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Posted on 20 June 2012

“Kiez” is a German word I like. I came across it in an article about Berlin which reads:

“In Berlin, your sense of identity comes less from the city than from the Viertel (quarter), the Bezirk (neighborhood), the Kiez (your five square blocks of core reality).” (source)

I read that about a year ago, and it immediately struck a chord. I’m not sure of the exact definition, but the way I interpret it is “Kiez” means the places you go on a regular basis– where you live, where you work, where you play.

To me it makes sense to define where you live by these places. More sense than simply where your home is. Much more sense than what city you occupy.

Last night I had a couple of meetings downtown. I walked between them in the evening, a time when I’m rarely downtown. I saw people taking their dogs for an evening stroll. They were passing Connaught Hill and City Hall. In contrast, I live right by Moore’s Meadow, an undeveloped park. While they’re walking on downtown streets, I’m on dirt and swatting mosquitoes. We both live in Prince George, but our experience of the place is very different.

When I worked at UNBC it was part of my daily experience. But I know other people who go there once a year or less. It barely factors into their lives. Likewise, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I spent any time in the Hart, even though it’s a major part of the city I lived in all my life. For people who grew up there, it defines what Prince George is. For me, it wasn’t even a reality. Somone who lives in College Heights and works at the mall would experience something completely different.

We get so used to the idea of defining ourselves by cities that it’s easy to think if I live in the same city as you, we see and experience the same things. But depending on where you live, work, and play, where your friends are, where you shop and eat, things can be completely different. I think that’s important thing to keep in mind. We may live in the same city, but it’s far more interesting to find out about each other’s Kiez.

Filed under: Best Of, cities

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