- Mr. Speaker, Bud Osborn was an extraordinary leader
- a Song of Hope
- Bud & my partner Sandy Cameron were great friends.
- I am sad and heavy-hearted today
- To a Poet
- From the Library
- A contributor ‘hope[d] this is coherent’.
- ...outed Christy for lying through her teeth.
- Bullshit and Bureaucracy
- Knowledge is Power and Wealth
- Happy Retirement!
- Ode to an Odd Couple
- Shanghai Tan / Shanghai Beach
- Requiem: A Prose Translation
- Wasted Days and Wasted Knights
- Being; Universally
- The Disabled Get Shafted
- You Know You know
- Camino World Peace Project: Basis of Unity in Diversity
- Morning Music
- Breakfast at the Ovaltine
- PIVOT Achieves Victory , Gets Injunction
- Time Travel
- The Albatross’s Lost Poem
- Funding for Help in the DTES Pamphlet
Ms Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, Bud Osborn was an extraordinary leader and activist in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. His death has caused grief and sadness of a magnitude rarely seen.
Bud was a critical part of the struggle for the rights and dignity of drug users. He worked tirelessly for the opening of InSite. When times were dark and people felt hopeless, he gave us hope. When people felt that they had no voice, his poetry raised many voices and gave people courage. When people yearned for belonging and community, he led by example and united people in a common cause for human dignity and respect.
He worked with elected representatives, academics, journalists, and more to stop the madness of the so-called war on drugs. He spoke the truth always and without equivocation. Bud's greatest impact was his life's work for and with those without voice. He showed people that they could speak out, be heard,
and change the course of history.
In the 100 block of East Hastings Street tomorrow, the community will unite to grieve and to celebrate the life of Bud Osborn and what he gave us.
Spoken by Libby in National Parliament in Ottawa.
a Song of Hope
a poem spoken by bud osborn
on november 20, 1998
at Oppenheimer Park
a meeting was held
in a corner of this park
and from that meeting
a drug users organization
got its start
a place to speak our grief
our cruel blues
our suffered truth
a hundred users
in a meeting room a hundred saturdays
latino black white and aboriginal
building a song
from scarred flesh
and courageous souls
choke holds and hep c
a song wrung
from harassment and exclusion misery
a song flown
from the hearts of the last and the least
and multiple abused
a song of hope
you can criminalize our pain
pulverize our human rights
dehumanize us with charity
we are somebody
you can terrorize with hate
demonize with lies
lock us .up
tear us down
you can drive us out of town
we are somebody
and if you can't be who you oughta be
if we aren't who we oughta be
nobody can be anybody
all by themselves
so whether you deny it
or whether you embrace it
we are each others' only brothers and
we are each others' only chance
for a life in common and real beauty
we are all each other has
we are all
I know Bud mostly because he & my partner Sandy Cameron were great friends. Sandy gave Bud a book called The Prophetic Imagination which Bud really liked. It was about how prophets can use poetry to disrupt politics and culture, to reframe the big picture, to understand that my well-being is part of your wellbeing. My partner Sandy was sometimes a prospector and Bud wrote a poem for him called The Prospector Who Found Real Gold and the gold was that book. Bud wrote that Sandy was the “instigator of much of my burned out activism.”
So Bud was a prophet and a poet in the best sense of the words, using his love for every single person, his passions and skills and experiences and his voracious reading to try to make life better for the people whose lives are the hardest. He added the activist part, the 1000 crosses, the demonstrations, the meetings with politicians, to actually be able to accomplish Insite, and a whole changing of attitudes about drug use. Sandy wrote a piece about Bud running for city council called This Bud’s For You. “He is running for city councillor because public service is part of his spiritual and poetic beliefs," wrote Sandy. "He thinks that we are in this world to help each other. He thinks that as we express our grief at the end of this murderous century, we will better understand the difference between what is and what ought to be and will work for a better world."
"The hope that Bud brings is not false hope," Sandy wrote. "It has been refined on the path of suffering. He has cared enough to grieve and in his grieving hopes. Bud wakes us up."
Bud hated gentrification. He hated it so much that in Raise Shit he actually likened “friendly predators like builders, planners, architects, landlords bankers and politicians" to Gilbert Jordan, a serial killer who “seduced bribed and bullied 10 native women into drinking alcohol until they were dead”. And he lamented the condo building across the street from his apartment because it was taking up space that people who had no money used. They would sit out in the lot on a nice day, Bud pointed out to me, but couldn't do it after the condo was built. Bud picketed the Pidgin restaurant because he could see how gentrification was destroying the low-income community he loved.
Bud was great at showing that the low-income community in the DTES has a lot of good things about it, things that people who don't live here can't see. He wrote:
A first nations man recently told me
He had come to the DTES to die
He heard the propaganda that this is only a place of death disease and despair
And since his life had become a hopeless misery
He came here specifically to die
But he said
Since living in the DTES
What with the people he has met
And the groups he has found
He now wants very much to live
And his words go directly
To the heart of what makes for real community
A new life out of apparent death
And this is what we speak and live
With our words our weapons
In the months before his death, Bud talked to me a lot about unity. He really hoped our community could become unified in fighting for harm reduction, ending prohibition, ending gentrification, getting more social housing and higher welfare rates. Several times he told me, when he was active he had a principle of never badmouthing any group working in the DTES.
