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My faith is possibly being restored: I went to Oppenheimer Park at 5am this morning and found no less than twenty-one, 21!, of my fellow well-housed neighbours there in the park with me, collectively in solidarity with the homeless. Plenty of press came, but no police this morning as they’d received the press releases too (I wonder if they went to another park?)

And, more amazingly five of my neighbours actually DID sleep outside there last night. I’m blown away, and wish I’d joined them. Another night.

And one last thing for the record. I brought my daschunds and they were totally cool in the park, and in fact there were 4 other dogs there so they all had their own doggy protest.

OH, AND MORE GOOD NEWS: according to this just released by cbc BC had an almost 3 BILLION dollar surplus in 2007. Anyone wanna tell me our housing issues can’t be addressed??

Fellow Citizens, you should know about this:

Many of you know of the infamous Oppenheimer Park in my ‘hood, the Downtown Eastside. It’s a pretty grim park, frankly. I only go there rarely and I don’t let my dogs walk there because of the needles. And other stuff. See image below.

People without a house and nowhere to couch surf hang out there in the day and sleep there in cardboard and cheap sleeping bags at night. Not my kinda crowd, not easy people to be around, and easy to dismiss.

But this next part is insane:

Yesterday morning at approximately 4:30am the police took action against the homeless living in the park. People were ticketed and were allowed to leave with their belongings- those who didn’t have shopping carts or other means of carrying their belongings had everything loaded into a garbage truck that had followed the police into the park.

The police stated they intend to continue this action on coming nights.

I ask you:

1. What the hell is the point of ticketing them? TICKETING the HOMELESS?

2. Exactly who among us is upset that we can’t use the park at 4:30am because people without homes are sleeping there? Why, precisely, was it so imperative that they be moved along at that ungodly hour?

3. Where, exactly, do we as a society expect them to move along to? At 4:30 in the morning? Without a place that is their own?

My fellow citizens, and especially those in Vancouver,

if you, like me

  • have a place to call home (esp. us property owners)
  • enjoy enough abundance that we can delight in getaways for the weekend (ironically, away from our own homes)
  • possibly struggle with so much stuff that we actually store our excess

if you, like me want, to live in CANADA, not some Dickensian horror,

for Christ’s sake (perhaps literally), here is some action you can take:

  1. Hold your politicians to account. This is not about the police. It’s about what kind of society your politicians are shaping. E-mail the following with your thoughts on the matter: Mayor Sam Sullivan, [email protected] Peter Ladner [email protected] ; Kim Capri [email protected] ; Suzanne Anton [email protected] or the entire council at [email protected]
  2. Inform yourself further – easily – by things like joining the facebook group Streams of Justice. This is a faith-based group but you will be comfortable hearing about and joining their activities no matter your own faith or no faith at all. Or, browse and keep checking Blackbird’s photo documentaries on homelessness in Vancouver on Flickr.
  3. If you are ready for some more radical action, I am considering sleeping outside myself as an act of solidarity. Not sure when, not sure where, but I hope to have my podcasting skills up to speed and contribute to the documentary of what happens at 4:30am in Vancouver. If you may be interested in joining me, either twitter me (money coach is my handle) or do a bit of research to figure out how to contact me (because of the nature of this post, I am not going to publish my e-mail or I’ll get tons of hate-on stuff)

We don’t have to settle for a lame-ass city, fellow citizens. But our politicians need to know we’re not OK with this.

-nancy

The park in question:

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Photo Credit: The Blackbird

update – this press release:
July 17, 2008, Vancouver, BC:  Police continue to ticket and confiscate belongings of “homeless” campers at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside every morning.  The sweeps typically happen between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and campers were threatened today that multiple tickets will turn into arrests tomorrow.

Neighbours are concerned about this and not for the usual reasons the public would expect.  Kathy Walker, a parent of 5 and resident of a house across the street from the park, will sleep out with the campers tonight.  She said: “The park has been very much under control all year.  People are quiet, they clean up after themselves and they support each other.  They put away their tents before the park opens at 8:00 a.m.  These people are part of a community.  We want Oppenheimer exempt from this unfair by-law.”

