The guide

Turn around. Look at your own home town.
RE | Issue 18 | 2020



'thousands of crows gather as the sun sets'


Eight writers show us their world, distilled in 100 words





Lakes run through Minneapolis, strung along Minnehaha Creek. Parkland follows the lakes and the creek to the river and back, making a loop through the city. In the south, the creek meets the river in a gorge below a waterfall, just above where the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers join. The city’s greatest park is here: river floodplain below sandstone bluffs, spanned by a white bridge. Now it is fall, and thousands of crows gather in the trees along the river as the sun sets. Soon it will be winter, and eagles will fish where the dam stops the ice. Leaf Dilts McGregor, Minnesota





The first thing you notice is the sky. And then the river Alde, crossed by a brick bridge at its head of navigation. The river meanders its way to the coast, with its reed beds and mud flats at low tide for the oystercatchers and curlews. The tower of Iken church glints in the distance through trees. On the lawns are sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. Thames barges and other boats are moored on the old quay, next to the brick-and-ivy Victorian maltings, converted by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears into a concert hall with a glorious acoustic.  Richard Calnan, Suffolk





Calgary was named after a hamlet on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. The name comes from the Norse words kald (cold) and gart (garden). I was born in this vibrant city. Calgary sits 1,100 metres above sea level, within eyesight of the Rocky Mountains to the west. Summer means blue skies and sunshine until well into the night. For me, that means daily cycling in the countryside. Winter also means sunshine but shorter days and regular dumps of the powdery white snow known affectionately as ‘pow’. For me, that means alpine skiing at world-class resorts a short drive away. Steve Leitl, Alberta




Brussels is a city of neighborhoods. Most visitors only see the historic center and the European Quarter, but Brussels has nineteen communes with their own quirks and local governments. My community, Watermael-Boitsfort, is 60% forest: a green island. But it’s very diverse; the kids at my son’s local school include children of Belgians who’ve lived nearby all their lives, Eurocrats, high-level Belgian politicians, and African refugees. And Boitsfort is plucky—when the US wanted to buy a vacant office building for a new embassy, the Green Party mayor quickly got it listed to block the sale. Guess who backed down? Jay Modrall, Belgium





The ‘little red dot’ is my adopted home, not my home town. Singapore is a tiny island. One can drive from one end to the other in under an hour. I live in the Eastern region, a ten-minute drive from the airport, a five-minute walk to the beach and a fifteen-minute drive to the office. Forty years ago, the land my home sits on now was sea. If I close my eyes at the beach, I can hear the sounds of the birds and the waves; I open my eyes and I see hundreds of vessels anchored off the coastline. Pooja Balani, Singapore





I am originally from Kansas, USA and, as Dorothy—in The Wizard of OZ—put it, ‘there is no place like home’. For the past twelve years, I have embraced Melbourne, Australia as my hometown. Home to Indigenous Australians for more than 40,000 years, Melbourne is an urban agglomeration bustling with diversity, a metropolitan oasis—the Garden City of Australia. Melbourne’s reputation for delivering four seasons in one day is what makes my hometown spectacular. It was love at first sight, and the feeling was mutual. Melbourne embraced me right back. Healthy, wealthy and wise: Melbourne is where it’s at. Donald Betts, Victoria





I live in a village strung out along the shore of the Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland, where land meets sea meets sky, and I look out and see mist and clouds and the shadowy lines of islands. A bus runs each hour along the shore road. In the community shop they sell milk in bottles from the Wee Dairy on the Isle of Gigha. It rains so often that the land is green with moss and ferns. One minute rain or wind and the next light: it is a little like living in a painting. Nicola Liu, Argyll and Bute





I was born and raised in San Jose, California but my nation’s capital is the place I now call home. Many come for the historic monuments, which stand tall over the Potomac River, breathtaking to behold. The real beauty lies in its unique identity, with its culture shaped by the best of America’s north and south and its architecture a reflection of European influences. In this city of suburbs, the neighborhoods change like the colors of the homes that line the streets in rows. From students to senators, life-long residents to temporary transplants, the District has a place for everyone. Esha Kamboj, District of Columbia


Photograph by Steve Leitl, Calgary