Before he died my partner Sandy wrote a poem called We Need a New Map. I love Bud's poem Raise Shit and want to go over it and over it and try to figure out how we could use the elements in it to make a new map.
Love would be a huge part of the new map, Bud wrote
"Love not as passive abstraction or commodity privatized
as fiery personal and collective social justice passion
love as in our public celebrations
love as in our public grieving
love going past fatigue again
love taking risks in the face of uncertainty
love as stubbornness sticking to community principles
love as willingness to go one more length
to make one more leaflet
Love and unity.
I’m so grateful that Bud left so many poems. I’m thinking that the way we can make sure he is remembered is by using love and unity to figure out how to save his beloved DTES and make a better world.
[spoken by] Jean Swanson
I am sad and heavy-hearted today - and I don't want to have to say goodbye to Bud, because I am not ready ... There are things that Bud still needed to do ... stories he had left to tell, grievances to air, coffee to drink, poems to write .. hands to hold .... and words of encouragement to bring in the dark ...
But I am really glad to be able to come together today -at this moment in the community’s history - with Bud as the axis point that we are all turning around - in our hearts, in our thoughts, and in our prayers or meditations.
As we all struggle to come to terms with the limits of our individual and collective humanity - Bud is a reminder of the enormous beauty, love and resilience people bring each day to losses, sadness and injustice faced in our community.
Today we are here because of a loss. And being together - with Bud as the axis point around which our thoughts and our hearts are turning.. in spite of this loss means that we can be stronger - and stronger to resist the dark forces.
Bud was a grounding force - in my life. I met him in the early 90's. I found his friendship and his presence inspiring, challenging and motivating but also just honest and loving. He was a beautiful friend. My favorite memory of sitting with Bud was in the Radio Station cafe one morning last year - a steady stream of people popped in and said hi, as we sat in the window - there was story after story - a woman with an open wound on her scalp being followed by Darwin bandaging her up - another, showing off his new teeth - we were there for three hours and time flew by - but the reason it’s one of my favourite memories is because of how during these three hours Bud reflected with me on the fact that in spite of everything that could have happened - we could sit here, in the radio station cafe - for three hours - and the community still exists - it seemed miraculous in that unbelievable moment that this Downtown Eastside community that has risen up time and time again - overcome challenges, fought off extinction and survived & thrived against the interests of those who failed to see its love, magic and its beauty. Bud was so proud of this simple victory - this space that was occupied - against all of the odds ...
At the old Portland in the early 90's Bud led a writing group in the fire exit stairwell - and in those early days we often met together - and talked about the craziness around us. In our attempts to challenge the status quo it was not uncommon for us to feel as though our voices had been drowned out by the prevailing mainstream logic of the day - a logic that seemed to reframe everything we knew and loved - a logic that had no joy in its soul -
It was OK for drug users not to get stable housing because they were expected to earn the right first - by being housing ready; The squalid living conditions people found themselves in were not viewed as unjust, but rather those living in them were viewed as responsible - the very people suffering most among us were viewed as responsible for so many social problems it was hard to keep up ....
You had to exchange needles because addicts couldn't be trusted - the general feeling of despair on the streets and the death and the suffering and the disease .... These were injustices not seen as being created by an unjust system - but rather the logical consequences of poor behavior conducted by bad people - people seen as less than human - people seen as undeserving.
Bud only saw human beings and this massive injustice broke his heart- and when Bud said enough was enough - it was because it was. When Bud said it was time to act - It was because it was - We had waited too long and too many people died- and Bud's intolerance forced many of us to act. That intolerance led to the fight for Insite and that intolerance and his powerful words saved many lives as a result.
When a woman I knew named Linda died - I found her body in her room - as she had passed away from Cirrhosis after years of drinking rice wine - and I was heartbroken. Linda was beautiful. I asked Bud to write a poem for her memorial service which I'm going to share with you. Bud didn't know Linda, but after I described her to him, he recalled seeing her at a community event ....
This is a poem that I have shared many times - and really Bud's words speak for themselves, but today - with Bud being the axis point around whom our hearts are turning - I hope his words can ease some of the sadness and remind us of where our strength lies – in each other.
