- National Aboriginal Week at Carnegie Centre & Oppenheimer Park
- IN THE SPIRIT OF STRENGTH, HOPE & UNITY
- How much of our environment are we consciously willing to destroy?
- My dear Mother Earth
- Stars Ride Buses
- Small Pleasure
- for Jackie
- Monthly Speaker Series: “Beautiful lies: Poetry and meaning”
- From the Library...
- A Bus Driver Who Votes Liberal
- The Hymn Factory: Something We Became
- Directors Annual Report
- take back space
- My love is
- POSTAL CODE READINGS
- Carnegie Community Centre
Monday June 16th
10am-2pm Aboriginal Resource and Information Fair: Carnegie Gym
Booths by Aboriginal Wellness Program, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services, AFD,
Aboriginal Community Policing Society, BC Responsible Gambling Program and more
3:30pm-9pm Celebration Feast: Carnegie Theatre (Cultural Sharing Program)
Entertainment & Food!
Wednesday June 18th
7pm Cease Wyss: Carnegie Theatre
Skwxw'u7mesh ethnobotanist, artist, educator & food security activist
Friday June 20th
5pm-8pm Art opening, “Mixed Media Cultures” 3rd floor Atrium
Carnegie Centre Aboriginal Artisan Program;
Refreshments and Entertainment! Everyone welcome!
Saturday June 21st
10am-4:30pm National Aboriginal Celebrations at Oppenheimer Park (Powell & Jackson)
Food, Entertainment and fun activities for everyone!
IN THE SPIRIT OF STRENGTH, HOPE & UNITY
IN THE SPIRIT OF STRENGTH, HOPE & UNITY
featuring merging aboriginal artists
Wednesday-Sunday, June 14 – June 30, 2014
1 East Hastings
AFN chief asks: How much of our environment are we consciously willing to destroy?
By Mychaylo Prystupa (Vancouver Observer)
With the Natural Resources Minister in front of her, and addressing a packed oil tanker safety summit audience on Musqueam territory, the B.C. lieutenant for the Assembly of First Nations gave a thought-provoking speech on Monday on balancing the environment and energy development.
A major decision on the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline, that has been so controversial with First Nations, is expected any day now.
Here's a portion of what AFN Regional Chief Puglaas (Jody Wilson-Raybould) said:
“We all know [resource development impact on the environment] is an incredibly divisive issue, and currently broad public support is split on moving heavy oil over our land and through our waters.
“For First Nations of course, this is extremely challenging given our attachment of on our land and water."
“Certainly it’s very emotional, and there’s a lot of people playing fast and loose with numbers and potential impacts on the environment of spills, etc.
"But our ability as a country to find balance and to listen to divergent voices, will continue to be put [us] to the test as the debate on natural resource infrastructure continues to heat up over the next week or so and beyond – – finding the right balance between fueling our economy and protecting our environment."
"Few Canadians argue there should be no natural resource development – – where there are divergent perspectives is on the scope and scale to which it takes place, the manner in which it is regulated and, ultimately, who benefits. These are debates First Nations are having internally as well. As a country we have some big decisions to make about our future and we need to be strategic.
"To develop this strategy, we need a more robust conversation about what we mean by sustainable resource development for the future – not just what constitutes so-called “responsible development” today. We need to invest in science and research. And we need to have openness and transparency and clear rules surrounding the conducting of environmental assessments and the approval of major projects.
"Moreover, unlike in the past, Aboriginal governments are going to have a greater say, and it is unlikely major projects will proceed unless Aboriginal interests are taken into account. Which, for most Canadians, I believe, is seen as a welcome addition to this difficult conversation that, in the history books, will define our time.
"But as Canadians, we are not so naïve as to think that somehow we can just turn off the tap and that there are easy choices to be made. Today, leaving aside for a moment the fundamentally important reality of extinguished Aboriginal rights, the Canadian economy is dependent on the natural resource sector – we are a country that digs holes, taps into the natural resources our lands are blessed with and we move and sell them to others.
We all invest in oil sands expansion
"As we know, there are huge energy interests in the energy sector, both domestic and foreign. In fact, and brining it back even closer to home, I doubt there is anyone in this room, who is not personally, directly or indirectly investing in the Tar Sands and pipeline expansion. It is next to impossible to invest in Canadian mutual funds or pension funds including CPP that does not have a portion of the portfolio in oil and gas and the natural resource sector. But that is our system – everything is inter-related. There is simply no black and white.”
“So in thinking about this, about First Nations and about Canada and about what we all want to see 50 years from now, we really need to ask ‘what do we mean by sustainable development? And what sort of reliance will our country have on fossil fuels moving forward?
Global warming is a fact
“There is no question that we are slowly killing the planet, and perhaps not as slowly as we once might have once thought. Global warming is a fact, climate change is a fact, and human impact is a factor.
