Another customer, Shannon, says that hugs are free. Thank you, both, for your affection and for brightening my day. Here I was, thinking of writing a sequel to a Vendor Voices column I wrote last year about hugs—and oops, I just did!

To my supportive customers, you all move me.

Ron sells Megaphone in front of the Choices Market at 16th and Macdonald. He would like his customers to Google Neil Young’s “Who’s Going to Stand Up” to discover the inspiration for his poem published below: 

The World We Live In
The world we live in is the world we create
A loss is not the end of the world
It’s a message—to rebuild
Rebuilding is slow, it’s a challenge
For heart and soul
The growth is rewarding
It is time to stop destroying
Stop the greed, the laundering
Of our will.
The devastation
This world is creating.
It’s not ours To live—nor is it ours to destroy
Yet there seems to be no stopping— Like Hitler’s demise (The Awakening)
Warning: the lights are getting Dimmer and dimmer.
Are there not alternative solutions? Our waters are precious
They outweigh the gold—the fools
That chase has lost their souls
I have one mother left
That’s Mother Earth
I want to protect her
With my heart and soul.
Around the world, they’re fracking the juices from her
Every action
There is a reaction
It may cause her to form earthquakes
And floods
Who’s going to protect Mother Earth
And her streams
Oh, Mother Earth, I will protect thee
Who is going to stand up
The people who fish
The people who eat fish
The people who drink the water—
And I will
And I will


Get on your megaphone

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