I heard her tear the air with rage that let
Rage that let the streets of displacement know
Rage that let the buildings of exclusion know
That an insult and an indignity and an injustice
Has been done to a human being
I heard her voice
On behalf of those who are marginalized
On behalf of those who are stigmatized
On behalf of those of us who make
Careful and accommodating protests
And on behalf of those who suffer silently
From the general cover up
I heard linda tear the air with rage
I saw her pierce the air with stature
Like a noble and magnificent tree
That made me think of emily carr's painting
"scorned as timber, beloved of the sky"
and during a demonstration at carroll and
against the condominium invasion of our
a demonstration at which
several children were carrying placards
I saw linda smile at those children
And bend towards them to embrace them
As though a noble and magnificent tree
Full of birds singing the birth of love and care
Were bestowing gentleness and kindness
Upon those children
Who were glowing because of that smile
I saw linda pierce the air with stature
We need you
To remember us in our best moments
Our strongest moments
Our self sacrificing moments
We need you
To care for us as we struggle to defend
Each and every hard pressed human being
In our hard hit but holy community
We need you
To bear with us
When we are impatient and unsure
Of what to do or how to help
We need you
To help us rage
Against the conspiracies of displacement and
And need you to strengthen us
When fatigue and fear grips our courage and
And immobilizes us
We need you
To stand tall for us
When we are bowed and bent
Beneath the blows of contemporary brutality
We need you
To look upon us in our sadness and loss
As you looked upon those children
At the corner of carroll and cordova
Because our lives
So often so dark
So desperately need the light
You bestowed upon those children
Bestowed as a noble and magnificent human
Like birds singing
The birth of love and care
Linda we miss you
In our need
[spoken by] Liz Evans
To a Poet
When a poet passes over
There is an audible hush in the world
as if all the words that ever spilled from
the poet’s mouth
were given pause in tribute
to one who lived a life steeped in words
precisely rearranged to illuminate
the darkest corners of the soul.
When a poet passes over who was much
admired and respected there is
an attendant rush of praise song and brilliant adjectives that elevate the sense of loss that something unique & precious as the poet’s
has been taken from us but
what wasw given over a lifetime is
how much more can we bear to feel and
where do the words hide?
When a poet passes over not only admired & respected but who is known and loved
as someone who was generous and kind
as well as articulate & fearless
in all the ways that count
a friend to all who claimed him
ambassador of our neighbourhood
your words WILL NOT BE LOST
but taken up and carried forward
by those who found, in your voice,
not strangeness but a resonance
with the universal truth that has the power
to transform our shame into something
strong and enduring
From the Library
Hello! I am excited to have this chance to introduce myself to all the Carnegie Newsletter readers. My name is Erin Rickbeil and I am the acting branch head here at the Carnegie Branch until a permanent branch head is in place, mid-June. I have spent the past few years working in the Digital Services department at VPL, so I am very much enjoying being in a branch again, meeting new people and learning many things. Please feel free to come by, say hello and share your thoughts, hopes, dreams for the library. I hope we get a chance to meet.
In the display case this week we have a collection of new titles, including the lovely Hope in Shadows book and a very interesting looking history of Vancouver called Vancouver is Ashes, which tells the story of the great fire of 1886.
If you are looking to discover something new you should come in and explore our newest display, which recommends books based only on the colour of their cover!
A contributor ‘hope[d] this is coherent’. This came to
mind for the reply:
Coherence is a loose term here. I was volunteering as the cashier for the concession on the 2nd floor some years back. A subconscious arrogance came through when, with the menu/chalkboard right behind me, I’d respond with an almost dismissive sneer when adults would get to the front of the line and say, “What’s on today?” or “What kind of sandwiches do you have?” The answer: “It’s on the board!”
There was a lull and a guy about 40-45 came up and asked the sandwich question; the response; then a kitchen staff person walked up beside him and read them out for him. He was relieved and she was civil and warm with the man. It suddenly dawned on me that the guy couldn’t read. It was real – reading in books that there is a percentage of Canadian adults who are functionally illiterate was an unremarkable intellectual event (definitely small ‘e’). To meet someone who had to make his way – reflection had him waiting for a lull.. asking a simple question.. getting through without having to say “I'm not a reader”.. all likely constant occurrences. It humbles you.
I don’t write as though for Grade-school readers, but keep it in mind that everyone turning the pages might just be looking at the art or trying to find a simple piece to see if s/he could read it.
Welcome to the Downtown Eastside. I’ve heard that between 1/5 and 1/4 of the people here are not literate or have very limited skills. There’s a Literacy Roundtable you might look into.
[Christy Clark presided at a conference of the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry poised to extract (fracking), ship tp ports (pipelines) and sell outside Canada (tankers). maryinga is an Aboriginal woman from northern BC who was there with a number of reps from Tribal 8 who outed Christy for lying through her teeth. This was on her blog.]
It is truly fitting that Ms Clark sits on stage beside the Shell Oil representative. Truly one of the evil corporations of the fossil fool business. Do a bit of research into Nigeria, the Niger Delta horror and the history of what they did to leading environmentalists there some 20 years ago.....connect the dots between the terrorism Nigeria is living with now, and the devastation of their tribal lands due to the 'economic boom' brought to them courtesy of Big Oil. The name Ken Saro-Wiwa mean anything to anyone? An indigenous writer and activist framed and hanged for his opposition to Shell and their buddies.
The boom never benefits the people who live where the resource is: and telling ourselves 'just so' stories that it is going to do so in the case of our indigenous people is ignorant at best (we carefully keep ourselves in the dark concerning multinational extractivist activity in the third world), and dishonest at the most cynically worst. Chris Hedges talks about that dishonesty in his new book "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt". The extractivist corporations create 'sacrifice zones' and speak of them as such: Check out Mountain top removal in the Appalachians: it looks like the Tar Sands of Alberta...and coming soon, to a pristine wilderness near you, LNG developments:
Which means large scale fracking, water poisoning on a massive scale......and forgive me, but those big boats with the bubble tops????? Are they not carrying an inherently EXPLOSIVE substance, held under pressure so it becomes, UNNATURALLY, a liquid?