“Last week’s announcement by President Obama on the new Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce car-
bon emissions in power plants – 30% by 2030 – was very important – the sort of things one can do in a 2nd term.
“Whether or not Keystone or Enbridge will be approved are big looming questions that will chart a significant course in the debate and around our collective future. But beyond that, and looking simply at marine tanker and safety, what is really needed in my view is a global strategy to wean us off our energy dependency on fossil fuels, and therefore to wean us off the financial incentive there is from exploiting the resource. Technology is, and will improve as we find alternative energy sources. But those who have invested billions, including you and I, in the oil and gas sector are not simply going to watch our investments evaporate as supply for the product diminishes.
Divesting from fossil fuels
“So there will need to be a transition, both in terms of reducing the demand for fossil fuels, while at the same time divesting and moving capital currently employed in exploiting the resources. This is not going to happen overnight, and not all the players on the global stage will be reading from the same script.
“So again we cannot be naïve in our approach, but we can be strategic. We can plan over the next two generations – we will do what we can as a country to ensure sustainable resource development, and gradual weaning off fossil fuels. We can do this by creating an incentive for other investments and become less reliant on natural resource extraction to drive our economy. Our we ready to do this? Our we ready as a country to diversify our economy?”
Aboriginal reconciliation needed
“Finally, and specifically considering our peoples, when it comes to natural resource development, reconciling with Aboriginal peoples has perhaps than in any other area the potential to influence for the better the way we approach governance in Canada. Not only is the evolving law making power of Aboriginal governments unique, being a combination of federal, provincial, municipal and uniquely Aboriginal powers, so to is the geographical distribution of that power.”
“Historically political power in Canada, whether federal or provincial, is weighted in the south where most of us live, and therefore vote. Local communities with their limited governance in rural Canada, have typically had less influence over significant public policy decisions that affect them, and generally keep little of the wealth generated from resource development despite being the most impacted by it.
“However, this is changing, with re-emerging Aboriginal government. People who are attached to live on and survive off the land they live on have their own perspective on land management, and resource exploitation, that can often differ from those who do not, or are just passing through, or are passing investors. This emerging political reality is already beginning to change the way land use planning and decision making is being conducted in Canada, including how governments must share revenues, and how governments must protect the environment.
How many oil tankers are too many?
“So finally, in closing, and thinking about the condo that my husband and I own on the Tsleil-Waututh reserve that over looks Indian Arm and a refinery across the water (on Vancouver's north shore area). I ask myself when I sit on my balcony, and I look up on the website where the tankers are on the tanker traffic website, I ask myself, ‘what will this tanker traffic increases two fold? Or beyond? What are the acceptable levels? What are the safeguards that need to be in place, and at what point is it no longer acceptable? There are no easy answers to these questions. I know the existing oil is going out, but does it really have to expand? And who is benefitting from that expansion? And to what extent?
“Are the risks worth it? And how much of our environment are we consciously willing to destroy?”
My dear Mother Earth
We are destroying her everyday
Our poor animals in our waters
We are having polluted air to breathe
-more every day
Our animals are coming in to the cities
They have no place left to live in the wilderness
Greed is the number one factor
Let us leave the mountains alone
That way animals won’t prey on pets
when they have nothing to hunt for
I don’t pity people who lose pets to the wild
Open your eyes and heart to our wild
Plus Mother Earth!!!
All my relations,
Bonnie E Stevens
Stars Ride Buses
Does it not amaze you
that the sun shines eternally
even when the clouds film over this blue ball
Does it not amaze you
that when the cloud cover rolls in
the mountains are hidden
but stand majestic
without our meaningless gaze
ever brushing that granite face
So it goes with man, things I'm afraid
get by on faith half the time, more
joyous when the universe exerts its power
and the true value of the specks of stardust
we once were and will be again
Get on the B-Line right on time
See the commuters: do they ponder?
the cosmos, the real being we all are
or is ti all just lost
in the tangled jangly mess of traffic
and with all the gusto of the enslaved
energy of slaves someone once said
do they see the stars as I do?
Jesse MichaudSmall Pleasure
With great gusto I thank the cockroach
thanx for letting me kill you
squishing to a dry greasy paste on the wall
on the way here I notice a rotting man
sleeping in a pile of debris on Hastings
his legs burnt by sun & filth, various layers
ooze out this victim’s hatred of life
how long will he rot there?
‘fore they certify him as dead meat
see a lotta folks ready to die, anxious
counting the cheques, saving up their morphine
one dude when warned sooner or later UBDED
says ‘I was hopin’ on sooner,’ trades
his pain pills for crack, he’ll be back
the next morning till one day without warning
he’ll be dead like all the rest in this
never-ending parade of ODs & suicides, murders
makes you wonder, don’t it farmboy
why you even bother hangin’ around
Things you remember most, come haunting me
how the too-hot weather burned tiny fingers
screaming all the way to the hospital
Lucky that girl has always been
how the traffic lulled just a second
on Grandview Hwy just two years old
wandering into traffic, never knew
till Ali yells “That man’s got Jackie!”
dude didn’t wanna give ‘er back
almost had a grand mal heart attack
We moved in 2 days, still shaking
from how close we came
to losing my Jac Attack
god gave me my baby back
Be the thing I miss the most
sound of her sleepy voice
on the phone morning time
Be the one thing I did right
I love my daughter
all my might.
