The Poetry of Bud OsbornRaise Shit: A Downtown Eastside Poem of ResistanceA First Nations man recently told meHe had come to the Downtown Eastside to dieHe heard the propagandaThat this is only a place of death, disease, and despairAnd since his life has become a hopeless miseryHe came here specifically to dieBut he saidSince living in the downtown eastsideWhat with the people he has metAnd the groups he has foundHe now very much wants to live(Bud Osborn, 2003)
Location The DTES is directly adjacent to the wealthy tourist area, Gastown The DTES currently exists on unceded Coast Salish Traditional Territory
Map of Needs Missing Aboriginal Poverty Gentrification Women Crime Addictions Mental Health Inadequate The Legacy of HIV/Hep C Housing Colonization
Map of Assets Residents Residents Residents Organizing for Organizing for Food Organizing Against Housing Security Security Gentrification Small Businesses Rich Cultural Owned by Arts and Education History of the Four Community Initiatives Original Groups Residents Social Grassroots Advocacy Strong History of Housing, Mixed Use and Neighbourhood Resistance Spaces, Governance Parks Organizations
Four Original Communities in the DTES The original groups who resided in the DTES were Aboriginal, Chinese, Japanese, and the working class. These groups continue to live in the DTES, as well as newcomers.•The strengths and histories of these communities bringrichness and diversity to the DTES
Residents Organizing for Housing Security Twelve percent of Single Room Occupancy hotels are accessible to those with the basic amount of housing allowance money on social assistance. Many DTES residents subsist on social assistance. Groups like The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council fight to keep housing accessible to all residents.
Residents Organizing Against Gentrification Developers are interested in the inexpensive property in the DTES. This threatens accessibility to housing for local residents. Residents have responded by pressuring the municipal government to regulate development, in order to keep wealth in the community. One group, the DTES Neighbourhood Council, keeps a list of businesses where working class people do not feel welcome, in order to monitor gentrification
Residents Organizing for Food Security • The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House provides a community kitchen with healthy foods. They focus on giving choice to those limited in their food choices by material poverty. •SoleFood operates a community garden in the DTES, where one of the challenges the residents face is accessing fresh produce. •DTES residents have partnered with local farmers to provide families and seniors with coupons usable at the local farmer’s market
Local Businesses Some DTES businesses are owned by DTES residents, and wealth is kept within the community this way
Social Housing and SROs The DTES contains 23% of the city’s non-market housing and 80% of the city’s Single Room Occupancy hotels. These residences face challenges to their safety and accessibility, but continue to provide shelter to working class people. Residents fought to have the historic Woodward’s building contain social housing units (and they won).
Arts and Education Initiatives Hope in the Shadows showcases DTES photographers affected by poverty, and provides a source of income to the homeless population. The UBC Learning Exchange gives DTES residents a chance to access post-secondary level education. The DTES Survival Guide publishes the poetry of talented DTES residents.
Mixed Use Space Many people live in and around the businesses the work and purchase goods in. SROs are often located above other businesses This means that the streets do not “empty” at night, because people are still using the businesses below. It brings some safety to the area.
Community Self Governance andAdvocacy Groups Groups like the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA) and the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council provide advocacy to residents, work to solve neighbourhood problems, and to influence municipal and provincial governments into making policy and legislation that promotes positive change in the DTES.
Pigeon Park Savings Pigeon Park Savings is a bank run by Vancity Credit Union (a local business) and the Portland Hotel Society (a grassroots non-profit) to provide non- exploitative banking services to those who might not otherwise have access to them In many working class communities, cheque-cashing services exploit poor people. The DTES has a unique solution that keeps wealth in the community.
Direct Action in the DTES Groups like the Anti-Poverty Committee organize against globalization, the structural inequity inherent to capitalism, gentrification, and the criminalization of poverty In the past this has taken the form of demonstrations and other actions
Works CitedCity of Vancouver. 2004. Woodward’s: Help Create a Vision for the Future of Woodwards.http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/corpsvcs/realestate/woodwardsDowntown Eastside Revitalization: Community History. Available from:http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/commsvcs/planning/dtes/communityhistory.htmDowntown Eastside Revitalization: Neighbourhoods. Available from: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/commsvcs/planning/DowntownEastside/neighbourhoo ds.htmDowntown Eastside Community Monitoring Report. 7th Edition.Community Directions. 2002. Getting the Words and the Music: A Guide for Meaningful Involvement in Community-Based Development in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Strathcona. Vancouver, BC.Footprints Community Art Project. 2003. A Walking Tour of the Downtown Eastside. Vancouver, BC.Taylor, Paul. (ed.). 2003. The Heart of the Community: The Best of the Carnegie Newsletter. Vancouver, BC: New Star Books.