What do we understand by the phrase, "An accident waiting to Happen"? Looks like one to me, and it will make Lac Magantic look like small potatoes......and again....no one will have seen it coming!!!
We need to wake up and wake up soon: even without climate change, no one lives in the lands devestated by what these companies need to do now to extract the dirty oil and gas that's left.....and get it to market. They become dead zones: sacrifice zones, and the people who used to live there..... collateral damage.
Bullshit and Bureaucracy
Yeah, that time again
Not quite 1984, however there are similarities
I suspect they are even in the toilet
Le toilette, the last bastion of privacy
Even the gymnasium is the territory of
Basketballs can be thrown with enough force
to frighten and to hurt
The shower can be a hidey hole for a short time
No limit on hot water and time.
Many thanks to the Romans for heated floors
And all that steam.
Even the gods envied the citizens of Ancient Rome.
So in April we sweated in our overheated dormitories
At the end of May we shiver in the clammy rooms.
The stink of swamp gas is in the air
Hot summer nights so close to the old sewers
The wind changes the atmosphere changes
Moods change psychotropically
The church of the Christian god is under siege
A stake’s been driven into the very marrow of belief
St, Thomas, the doubting one, is holding forth.
And down the road I may move into an apartment
next to a chicken abattoir
The stink mayor may not intrude
Depending on the Wind
On the beach at crab park the stink of hi-octane
fumes caress the air
The grass is green; the sky is blue.
Wilhelmina MilesKnowledge is Power and Wealth
Knowledge is Power and Wealth
Since Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister in Britain in 1979, and Ronald Reagan was elected President in the United States in 1980, there has not only been a relentless –though often hidden- attack by the right-wing on the middle-class and unions but also all else which the middle-class supports and cherishes. One of these the middle-class holds dear is education.
With the BC Liberals, public (taxpayer) funding of private schoolsas of 2004 has been $156 million with so-called Group 2 schools receiving 50% of that amount. The funding of the public school system has increased in the span to 2014 from $2.08 billion to $4.12 billion. And, as is morally fair and proper, public funding of public schools is acceptable whereas public funding of private schools is not, especially when the parents of virtually all those attending private schools can afford-in-full the cost of a private school education. Indeed, why should the public pay for private school education unless it’s the Government (among other interests) which has other ends in mind?
As for the cost of a post-secondary education in a BC university or research schooling, it went up to an average of $4-5 thousand in 2013-2014 (from $2.1 thousand in 2001). And while an annual increase of only 2% has been allowed by a BC Liberal sanctioned law since 2007 it is quite obvious that a higher education is easily available to the already well-to-do.. who will most likely become tomorrow’s rightwing political and capitalist economic leaders. Is this the purpose or end-in-mind of the BC Liberals? …besides the disempowerment and ultimate destruction of the fortress of the middle-class and unions.
Just ask the members of the BC Teachers Federation!
By Harry SchorneckHappy Retirement!
You and countless others … too many to count, have walked by her every day for the past 32 years. She sits there quietly and unassuming, though always present (she doesn’t miss a thing). She knows just about everyone who walks through the doors of Carnegie by name. Always ready to offer her assistance, provide information or just listen patiently and without judgment. A friend and a colleague to many around here and in case you didn’t know, she is retiring after 32 years. My message to all is short and sweet, as I am talking about Kim Dugray … who is also short and sweet. Kim, you will be missed, but not forgotten. We wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life. Happy Retirement!
Sharon Belli, Assistant Director
Carnegie Community Centre
Ode to an Odd Couple
He is OCD about his BMI,
And is basically a slob;
She is OCD about cleanliness,
And is basically a blob.
They are mental health consumers,
Keeping psychosis at bay;
He loves his medication,
As for her, she won't say.
Not particularly shy,
They discuss their situations;
Reserved to an extent,
Not wanting complications.
Her face an ageless wonder,
His like a worn out old shoe;
Her with career aspirations,
Him just trying to make do.
Each in their own palace,
Their home sweet home;
They live worlds apart,
A pretty lady and a gnome.
Life is always an inspiration and,
Poetic license has been taken;
Thinking you know this couple,
Will surely have you mistaken
“You’ve got to pick up every stitch” – Donovan
“Because I know what it means..” – Whitesnake
“It is very precise, delicate and fragile. It involves a long, long honing.” – Chief Seattle
On May 16th, 2014 at Oppenheimer Park Bud Osborn lay down his burdens. As I understood there were 2000 petals on the grass. Three eagles were gliding overhead at the time. I did not understand about Bud until I got back to my room, for which I apologise. –The Happy Caterpillar
Note: The happy caterpillar read the brochure about the butterfly-thing and respectfully declines to participate. This decision was made in solidarity with the Troops for Trudi Chase. (See When Rabbit Howls by same. While reading have someone who loves you with you while you’re reading until you’re finished.)