Monthly Speaker Series
Join us every 4th Wednesday of the month for stimu-
lating presentations & discussions by guest speakers.
The talk for June will be:
Poetry and meaning”
with Ted Byrne
Poet, translator & poetry teacher; Writing 101
Wednesday, June 25, 7 – 9 PM
Carnegie Theatre From the Library...
From the Library...
This month the library will be celebrating National Aboriginal History Month! Our display this month will highlight books from our wonderful Aboriginal Collection.
There are also a number of events happening for National Aboriginal History Month that Carnegie Branch is involved in. On Monday June 16th learn more about VPL’s resources, the Storyteller in Residence program, the Aboriginal Collection and more at the Carnegie Centre Information and Resource Day from 10-2. On Wednesday June 18th at 7pm Carnegie Branch is pleased to welcome traditional storyteller & ethno-botanist, T'uy'tanat-Cease Wyss who will be doing an Indigenous Tea Party and Storytelling event in the theatre. Finally, on Saturday June 21st staff will be attending National Aboriginal Day at Oppenheimer Park. Come visit our table, chat with staff and make a button to take home!
In other news, my last day at Carnegie will be June 13th. I want to thank everyone for being so warm, welcoming and helpful to me for the past month. I have very much enjoyed my short time here. I would like to give a big welcome to the new Carnegie Branch Head Natalie Porter, who will be joining the Carnegie Library on June 17th! Please join me in welcoming Natalie.
A Bus Driver Who Votes Liberal
This time last year hundreds of N.D.P.'ers felt like the walking wounded. They thought their party would be governing B.C. After all, the polls before the May 2013 election all showed that the N.D.P. would beat the Christy Clark-led Liberals hands down.
Instead as one N.D.P.'er told me after the votes were counted, "Here we are again in the opposition where we usually end up."
All the way through the election I wasn't convinced that the N.D.P. would win. And one of the main reasons for this belief was a man I'll call Frank.
I've known Frank for over 20 years and he's never voted N.D.P. A big, chunky, grey-haired man, he owns a nice house in the burbs. He's married to a woman who works in the financial sector, And he won't look at the N.D.P
"No way," he told me once. "I vote for free enterprise, not the N.D.P. I
believe in the free enterprise system all the way." Yet here's the important point: Without the N.D.P., Frank wouldn't be a bus driver. And without his union, which always supports the N.D.P., Frank wouldn't be earning the money he does.
Let's go back fifty years or so. In the early 1970's metro Vancouver didn't really have a bus system. Sure trolleys and a few buses ran through Vancouver city. Yet in the burbs only a few buses serviced this growing area. They ran maybe once an hour if that.
Then came Dave Barrett's government which was elected in 1972. Jim Lorimer, a lawyer was appointed B.C.'s first N.D.P. Minister of Municipal Affairs. One of the first things Lorimer did was order close to 100 new buses. Now buses started to run regularly in White Rock, Surrey, Richmond and so on. Also this new bus system needed drivers and they were hired by the hundreds.
Then the B.C. government started to plan for public buses to run in towns and cities across B.C. For as late as 1975, no public buses ran in Chilliwack, Vernon, Abbotsford and other places..To-day they do.
Of course this transit system ran into some bumps on the road . Three times in the past 50 years, bus and trolley drivers hit the picket lines in metro Vancouver. "This is really hurting me," one office worker said in 2001 when a transit workers' strike lasted 15 weeks. She was one of 80,000 transit users who had to find another way to get to work.
Also as the public bus system got shuttled around from B.C. Hydro to Metro Transit Operating Company to B.C. Transit and finally to Translink,problems showed up in the system. fares continued to climb. Sometimes the head honchos of the operating companies liked transit workers. Sometimes they didn't. Buses ran up against traffic jams and couldn't keep up to their schedules. Meanwhile the new Skytrain systems started to suck money away from the bus system. Yet overall as one transit public relations person said about the transit system, "It works."
Through all of these changes, Frank the bus driver did his job. He worked hard, and racked up savings. he and 3,000 other bus drivers benefit to-day from a public transit system, set up by the N.D.P. over 40 years ago. When I told him this he just shrugged and said, "I don't vote N.D.P."
Alas, Frank's not alone. Thousands of people like him who work for government and whose jobs wouldn't exist without the N.D.P., vote Liberal or used to vote Social Credit. Of course there's also thousands of other government workers who do vote N.D.P. Yet it's people like Frank who keeps premiers like Christy Clark in power. I wish I could change but so far I haven't been able to.
