17 February 2010

Vancouver graffiti

So we arrived in Vancouver to a manic City that on the surface seems in love with the Olympics. There are tourists everywhere, all clad in top to bottom Vancouver 2010 merchandise. It seems shiny and happy and very middle class. These people must have money, there are toddlers attending the downhill skiing event-these tickets are priced at $200 a ticket! I find this troubling (recession? What recession?)

Olympic flame

Then you leave the shiny airport and head to Downtown Eastside (DTES) (Wikipedia) and start to see Vancouver's poorest district (locals call it ‘Canada’s shame.’) W2 - where we are working, is placed in the heart of this. What W2 is trying to achieve is an alternative space (a literal space and online space) for unaccredited media to voice what the mainstream media isn't. Basically DTES has masses of homeless people and drug users and not one cent has been spent on providing proper housing or health services etc.

'Build Social Housing'

Tonight I went along to a piece of land that has been overtaken by protesters-it is completely peaceful and has a zero tolerance on drugs and alcohol. I went to the protest march this afternoon and went back to the land tonight to meet some people. I didn’t find the people I wanted to talk to but I found myself wanting to write about what I saw……

Vancouver protest

……I would call myself a mild activist. I join in a few things at home in Liverpool but I am not nearly as active as I’d like, I used to research women’s rights and injustice issues regularly but recently have found it hard to find the head space and time. Being in Vancouver has made me realise that I need to get my act together and that we should all be active in being an activist. Our communities need us and we need them. When I am amongst people from completely different backgrounds, all striving for the same thing, it inspires so much creativity and feeling which inspires my work, my attitude and makes me feel like I am actually useful and making a difference in some way. I really believe that we all care about something. Do we care enough to get up and actually do something about it?

I can see the barriers, people think being an activist is being antagonistic, a hippy or even violent. I am not any of these things. And I know most activists aren’t. The feeling of helping and being a part of something is intense and positive across many parts of your life. And these are just the selfish benefits. You can change the world.

At the protest I listened to a young woman sharing her poetry about women in Downtown Eastside and I was in bits. She was probably younger than me and she was so confident in her words. She paid tribute to murdered women and it was amazing. I felt guilty that I was not writing anymore and I think its because I lost my confidence. Well I’m gonna start again now. Bam.

I was told that one person couldn’t change the world and that I couldn’t. Well, I will. Join me?