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After decades of neglecting my nails, I am now a regular at my local beauty bar. It’s a tiny place on Main Street, half a block from my home. Nothing fancy, but the staff are lovely, the room is spotless, and, well, I’m addicted to the YouTube channel they leave running.
I made the mistake—once—of only having a manicure. I thought the dissatisfaction I left with was due to missing out on the massage chair, but it wasn’t the root problem. What I really missed was facing the big-screen TV and seeing the extraordinary life chronicles of Li Ziqi—a Chinese vlogger in Sichuan province. Watching these rolling, beautifully shot videos for an hour every few weeks is the perfect antidote to the never-ending internal to-do list that bounces around my brain.
Li is a marvel—a young woman who, if the screen is to be believed, is fully self-sufficient, not only growing all her own food, building fences and outdoor ovens, raising livestock, dying clothes with grape skins (I kid you not), but also gathering her bounty to create the most mouth-watering dishes to feed herself and her aged grandmother. I have no idea how much of this is smoke and mirrors, but Li’s videos—which contain little dialogue over gentle music and the sounds of nature—are soothing and aspirational in equal measure. That she achieves all this without getting her hands dirty completes the seduction. I leave with well-polished nails and ideas for dinner.
Making a break for a simpler life is rarely as elegant as Li’s depiction. In this issue, one former urbanite tells his own, rather more relatable, tale of going back to the land when he moved from Vancouver to Saltspring Island. What his stories share with many of the others featured here is resilience.
Jessi Harewicz is hardly well known outside of her sporting community, but this Vancouver woman is an internationally recognized endurance cold-water swimmer who has faced down all the alarming dangers the open ocean can deliver. On more solid ground, developer Michael Ching has endured years of difficulties to see his vision for a Richmond leisure and entertainment hub begin to take shape.
The history-keepers of Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley have never lost the faith. Their dogged desire to have this once-vibrant Black neighbourhood recognized and reimagined is in the early stages of becoming a reality. And the feted Haida manga artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is at the forefront of active decolonization with his latest work created for Berlin’s newest museum, the Humboldt Forum. Published on Main made its mark as one of eight Vancouver restaurants awarded a Michelin star, but as chef and owner Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson explains, the journey to that achievement was anything but straight.
Our cover star is a bona fide legend. Dame Zandra Rhodes is fashion royalty, having designed clothes for everyone from Freddie Mercury to Barbra Streisand. Now 82 and in remission from cancer, she remains hard at work, keeping her spot at the cutting edge of popular culture. Everything about her is an inspiration.
Read more from our Winter 2022 issue.