With a virtual zero % vacancy rate, closure and upscaling of many local residential hotels, 40,000 turnaways from shelters over a 9 month period in the area, the campers themselves wonder where they are expected to go.  Brian Humchitt and his partner Tina Eastman were ticketed this morning.  They said:  “We’re homeless in our own land.  We are struggling to survive in our home which is our tent.”

Wendy Pedersen, parent of 2, resident of the DTES and organizer for the Carnegie Community Action Project, says “these tickets will turn into warrants.  This by-law is the perfect tool to aid the police to move people where they want them to go before the 2010 games – out of the Downtown Eastside.”

PIVOT Legal Society is collecting tickets and planning to contest them in court.

A convergence of concerned neighbours is planned for 5:00 a.m. Friday morning and a press conference will be held at 6:00 a.m.  Planning is underway to continue the pressure.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Where:  Oppenheimer Park, 400 block Powell Street
When:   Friday, July 18 6:00 a.m. – near the totem pole

sliced-tomatoes.gif

Every so often I like to point out companies that are doing it right.  And no, this is not a sponsored post.

I’ve been using sliced tomatoes every so often over the past year, and do they deliver – both literally and figuratively.

Here’s how it works:  you go to their website and select which menu you’d like delivered to you (MetroVancouver) and select the date.  The menus are fabulous – organic, free-range, local and unbelievably tasty.

Greg or his crew will drop off a cooler containing all the ingredients, nicely sliced and chopped.  All you need to do is follow the very simple cooking instructions (which range from microwaving to broiling)… et voila, a gorgeous gourmet meal, usually with plenty of leftovers for lunch.

As if that weren’t enough, more than once they’ve gone the extra mile for me.  They did so again yesterday:  Because my usual drop-off point was closed due the power failure in gastown, Greg hand-delivered my dinner to me the following day at a time that worked for me.

All I can say is:  wicked value, great food, awesome little company.

Give it a try.

-nancy

I just got back from a three-night getaway.

Some generous friends from out in the valley (hi there – you know who you are *wink*) have a place that I now refer to as Martha Stewart Unkempt (the Unkempt is a compliment. And the inside is kempt. The outside is just all lovely and done, but not manicured). An acreage, a vast lily and fish pond, berry bushes, garden, and tall, very tall trees that seclude the property.

The dogs are welcome too, much to their delight. It’s doggy disneyland: squirrels, crows and for once in their blessed lives, a green yard (they’re concrete jungle urban daschunds). Oh, and a geriatric, ever-tolerant, black lab.

And the sounds: birds at night, creatures rustling in the bushes, the zap of bugs getting to close to the light, chain saws and trains in the distance.

The point is this: truly, truly the best things in life are free.

Readers: any best-things-in-life moments that you’ve had this summer?

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Well, well, well.

It’s about bloody time Canadians refused to bend over, and fought back, nice and loud, about the iphone. Or rather, about how Rogers planned to personally bankrupt Canadians foolish enough to purchase the bright, shiny object under Rogers Rule.

So here’s what happened:

Rogers data plan was so obscene some good folks created a blog: RuinedIphone and started collecting signatures. (And as a point of interest, the original domain name was not so polite. The original name started with an f.) Within hours it had the 10,000 signatures needed to bring it to the competition bureau; within days, it had 50,000 signatures and Rogers had a serious PR nightmare on its hands. The story got picked up by the globe, the sun, 24 hours …

and the blogosphere

and rumour has it that apple itself was disgusted, and a) diverted 20% of the phones from Canada to Europe and b) will not be selling the iphones in their own retail stores.

and this morning, Rogers finally dropped their rate from $100 to $30 for the 6G data plan – provided you lock in for 3 years, and pay for a voice and voicemail (?) plan. And of course there are always those hidden fees.

Personally, I’m staying in touch with Peter’s Useful Crap to weigh my cel phone options. (err, Peter, will you be sharing your thoughts on iphone v instinct etc.?)

Meanwhile, I really am wondering: where are our politicians in all this?

A. Conservatives: let the free market rule, even if it screws our peeps

B. Liberals: what will get us elected again? what will get us elected again?

C. NDP: there are people starving. apple-what?

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Readers: do you believe politicians should have any interest in this? or is something like obscenely overcharged consumer goods not worth the time and energy of our government?