Monday, April 25, 2011

Drop the burger n chips what about some Social Housing

It was that time - danger - in the Jarvis household. I need to eat, 7pm ish, and thinking there's nothing to eat in the fridge I started to think of burger and chips - but somehow convinced myself this would be a bad move.

The alternative which I cobbled together in about ten minutes was a lot healthier and actually pretty satisfying in the sense that I didn't need to go shed ten bucks or more in some diner or restaurant where I would feel like a total loser eating alone on Easter Monday.

I don't know what it is lately but I am feeling the need to be around people like all the time. So when I do get out to do my volunteer stints at Coop Radio and also for the federal election, I'm like, okay I've done my volunteer work but can I hang out for like an hour and just well hang out cos you people are really nice and I'm not wanting to go home just yet.

Shit, it's not all bad at home. I am totally digging some CDs from Vancouver Public Library that I got out for African Vibes - the show that I host normally on the last Sunday of the month but will be hosting again on May 15th. New discovery is the track "Khira" by Yazid Fentazi. It is definitely going to get a play or two. I'm browsing the sleeve notes as I write this and it makes reference to the fact that Fentazi honed some of his skills in London - ooh ooh - a Last Call connection, could sit well with The Streets.

Back to the alone thing - I think living in the hood - The DTES is beginning to rub off on me, in the positive sense of really understanding the street culture. Say what you like about the drug abuse and all the other kinds of abuses that go on in the hood but there is something that I really appreciate about this neighbourhood. It is that you can be yourself.
I see people walking through the DTES who are obviously ill at ease and not comfortable with what they are seeing around them. I can understand that. No one wants to see suffering or witness the humiliation of people who are obviously suffering through drug addiction, mental health problems, poverty or a combo of these.
At the same time I see people talking and living in community. Don't get me wrong. It's no Garden of Eden but I tell you something - it's a lot more real than some of the developments that I am seeing in the blocks immediately west of the DTES and this is where I start to talk about gentrification. "Cleaning up the dirty face of Hope Street" as the Levellers correctly noted in their ditty Hope St is not a solution to poverty. Homelessness is on the rise in Vancouver, the shelters are closing and City Hall is approving condo development in Chinatown. It's not right.

What would be right is some social housing. Today I had the pleasure of canvassing for one of the candidates in the federal election at a housing coop and wow, I was so impressed with what I saw. Here was community, a community where people were thriving. The Single Residency Occupancy buildings are for the most part in a continued state of decline. Their owners, not all, want to hold on to these sites in the hope of development. It is our society, a capitalist society that puts profit before people which lets the neglect happen and increases the divide between those who have and those who have not.

There needs to be a shift in thinking to foster the development of housing which is going to create community and provide a haven for people to be successful. The gentrification of the DTES is not going to rid society of the problems associated with poverty. Success is too often thought of in this world as making one's riches but success can also mean getting a job with good benefits, moving into a housing coop, and being part of that community. Not every one is going to want to eat a burger and chips.

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