By Dave Jaffe
The Hymn Factory: Something We Became
I have held way too many tongues as a roofer coming down a ladder and I know the middle rung has a crack yet I say nothing his wired ears are shut down, just a shadow of my atom-bombed self in any way, shape or formula.. I am to join all the other hymnbooks on the shelf when we hear the laughter we know it’s true aim I may be paranoid but I have been around, like unfinished airports being of minimal concern Flight 370 is gone as others will surely crash & burn is tis something we became OceanBlue OceanView I shall return trust me you are mine as I am yours;
I will just survive not knowing who people are let alone myself I will take a gumball machine full of pills long before Dementia or Alzheimer’s robs me of myself I guess sometimes something we become makes some walk on all fours, the hospitality industry is taking a few years off the Obituaries are always full of celebratory goodbyes and other stuff “I Love You OceanBlue OceanView I would Die For You,” there are days when no one says thank-you, hello or even goodbye aloud of pathetic proportions crawls above the land of oceanview is.. still beautiful words alone will never explain why but for now they still do, like an exception for every ruler and just when you think it can’t get any crueler as for the rights of the forgotten and the dead it just goes by (my oh my it does), like navigating a minefield dressed as Ronald McDonald [do I hear a thousand orders to go?] back in the world that was, like trying to bring 2 groups of selfishists to the negotiating table for the sake of argument the first we will call Cain the other why not Abel if there were no such thing as money they’d still find a reason to kill each other that iss just the way our way is,
We turned our back on nurturing this world it was something we became all boys and all girls the HeartMindSoul & Salvage Company stopped answering our needs and left su with this… oh OceanBlue OceanView he & a friend a couple weeks ago we came down on Mother’s Day to be with you the weather was overcast it was so placid and beautiful –saw my grama & grampa (a couple real good friends) I am so envious but will wait my turn, is it so selfish for someone to jump in line cuz when I begin forgetting who you are let alone me are my expiry dateclock will kick in to count down time that something we became took control over our eternal soulo who gets inducted today wait! I don’t want names or faces just do what you have been doing since time was turned into a two vial container full of sand, I truly will never know what happens after death until it happens mankind is adjourned.
By ROBERT McGILLIVRAY
Q “It was beautiful and simple, as all truly great swindles are.” O. Henry
I only met Bud Osborn once; what a creative force! If only raising shit could raise the dead, my dad, my friends and all other awesomeness could put my mind and its slow eradication to bed. R McG
Directors Annual Report
Reporting year - June 1, 2013 - May 31, 2014
The last year has been a time of hope and frustration and great learning for community members who served on the Local Area Plan committee. The plan, in its final state, may not be everything we would have wished for but it is absolutely reflective of the intelligence and tenacity of the people of this community. At the very least the plan has saved the central part of the DTES as a low income neighbourhood. This would never have happened without the watchful and active minds of those who engaged in the process and who insisted on a plan in the first place.
In 2013,5536 patrons purchased their $1 annual membership to the Carnegie Community Centre Association. Other patrons freely access the Centre and enjoy programs and activities that are open to the whole community and free of charge. The following highlights the work done and programs offered, but does not begin to describe the daily commitment of Carnegie staff, volunteers and Association members:
The Carnegie Outreach team provides the Homeless Outreach Program (HOP) as well as regular patrols of the back lanes and streets to provide harm reduction supports. HOP is a fast track program to get homeless people onto welfare and into housing, with Approximately 400 individuals assisted into housing in 20 13.The team is expanding to respond city wide and has taken on the responsibility of finding housing for those who stay in the emergency winter shelters.
The Volunteer Program. This year 300 new people started volunteering at Carnegie. At any given time there are 300 active volunteers! In 2013 they contributed approximately 65,000 hours of program support, including 27,300 hours of kitchen work. Other areas enjoying significant volunteer support included the Learning Centre, Seniors lounge, the Pool Room, Computer Lab, Weightlifting Room, Oppenheimer Park, as well as other programs and special events. The majority of volunteers are local residents and patrons of the Centre. Volunteers are the reason we are able to provide most of the services we do.
The Kitchen is the heart of the Carnegie Centre and could not offer its huge contribution without the support of the volunteer base. In 2013 the kitchen served a total of 199,052 customers, approximately 545 per day. As well as providing three hot meals, soup, sandwiches and baked items daily, the kitchen staff and volunteers also catered for 353 programs and events. Volunteers working in the kitchen learn valuable skills while contributing to the production of nutritious low cost meals for the DTES community. People who’ve struggled with addiction can find that volunteering in the kitchen has been a dynamic part of their recovery.
Arts Programming, In 2013, regular ongoing programming included jazz band, ballroom dancing, two writers groups, Chinese choir, Carnegie Choir, cabaret, music jam, popular and documentary movie nights, poetry night, karaoke nights, monthly live band dance and a multitude of workshops in dance, music, art and theatre. The Arts Program also exhibits in the Gallery by local artists, programmed HomeGround & Heart of the City Festival & hosted performances and concerts by community and professional bands.
