101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 28

Today I met up with my stranger of the day over smoothies at Kits beach. We both biked there, she in her dress and me in my skirt. She wanted to meet for smoothies instead of coffee because they’re healthier. I thought it was a great idea and now I’m feeling more inspired to wean myself off of caffeine. Her name is Laure and I’m excited to tell you about her.

(Background: As I mentioned in my post on Day 4, I was fortunate to exchange contact information with a bunch of really interesting strangers after giving them my elevator pitch a couple of weeks ago at the Creative Mornings event. I told them that I would love to meet with each of them over what was then the next 97 days, over coffee or tea [or smoothies], on me.)

Laure is an SEO (search engine optimization) entrepreneur.  She grew up in France, where she studied photography and multi-media. She’s fascinated by the power of social media and how online networks can bring people together in really meaningful ways. She’s been living in Vancouver for about eight years now and is about to become a Canadian citizen. 

But she finds Canadian culture to be a little bit perplexing. “People do way too many things here. Why not just have your job, your family, your friends, and one hobby”, she said, giggling a little. She finds happiness in simplicity.

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She said that when she sees a French person in Vancouver, even before she hears them speak, she feels a vibe and knows they share a French connection. They have a certain way of expressing themselves. Laure has observed that the French are generally more open to feeling what they need to feel, whereas Canadians seem to be polite no matter what, whether it’s coming from a place of authenticity or not. “It’s like the French are happy being sad, happy being angry, happy to feel what they really feel. Like, for example, if you see a girl crying in the middle of the street, she’s probably not Canadian. She’s probably French”, Laure said, smiling.

“When I was a barista”, she said, “people would walk in and greet me saying ‘hi, how are you?’ I thought they were so kind. But after a while, I realized that sometimes they didn’t even wait to hear how I was doing after asking. It was like an automatic extension of ‘hello’. Polite and kind but not necessarily warm.” 

She’s been getting into permaculture recently. She just attended a workshop/gathering learning more about place-making and bringing people together through community. She’s always learning.

Something she loves about Vancouver is how opportunities come your way if you just have an open mind and are receptive to whatever comes your way. She’s loving her life here. One thing she misses about France, though, is the history and architecture. She really feels as though preserving historical buildings is like protecting and preserving culture.

She loves photography — specifically architecture photography — but she isn’t particularly inspired by our lack of architectural history to take photos in Vancouver. I found it difficult to argue with that.

We talked about demographics and an infographic that intrigued her. Basically, she told me, it highlighted the ways in which older generations value security and money, whereas her generation (30-somethings) isn’t generally as attached to this idea. She said that my generation, or the 20-somethings and younger, are mostly interested in being “liked” — on Facebook or otherwise. This can be good or bad, depending on what is socially constructed as likeable. 

Lastly, as an entrepreneur would, she gave us the following advice: if you’re working toward something and are passionate about it, you should never give up. And I can promise you this advice was coming from a place of utmost French authenticity. She really meant it.

 

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