The happy caterpillar guarantees you will never read a more inspiring book. And hey, watch where you step! (Ha Ha)
Update On My Animals
Not only do my animals not listen to a word I say, they don’t tell me anything either. When the elephant (my memories) accidently stepped on the turtle (my pain management), killing it instantly, it continued on as if… I don’t know what.
The starfish (cries for me) is back in the water, crying from a distance. I assume the reason the albatross (writes poems) hasn’t fucking left yet may be because that would leave elephant alone. Hence, caterpillar (humour).
Finally, for a wile an injured wolf was lurking around but left after its injury(s) healed. And yet, it did eat the turtle. So what? Not by word, thought or deed did my animals or I intimate the wolf belonged with us.
It happens to be part of the stone cold truth that all
boundaries, all boundaries pass through my dead heart
Are we having fun yet? Just so we’re clear, the happy
caterpillar wrote fruition, not the albatross.
(Such Beautiful Words)
Shanghai Tan / Shanghai Beach
Themesong from "The Bund"
Rushing waves, flowing waves
Thousand miles of the torrential river flows
Washed away the worldly affairs
Torrential mixing of the tidal currents
is it happiness? is it sorrow?
Hard to differentiate between happiness
and sorrow in the waves
Hard to see in the waves
Love you, hate you
Asked you if you know
Like a giant river, once distributed will
not be withdrawn
Passed by in many bays
Passed by many beaches
Still not yet to suppress these struggles
Both happiness and sorrow
Unable to differentiate between them
Still wishing to overcome these waves
My heart has enough of those rises and falls
Still wishing to overcome these waves
My heart has enough of those rises and falls
Submitted by Carl MacDonald.Requiem: A Prose Translation
Requiem: A Prose Translation
Although we are sad Bud Osborn has just died, the vibrancy of his lingering spirit is so strong that not only will it be with us always, but even more – and unlike the equally noble and doggedly determined, pure-of-heart Don Quixote. Even the delusions Bud had (about the future of the Downtown Eastside) WILL BE REALIZED!!
Note: For when you allude to something (the novel Don Quixote) you can both compare what is alike (nobility etc) and contrast what is different (intact windmills/[ulverised windmills) at the same time.
I trust this clears up any misunderstanding(s) and therefore offense some may have taken, about what my poem was saying about our man of La Mancha.
-just call me Sancho #735
Wasted Days and Wasted Knights
The horns of my dilemma grow heavy
Velvet on antler
Marvellous moss spongy, intricately designed
Light yellow green and soft in the woods
Under the spreading green of hardwood trees.
Halifax in my blood rather than on my mind
My old mother, her other daughters and my brothers
Abraham and Cyril
All retired except Loraine the baby sister
An expert in a very different field.
The smell of Halifax Harbour, salty, fishy and
the decomposition of small sea creatures
Tiny crabshells in the sand among the rocks
Purplish mussel shells, bits of green glass
worn smooth and opaque
Huge blobs of kelp and further down
Spanish moss rich in iodine (dulce, we called it)
The creak and sway of masts moored
by the old privateer’s warehouse.
Captain Susan’s big green parrots
Greeting ladies with licentious tongues & rolling eyes
The Windjammer Motel
Great sundeck for white wine & escargots
Lobster tails or the whole enchilada
French bread dripping garlic butter
Finger bowls –
And on the Hill – Citadel Hill –
The Olde Town Clock
Always on time
The moat long dried up – musty ‘uniforms’
in glass cases
The Noon Gun.
The Natives never attacked the fort
Loyal to the “Great White Mother” Victoria
In time The Black Robed Boys became
the ones to be feared
The scourge spread westward to the Pacific
The lust for beaver and otter pelts to adorn
the European dandies
Ermine to trim the Royal Robes
Turning back now – running into history
Running into memories – real and selected
Time bringing resonance, reverberance
and some kind of knowledge
A great gift or a small curse
Neighbours, friends, acquaintances intermingling for the betterment of community, comparing notes, thoughts, dreams. Sharing and caring for each other – where there’s a way there’s a means, whether it be about your children, relatives or ancestry. Leaning over fences, balconies, maybe sitting on a porch (kind of rare these days). Block parties, barbeques, birthday celebrations, all kind of cool I think. And people are more busy than ever, speaking more ethereal & otherworldly speaking spiritually with spiritual advisors
The Creator & Mother Earth..grandparents & Elders.. all manner of family ties mixed with loves & other strangers: citizens of the world; free or otherwise. You will meet many of them, sooner or later, for love or for love’s sake. It’s like an otherworldly contagion that’s immediate and understood as part of a greater plan unscripted yet divine, always authentic always true. So take all this easy.. take it as it comes –a never ending adventure in humanity. Enjoy the ride!
ROBYN LIVINGSTONE. The Disabled Get Shafted
The Disabled Get Shafted
“Nearly 95,000 British Columbians are just barely getting by.” So said B.C. Auditor General Russ Jones recently in a report about disabled people living on a BC government payout. The actual monthly payment comes to a small $905 a month, and very few people can live on this.