DTES Small Arts Grants, in its fourth year, received an increase in funding from the Vancouver Foundation, allowing us to allocate $100,000 in grants of up to $1000 per artist. Three-year funding has also been confirmed.
One of the major achievements of the Arts program this year was the fundraising for upgrades to the Carnegie Theatre. A jazz concert at the Cultch was successful in securing necessary funds from the City. The upgrades will proceed this month of June.
Seniors and Coffee Seller Programs Seniors Coffee Sellers raised $58,260.76 during 2013 The funds raised by 15 dedicated volunteers go directly to seniors programming, as well as other Carnegie & community events. 24-30 Seniors participated in monthly trips (2 trips/month of 12-15 Seniors) in and around Vancouver including, Pacific National Exhibition, Stanley Park Pitch & Putt, Burnaby Museum, the Cannery in Steveston and the Vancouver Aquarium. The Seniors also contributed Good and Welfare funds (a stipend for recently hospitalized Carnegie Seniors) for 8 seniors exiting the hospital to assist with comforts. 36 participants attended the annual camping trip to Cultus Lake for four days in August.
Cultural Sharing Programs The Cultural Sharing Program, hosted by two volunteers, continues on Monday evenings, with participation aimed at increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of Aboriginal cultural traditions. Workshops including rattle making, drum making, dream catchers & medicine bags, as well as medicine teachings have been enjoyed by participants. The Carnegie Centre has a renewed focus on welcoming First Nations participants to programs and has hosted feasts with entertainment at the Heart of the City Festival and the HomeGround Festival. The program also organized the Aboriginal Veterans Day march to the Victory Square Cenotaph, providing a space for the opening ceremony and for our veterans to gather.
The Cultural Sharing group hosted the 9th annual, Chinese New Year Celebrations for 120 seniors at the beginning of 2014. Lion Dancers welcomed guests with a colourful performance; Carnegie Centre's Chinese Choir followed with beautiful songs.
Oppenheimer Park, Oppenheimer park organizes annually 1) National Aboriginal Day which hosts over 800 people - showcasing our rich Aboriginal culture free for residents of the DTES; 2) Endless Summer Festival- a carnival type setting for children and families of all ages including entertainment by local talent; 3) HomeGround Event - Art workshops and social entertainment including Food Bingo, and an all-time favourite: Oppenheimer Park's Got Talent.
Our Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show collaborated with Gallery Gachet in its 6th successful year. Staff provide summer clinics for children and 2013 saw 10 children between 5-12 years of age partake in the soccer clinic. The Park staff and association members have been working with CCAP and our Chinese Senior population to create a safe space for seniors to volunteer and give back to the community. Many historical commemorative items have been installed throughout the year. The medicinal garden and community garden was completed in 2013.
The Security and Information Team's goal is to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for patrons and staff. In 2013; there were 1165 documented security related incident reports. The Team continues its commitment to Violence Prevention and hands off approach in response to incidents. The Team also serves the community by: Providing a vital information and community resource referral service, providing mail and message services, administering First Aid and gathering and reporting statistical information relating to Centre usage and Security
The Administration Team, led by Deleine Chamberlain, continue to provide support in a professional, friendly and respectful manner to the Association by keeping the books and minutes of meetings and to patrons by providing member services such as booking rooms and issuing mail.
The Learning and Literacy Centre The Learning Centre is a partnership with Capilano College, the Carnegie Community Centre Association and COV. Together with about 60 volunteers, the Learning Centre and associated literacy outreach programs assist over 400 community members with literacy and upgrading. Volunteers contributed over 8400 hours in 2013. The program receives financial support from Capilano University, the Carnegie Association and Ministry of Advanced Education through the Community Adult Literacy Programs.
Part of the Carnegie Outreach Literacy Grant goes to support the learning centre at the WISH Drop In Centre Society as well as an ongoing outreach program at Oppenheimer Park.
Over the past three years, Capilano, in partnership with Neighbourhood Houses and DTES organizations, created the "Everything Present in the Seed Community Leadership Training" aimed at building the skills, confidence and capacity of volunteers working in community organizations.
Carnegie Library Early in 2013 the library installed a new service desk in a new location, and added electronic gates as are found at all other library branches. A side benefit to these gates is their automatic traffic counting. Carnegie library regularly attracts a high number of visits, especially given its small size only the Central library and Mount Pleasant branches had a higher "gate count" for the last two quarters of 20 13. A typical day is about 1100 visits. Patrons make extensive use of our computer access, including wireless Internet service.
We continued to distribute books through weekly giveaways on Hastings Street, and to other organizations and programs in the Downtown Eastside as well as hosting author readings and workshops. In September, we partnered with dozens of local and health organizations to hold the sixth annual Alley Health Fair.
