Before we discovered an alternative to Google, we spotted a big orange cat. The cat caught our attention because it was taking up a parking spot at Fisherman’s Wharf. There was something compelling about how confidently it sprawled its orange fur against the dark pavement. Unfortunately the people walking by, who we hoped would talk about the cat on camera, weren’t so fearless.
So we decided to do something different in our search for a TV story. We left the camera in the truck and went for a walk along the docks between the float homes. That’s when we met somebody who does things differently daily.
Pauline Beauvais told us she had found an alternative to saving children and searching the internet.
She says she stops kids from drowning by filling the outside of her float home with a large and eclectic collection of sculptures, including a human-sized nutcracker. “When they come barrelling around the corner without any life jackets on, they get to this and all of sudden they stop.” Instead of careening into the ocean, the kids are spellbound.
But Pauline is paying a price for life-saving and dynamic decorating. “You really can’t be a hoarder when you live on a float home,” she says “because the more you put on, the more it goes down.” That’s why she has no TV, no mobile phone and no computer.
Instead of searching for information online, she found an easel and white board. Pauline just writes a question in erasable ink and posts it on the dock next to her home.
She says her questions have ranged from foreign languages to municipal bylaws. She says there is always enough people walking along the docks that she’ll always get an answer within a couple hours.
Pauline also returns the favour. While internet search engines capitalize on your personal information by selling it to advertisers, Pauline rewards the people who answer her questions with personal stories about her neighbours. She guarantees they will be funny, if not always true. “My motto is, ‘if you don’t hear a rumour in an hour – start one.’”
We don’t have the same luxury telling such stories on the news, so we ask if we can record her on camera. She agrees. When we return to the truck, the cat who parked itself like a car is gone. But we thank it, like we thank Pauline, for showing us the potential of doing things differently.
Adam Sawatsky is co-host of CTV News Vancouver Island at Five. On weekends, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.