"People on welfare have it even worse," a welfare recipient told me. I agree for he was surviving on just $605 a month. Both of these payments, and those to single parents on welfare, haven't been raised for over seven years. And right now, there's no sign that they will be.
Stephanie Cadieux, who's B.C. Minister of Social Development, responded to the Auditor General's report by promising increases for the disabled. "But only," she said in effect, "when the economy improves." That could be a long way off.
Which brings me to Norm Levi, the English-born Minister of Human Resources in Dave Barrett's short lived N.D.P. government of 1972 to 1975. Levi, and his then-wife Gloria (plus a few other NDP'ers) worked long and hard through 1970 and 1971, sketching out a new income support system for the disabled and seniors. When the N.D.P. won the 1972 election, the new premier Dave Barrett appointed Levi to be responsible for welfare and social services in B.C.
Levi brought in a new support system for seniors, a handicapped pension for the disabled along with a yearly bus pass and a raise for those on welfare totalling a forty per cent increase.
"Dave Barrett's government was really good to people on welfare," a Downtown Eastside resident said a few months ago.
Levi also set up elected resource boards to administer welfare in various areas of the province.
But the Social Credit Party under their new leader Bill Bennett took aim at these and other N.D.P. policies. Bennett denounced Barrett's government as one of "waste, welfare and bureaucracy."
The son of long time premier W.A.C. Bennett, Bill Bennett won the B.C. election in 1975. He scrapped many of the N.D.P. reforms during his 11 years in power. The Liberal governments of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark have just continued Bennett's policies into the 21st century.
And the N.D.P. of today want little to do with people on welfare. New N.D.P. leader John Horgan has rightly denounced the Liberal Clark government for taking child support payments away from parents on welfare. Yet Horgan says nothing publicly about B.C.'s pitifully low payments to people on disability or welfare.
Yet Levi's disabled program still survives, albeit in a very shrunken form. When the N.D.P. went down to defeat in December of 1975, 7,000 people got disability payments. That number now stands at over 50,000. And 40 years ago, only 9,000 people got a yearly bus pass. To-day 90,000 people do. These are a tremendous increases, considering that in the past 40 years B.C.'s population has just doubled in size.
"I love my bus pass," a low income senior said recently. "I couldn't survive without it." Hopefully the B.C. government won't scrap that very important benefit - at least for now.
By Dave Jaffe
You Know You know
Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing
faced with the choice whether to pay
what you know you owe
but, you know, hard to give it up
what you know deep down in your soul
what you know you oughta do
shouldn’t even be a dilemma
but the flesh is weak the brain is soft
and sometimes we forget (all too often, eh?)
how good we really got it
Brutha: people help you out
now you got some kind of problem (come on)
giving back to those who gave to you
Give your head a shake, my good man
Oughta be damn grateful, humbled
Someone gave fux about you in the 1st place
So MAN UP PAY UP GROW UP
Don’t be no downtown cracker, y’hear!
ALREADY GOT PLENTY OF THOSE
Camino World Peace Project
Basis of Unity in Diversity
You may have noticed that there is something terribly wrong with the way things are going, all over the world. It is alarmingly obvious that the dominant systems held in place by a power structure that is crumbling, are incapable of providing for the people who rely on them.
History reminds us of the pattern of civilizations.
At this stage of the cycle, we still have a few options. We can cling to the scant security offered us by the multinational and government corporations> we can continue to engage in the fierce competition for resources, prestige and power>we can opt out and cobble a living from handouts and leftovers>we can zombify ourselves>we can buy into the apocalypse being prepared for us by our friendly sponsors> OR we can turn to each other with compassion, and begin to arrange a system that will honor the wisdom, dignity and individuality of our diverse world populations and our common interests.
We have a window of opportunity, a little time left to begin to reverse the unsustainable, idiotic policies of extinction that threaten us all.
What we really need now is a way of bridging the gap between the precarious mess that we are in, and the visionary dream of a new way of ordering things that is based not on hierarchy, fear and coercion, that does not condemn us to war, but is designed to nurture and allow each other to live in peace.
It's a big undertaking that we have been told is impossible, but it could be simple if we can take the time and care to determine our most urgent priorities. Without a shot being fired, we could transform the way we live, to create a world hospitable to all life, free of the terror and unbearable stresses that we have accreted as the way things are. Think about the way things could be.
Now is the time to begin to carefully dismantle the obsolete systems that have been hampering creative alternatives. We can start by stopping all harmful practices, and doing away with the most obvious forms of oppression. We can learn from the mistakes of the past as we consult with those who are already devising sustainable practices in their communities. Organic gardeners and permaculturists, architects and engineers, community activists and members of co-ops, squatters who fabricate homes in decaying structures from discarded materials rescued from scrap heaps, artisans and carpenters and healers, children and elders: everybody will be needed if we are to disengage ourselves from the traps that are choking us.