The Carnegie Newsletter is produced twice a month (except for the briefest concession to holiday at New Year’s) and put together by volunteers who faithfully contribute 2575 hours to collation and production. The newsletter has an annual subscription list and is read by residents all over the community due to the distribution efforts of Paul and others. The newsletter is funded in part by gaming funding and Paul Taylor works with the Association to fundraise as needed.
The Carnegie Community Action Project, coordinated by Jean Swanson, organizes residents and offers opportunities and education that promote the ability for residents to speak in ways they can be heard on issues of vital importance to them,including housing and the future of the neighborhood. Volunteers contributed 2400 hours to CCAP in 2013.
My thanks go to the Carnegie Association Board for volunteering your time to make sure that the business of the Association is carried on in a timely and meaningful way and for the support you provide to me by offering advice on relevant community issues and concerns.It is an honour to serve this community.
As many of you know, my own role has expanded to include advocacy for services for the homeless at COV. Special thanks to Assistant Director Sharon Belli, who supports all programs & makes it possible for me to take on this further role by expanding her own.
-Ethel Whitty [Director], June 2014
take back space
I was talking last week with libby davies, member of
parliament for the downtown eastside of vancouver,
and libby told of a star trek episode she'd seen - a
futuristic situation in san francisco - an enormous wall
had been constructed dividing poor people from every-
one else .. and outside this wall
in super consumerist upscale society
there was almost no awareness of who was struggling
to survive on the other side of the wall
nor how wretched their living conditions were
and libby said "that's not our future
it's happening right now"
north america's anti-panhandling bylaws and other
prohibitions against the presence of certain people
in what was formerly public space is a central objective
in the global and local writ against the poor
to put this situation in perspective I'd like to quote
from an excellent book "geographies of exclusion" by
david sibley; he says
"power is expressed in the monopolization of space
and the relegation of weaker groups in society to less
desirable environments .. the boundaries between the
consuming and nonconsuming public are strengthening
with nonconsumption being construed
as a form of deviance
at the same time as spaces of consumption eliminate
public spaces in city centres, processes of control are
manifested in the exclusion of those who are judged to
be deviant imperfect or marginal - who is felt to belong
and not belong contributes in an important way to the
shaping of social space
it is often the case that this hostility to others
is articulated as a concern about property values
the urge to make separations between clean and dirty
ordered and disordered us and them that is
to expel the abject is encouraged in western cultures
because such separations can never finally be achieved
this anxiety is reinforced by the culture of consumption
in western societies
the success of capitalism depends on it
and a necessary feature of the geographies of exclusion
the literal mappings of power relations and rejection
is the collapse of categories like public and private and
to be diseased or disabled is a mark of imperfection
the fear of infection leads to erection of the barricades
to resist the spread of diseased polluted others
there is a history of imaginary geographies
which cast minorities .. imperfect people ..
and a list of others who are seen to pose a threat
to the dominant group in society as polluting bodies
or folk devils who are then located elsewhere
this elsewhere might be nowhere
as when genocide or moral transformation
of a minority like prostitutes are advocated
the imagery of defilement which locates people
on the margins or in residual spaces
is now more likely to be applied
to the mentally disabled the homeless prostitutes
and some racialized minorities"
the downtown eastside of vancouver, where I live, is
by any statistical measurement of poverty and disease
a third world area
besieged by upscale developmental greed
of truly genocidal proportions
the highest rates and numbers of hiv/aids .. suicide ..
hepatitis c .. syphilis and tuberculosis
in the western world
and close to the lowest life expectancy
and the single question I am asked more than any other
by media and concerned citizens
is "where will they go?'
where will the people go when they are driven
from this area by gentrification/displacement?
referring to sibley, I must conclude that
the municipal provincial and federal governments
must have some imaginary geography in mind
because there is nowhere for the people to go
and in the downtown eastside
the public space that has been available for
drug addicts, mentally disabled, homeless, prostitutes
is being seized from them
shutters and grates cover doorways and stairwells
where human beings who have nowhere else to go
at least could stand for awhile
awnings are removed from buildings so that cold rain
pouts down on very ill people
large private security forces
in gastown and chinatown business districts
enforce to the limits of their capability
and harass poor and vulnerable people
out of their areas .. away from tourists and businesses
there is serious talk of establishing what is being called
the carroll street corridor - a kind of demilitarized zone
between gastown and chinatown so that tourists do not
have to walk through the defiled downtown eastside
and in the midst of the downtown eastside
the police have established a red zone
for prisoners released from jail, meaning you could
be arrested simply for being found on a certain block
and vancouver city council has recently invested time
and money in an attempt to circumvent
the charter of rights and freedoms
naming the downtown eastside specifically as the target
of this action to loosen even more
the search and seizure regulations
there are no-go zones in new westminster
several block areas where you can be charged
if you are deemed an undesirable just for being there
and that is basically in response to drug addicts
from the downtown eastside to new west by police
but there is resistance. I know there is here in victoria
and in vancouver not long ago
activists protesting the anti-panhandling bylaw
invaded city hall and occupied city council chambers
the sophistication of the system we are opposing is
such that the presence of panhandlers in business areas
of vancouver has been greatly reduced without the
police having to change a single person yet
thus the system is able to avoid a public legal challenge
and public space continues to be seized
to put this in a theological perspective I'll briefly quote
from a book entitled "money and power"
written by jacques ellul, who fought in the resistance
in france during the second world war
and engaged in many social justice struggles
throughout the remainder of his life. ellul says
"ultimately the rich seek to kill the poor
this happens because fine rich are exasperated
by constantly being called into question by god
through the poor - and this is the real reason for
the amazing problem that in all societies the rich
have detested the poor and why when precisely
the rich are the powerful the superior the strong
do they set themselves against the poor?
we can find of course all the psychological and
sociological rcasons we could want
but none of these reasons is definitive
none really explains but they all relate to the fact
that the poor are a temporal reflection of god"
to resist today is to take back space but when
we are few in numbers and have no money or political
power, what do we do?
the question 1 finally asked myself is not which cause,
which new assault on the poor should I take on?
anti-panhandling bylaws? the health care system?
housing? the legal system? racism? unemployment?
the theft of children from poor women? welfare?
but who are the defiled? the ones who don't belong?
- the human beings who are relentlessly
those who are victimized by this social cleansing?
in the downtown eastside
as well as throughout the province of british columbia
it is the drug addicts who are homeless, diseased
who are excluded, marginalized, pushed out, vilified
abandoned arid destroyed
arid it is the impoverished drug addict on whom
the entire system bear's down every institution of
law education business health and religion
the degraded situation and circumstances of drug addicts
is one issue that affects or will affect everyone in b.c.
and is the only opening, the only breach in the system
I have yet seen
during my activism in the downtown eastside
the horrendous condition of drug addicts has forced
government, the system,
to yield resources it never would have otherwise
I believe that in the downtown eastside
to defend the entire community of poor people
the best way to do it is to defend and stand with and for
those who are most defiled and excluded
the drug addicts
a year ago several downtown eastside activists
involved with the drug situation held a protest
we blocked the corner of main and hastings
and distributed a pamphlet describing the horrendous
situation of overdose deaths and disease
we planted 1200 crosses in oppenheimer park to
commemorate the number of people
who have died as a result of drug overdoses
in the past 4 years
as a member of the vancouver/richmond health board
representing the downtown eastside !"
I introduced a motion which passed declaring the
hiv/aids infection rate among injection drug users
vancouver's first public health emergency
these events brought international media attention
to the predicament in the downtown eastside
and since drug addiction and its consequences affects
all areas of our live including massive health care costs
the media has the story from one perspective or another
ever since, in such a widespread and ongoing manner,
that libby davies said she has never
in all her years of activism seen anything like it
at approximately the same time as these events
ann livingston and myself held meetings with drug
addicts in the downtom! eastside
hundreds of addicts and listened to them say over and
over that what they most needed was a place to go
a place, some space to be safe and rest and have the use
of a telephone and a shower and a restroom
common amenities denied them
for even the community centre in the area is off limits
from these meetings a campaign developed
for a 24-hour resource centre for drug users
and that coincided with the federal government
the liberals conning forth with a million dollars to deal
with the public health emergency
and it's been decided that the federal government will
initially fund this resource centre for addicts
a commitment which would have seemed
impossible unthinkable and absurd a year ago
there's currently a battle over where this facility will be
and there are those insisting it be located anywhere
elsewhere nowhere but it will be in the downtown
eastside; and it is space taken back
beeause if anything can be said to be an
anti-gentrification project, it is this one
and the health board in cooperation (of all things)
with other ministries and b.c housing
put together money not marked for any other housing
venture and purchased 2 hotels in the dark heart of the
emergency - the block where the red zone is located
the block most people in business wish was gentrified
and the addicts expelled as soon as possible
and these 2 hotels will house mentally disabled drug
ddicts, many of whom are infected with hiv/aids
this initiative is an important signal that a commitment
has been made to house "undesirables"
in the downtown eastside
and most dramatically of any project so far
is a drug users' organization
also funded by the vancouver/richmond health board
it's called vandu -vancouver area network of drug users
sibley says in his book
"there is always the hope thaI through political action
the humanity of the rejected will be recognized
and the images of defilemenl discarded"
and that is what vandu
has most powerfully begun to accomplish -
the de-marginalization of those most marginalized
the most powerless and voiceless are finding their
voices and speaking forth at meetings and conferences
and on committees where they had never been seen
or heard before
it occurs to me regarding activism in the downtown
eastside that out of all advocacy efforts and all the
meetings and demonstrations around housing, while
important as acts of resistance, they have not yielded
one square inch of space taken back
but the drug emergency has been truly hopeful
a petition campaign was begun by vandu members
for safe injection rooms in the downtown eastside
more space for the lowest the least and the last
and because of the horrendous number of overdose
deaths, this has become a possibility
the 24-hour resource centre committee unanimously