If we can see our way to dispense with artificial boundaries and the vagaries of monopoly capitalism, a lot of problems could begin to solve themselves. The accepted notion of private property needs adjustment. We know that real estate is not real. Our task now is to devise a way to live in harmony, not as owners but as caretakers of the land. Obviously, the mass production of weapons and the reliance on toxic chemicals must discontinue. Together, we need to decide, what we need and what we want to keep. Let the banks be redesigned to house the homeless, let those who have been displaced and dispersed lead the way in devising communities of mutual interest. Let the music of the world guide us as it already has linked us in imagination.
Even tho shit always happens
avoid the HIV cancer gets you anyway
still all in all I gotta way
It’s good to be alive today
I'm grateful for my mama & friends & people I know
make it all worthwhile, all the getting thru
we all gotta do, day to day, year to year
It don’t always shine, I know too well
Rain’ll come on a sunny day
Take it any which way you like
I am glad to be alive today
Game’s over ‘fore ya really know how to play
Say what you will
Glad to be alive today
Go on have it your was
Just glad to be alive today
My scriptures are worth a thousand silent words or less these tales from the script screw things and people up it is really quite a mess so many rooms for error I kid you not, take the military (anyone please) as post traumatic stress officers getting evicted now she and her husband are the victims yet they face homelessness the war on drugs let alone the war on war itself is so predictive join me at the end of the river – it’s all we got – like a Muppet death squad or immortality pension benefits What is it you believe? Have you been to your doctor good ones do exist but most are out there just to screw you up and then leave can you duplicate the silence the end of the river is where I awake,
I have tried getting high on life Wow what a bloody boring high Saint Minus once said, “it is a glory to all senses in search of that which is the nod” Everyday is 24 more hours which sooner than before distance myself from all others how much of this progressive waste can I endure before my speeding car becomes airborne now I can SOAR but I guess it takes time to see how much time you can take, like being voted Not Likely to Die in an Olympic Torch-Bearing Fire Accident hey if crooks, thieves and liars can run for Prime Minister, Governors and Presidents I could become a storm-seller I work well with others though you’d never hear it from Them, if I can sell Jenny Craig franchises in Africa or a fleet of firetrucks to Iceland would that do!? In other words would that match up to the likes of you cuz you’re the exception to every set of rules this is where I SOAR above every face of human cancer and racism, anger and this mass insanity called war
These are the ‘just woke up’ awards as another day vanishes into a roar and another has begun a madman’s work is never done again, good deeds going unnoticed reality remains unfocused as the sum of all scum rears its filth-encrusted soon-to-be-chopped off head as the Stormseller offers life-altering giftshops while you wait –he can get you to wherever it is you are going sooner than before (you will never be late!)
-as for death if there’s a cure you just acquired it from your new best friend, at least until your stormcellar is ripped from the ground by winds and up-to-your-neck rain, when one catastrophe after another seems to be screaming your name you know that this storm-seller will sell right to the bitter end, like selling dead memories by the seashore and other Fols Stories outlawed since you were told who you are nudist colonies in Saudi Arabia are under fire yet overcooked flights disappear yet are still overbooked it is so true a madman’s work is never never done, now that we are in the future I can believe in anything but I shall never believe in everything like an Islamic extremist who whispers fire in an almost empty theatre Does the future you have mapped out for yourself really have yourself somewhere in there like a clear and present stranger I shall SOAR above the next Ice Age let alone all the pretty fires the stormseller be off as only those in need of anything knows he has just begun.
By ROBERT McGILLIVRAY
Q: “Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.” -Samuel Butler
Breakfast at the Ovaltine
It’s May twenty-eight and payday
An extra waitress on duty
She doesn’t know I take marmalade
And hot water.
Native girl gets up and pours three
cups of coffee for her table
I jokingly ask her for more coffee
She laughs and can’t find the sugar
I tell her where it is.
Not really hungry but cold, so cold
Despite the fact I’m wearing a sheepskin coat
Like this last June
Too cold for comfort in bed
Metal and hot water
I get warmer in the shower
However, it is morning on skid row
Energy coming with the Sun and coffee
We have Great Expectations for the
Afternoon and Thursday.
WilhelminaPIVOT Achieves Victory , Gets Injunction
PIVOT Achieves Victory , Gets Injunction
This morning, 29 May 2014, the BC Supreme Court released an interim order in the case of Providence Health Care Society, Deborah Bartosch, Charles English, Douglas Lidstrom, Larry Love and David Murray v. Attorney General of Canada. Former patients from the SALOME (Study to Assess Long-term Opioid Maintenance Effectiveness) clinical trial sought an injunction against the federal government, which introduced new regulations last fall that prevent patients from continuing to receive heroin-assisted treatment to treat their opiate addictions. The BC Supreme Court agreed that patients in the study, who are people who have struggled with chronic and relapsing opioid addiction, would be exposed to imminent harm if they were deprived of access to pharmaceutical heroin administered under medical supervision.
On that basis, he granted the injunction.
Five patients (represented by Pivot Legal Society) and Providence Health Care launched the case when the federal Minster of Health, Rona Ambrose, took steps to impede Health Canada’s approval of prescription diacetylmorphine (heroin) for a small group of Vancouver patients. Today’s order is the result of an interim injunction application brought by Providence and the patients to ensure that they, and other patients at the clinic, would continue to receive their physician-approved treatment while the case is being heard.