supported this petition
and safe injection sites and this committee
includes a gastown business leader and an inspector of
the vancouver police department and the chief medical
officer of be. john millar, in a report on the public
health emergency, urges the government to yield
resources with housing mentioned prominently
to help save lives of drug users
out of this suffering of drug addicts and their families
out of this exclusion, out of this genocide,
out of the enormous health care costs now and later
out of the monstrous market of international drug
trade against first nations people out of the wild fire
consequences of the prohibition of illicit drugs
out of the disease, out of the lives of the most
execrated most written-off and hated human beings
in our society has come an opening .. a possibility for
for change for taking back space
and the emergency is not going to go away
problems associated with drug use will only increase
and worsen if real changes are not made
for social activists
this is an opportunity that may not ever come again
you can take on the whole system
from the side of a drug addict
this crisis is in victoria, it is in the comox valley
it is on reserves throughout the province
it is across the world
and so I urge political activists to organize with drug
addicts - they are in the biggest mess there is
their lives are the biggest messes and the closer you are
to them the more of a mess you get into
but this solidarity is the only hope I see
for actual concrete change
the downtown eastside is being crushed
there are a million battles to fight
I have never before realized the width and breadth and
power of the system as I have in this advocacy
because here is a real threat to the system, trying
to save the lives of those others would rather see die
I'll close with another quotation
from the best book 1 know on this whole debacle
it's called "the corner"
the comer being the drug comer, the drug scene.
the authors david simon and edward bum say
"the corner is everywhere and we have swallowed
some disastrous pretensions allowing ourselves a naive
sincerity that even now assumes the battle
can be restricted to heroin and cocaine
limited to a self-contained cadre of lawbreakers
when all along the conflict was ripe to become a war
against tire underclass itself
we can commit to the people of the corner to the notion
that they are our own, that their future is our future
or we can throw the problem back on them
empathy demands that we recognize ourselves
in their faces, that we acknowledge the addictive
impulse is something more than simple lawlessness
that we begin to see the corner
as the last refuge of the truly disowned
and connectedness admits
that between their world and ours
in human terms at least
is never as great as we make it seem"
My love is
a soulful, surrendering spirit, a loving, tender listener & advisor with a busy body and mind; Nourishing, sensitive to the touch, openly friendly to one & all; musically artistically inclined, inspiring, caring ‘n sharing, genuine, real, deep and profound; guided steadily and studiously brilliant, effervescent & worshipping a higher power with a glowing smile on her beautiful face. She is absolutely pure of heart, with a contagious personality, directly involved with your immediate needs & welfare, body & soul, compellingly concerned with our well-being and always unconditionally sensitive to speak nothing but the truth about the light and the way for me to go. Hypnotic in her gaze, she knows my mind, my heart, my spirit. She is bewitching, beguiling and yet never bewildering with what she is feeling right now.
I love the fact that she is never out of my reach –to touch, to hug, to play with and talk to… She is always on my mind; she is ever in my heart. -ROBYN
POSTAL CODE READINGS
POSTAL CODE READINGS
Thursdays Writing Collective
Guest Authors Amber Dawn & Alex Leslie
Lost & Found Café (35 W Hastings)
Thursday, June 19, 7 – 9pm
Free! All Welcome! Light Snacks!
Carnegie Community Centre
We, the guests, patrons and members, are at peace and yet quite active (if we so wish) in this historic structure in the heart of the city.-the Downtown Eastside. Compelled to read a book, browse into a particular newspaper or magazine, or just listen to silence & everything in a quiet corner… away from the hurly-burly explosion of sound right outside the doors and spilling into the streets at Hastings & Main!
Everything is absolutely bursting with life yet again safe & sound in one of the first Vancouver City Halls.
One can be set free from outside forces to ponder, to dream or even worship this serene, exciting scene. One can chill out &/or hook up to a program, phone, computer, or whatever with membership $1. a year! Maybe get some cheap gourmet eats made here in the near-legendary kitchen by dedicated staff and scores of tireless (well, almost) volunteers. In point of fact this entire building is kept alive with this tried & true system and we never fail to impress!
The centre was originally financed with a $50,000 donation by philanthropic tyrant, tycoon yet built by turn-of-the-century stonemasons, carpenters and the stained-glass windows are a treasure by themselves.
One can drift into history and the further back one goes the more mystical and spiritual it seems to be. The whole area covered in old growth forest, wild rivers streaming with salmon, bears and birds and air so clear you could smell sage a mile away. With this kind of connection to the beginnings is it any wonder why we aren’t going away?!