Adrienne Smith, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society who represents the five plaintiffs, said, “Medical decisions about drug use and addiction should be made by medical experts. We are hopeful that the regulations will ultimately be struck down, and our clients will continue to receive the medical care their doctors have advised for them.”
“Winning this injunction is a very important and life-saving step in this litigation because our clients will get access to the treatment that they desperately need,” says Angela Juba, legal counsel for the five SALOME patients. “When we go to trial, we will argue that restricting access to prescription heroin in cases where it is medically recommended violates the life, security of the person and equality rights of people living with the chronic and relapsing disease of addiction.”
For people who have not had success with conventional opiate treatments, this decision is as a major victory. In the wake of today’s decision, the applicants in the BC case are looking forward to working with their physicians to get back on track with their medical treatment.
In his decision, the Chief Justice refers to the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in Insite & writes:
“The evidence proffered by the plaintiffs is similar to that accepted in PHS [Portland Hotel Society] Community Services Society. That evidence is that drug addiction is a chronic disease and can be progressive, relapsing, and fatal, and that there are persons in British Columbia who have opioid addictions but who are refractory to presently available treatment for their addiction. The evidence is also that the risks of opioid dependence that is maintained by the use of illicit street drugs include fatal overdoses (which can be caused by the substitution of other substances for the drugs the user believes he or she has purchased, unknown strengths of such drugs, or the adulteration of such drugs), infections such as endocarditis, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C, social disintegration, violence and criminal sanctions.…. I accept that the potential harms facing the personal plaintiffs, and those on whose behalf they apply, are grave and that an award of damages will be of little, if any, assistance to them. As such those harms must weigh heavily in the balance, particularly given that the exemption requested by the applicants does not cause any material harm to the government pending the ultimate resolution of this matter at trial.”
Contact: Adrienne Smith (Pivot) 778 866 6952 and/or go to www.pivotlegal.org for the full decision.
Send me from each moment
only its promise.
I’ll find my own way back.
The Albatross’s Lost Poem
Brethren, others. Believe otherness,
brace otherness. Breathe. Otherness
belongs. Observe. Bring order, beauty:
[Following the exchange below, the City of Vancouver has found $2500 in the Great Beginnings money. It’s a one-
time thing, but gives 6-8 months to find another pot of money somewhere. As Lisa remarked, “It’s an election year!]
From: Wanklin, Tom [Tom.Wanklin@vancouver.ca]
Sent: May-05-14 5:40 PM
Subject: Funding for Help in the DTES Pamphlet
I am responding to your letter addressed to the Mayor concerning the need for assistance towards the costs of printing the Help in the DTES Pamphlet. Department of Community Services is currently investigating availability of funds within city budgets and will get back to you as soon as possible. The pamphlet is a great community resource and is also valuable for newcomers, visitors and residents and the ongoing sustainability of future print runs is critical. With this in mind, it is asked if consideration could be given to approaching the BIA’s to explore whether your pamphlet could be a marketing platform for local businesses and the local products. We wonder if businesses may be interested in sponsoring adverts in the publication in future.
It is suggested this may generate revenue for printing costs and the community and visitors alike would have additional benefit of knowing more about what products are available in the local shops and industries. A collaborative effort between your association and the BIA’s could also become a useful ‘mouthpiece’ for local community economic development.
Please give this some thought and advise if you would be interested in taking this idea up with the BIA’s. We could assist by supplying the contact details of possible BIA personnel to contact.
TOM WANKLIN, RTPI
Senior Planner, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhoods Group
Central Area Planning, City of Vancouver, 604 673 8288
If businesses that are useful to low-income people want to be listed, this idea could have merit. However, the local BIAs have consistently made efforts to degrade, dehumanise and vilify local residents for their poverty or lack of spending power. The Gastown BIA went so far as to harass Phillip Owen when he was mayor, resulting in a 90-day moratorium on anything that would, in the BIA’s words, “Aid and abet the drug-using population.” This was at the time of opening 2 clinics and the Skills Centre (now the Drug Users Resource Centre) on Cordova. They came to a public meeting and read their manifesto, while having immediately preceded it with “We are too intimidated and safety-conscious to engage in any conversations or take any questions.” Following their last word, they up and walked out en masse.
If you want to do all the contact and get the funds together, go ahead. I will not talk to people who have been undermining all community efforts for years. It is also a sign of faulty reasoning – or just thinking I am so stupid that I will trust you after the stabbing in the back perpetrated by the just-finished Local Area Plan.
That the Mayor shunts this to you is kind of sad. Help in the Downtown Eastside has been critical to the functioning of the Downtown Eastside community since 1991; I’ve produced it as a volunteer; I’ve raised the funds every time for 46 editions. I asked him to contribute two and a half thousand tax-deductible dollars. He wants to take it over and make it part of the gentrification already seen as a done deal. And he doesn’t have the decency to respond with a personal ‘no.’ (or, maybe more heartfelt, a ‘fuck you.’).
PaulR Taylor, editor