CCAP News bulletin January 2013

Waldorf hotel closure a case of gentrification? Or is it appropriation to call it gentrification?
Interview with Carnegie Community Centre Association president Gena Thompson and Tristan Markle from the Mainlander on The Rational, Coop Radio See Monday January 21 2013, at the 21 minute mark

BC Housing accused of bailing out condo development
Interview with CCAP’s Ivan Drury on Redeye, Coop Radio January 11 2013
“Freedom Now!” panel on housing struggles in Downtown LA and Downtown Eastside Vancouver at the Social Science History Association meetings from November 3, 2012.
Featuring speakers from LA and Vancouver housing movements past and present organized by St. Mary’s University Professor of History John Munro:
– Pete White, LA Community Action Network co-director
– Mr.. Jack O’Dell,  editor of Freedomways magazine and adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
– Harsha Walia, DTES Power of Women group and No One Is Illegal Coast Salish Territories
– Ivan Drury, Carnegie Community Action Project and DTES Neighbourhood Council member.
The LA Community Action Network has released a book called “Freedom Now” about their struggles against gentrification and for housing justice. Ivan from CCAP responds to this book by putting the anti-gentrification struggle in the DTES in an international context and argues that, in terms of community struggles for justice, the DTES is closer to DT LA than it is to Kitsilano. A theme of this is discussion is for greater collaboration between low-income communities struggles across Vancouver, along the West Coast, and throughout the world.
Social Housing Coalition BC has released demands, research and coverage of the emerging province-wide social housing movement as momentum builds towards the BC election in May. Other  online resources for this coalition:
Twitter @stand4housing  Facebook  socialhousingbc@gmail.com

Do we want a Social Justice Zone in the Downtown Eastside?
All over the world, low income areas are being gentrified and low income and vulnerable people pushed social justice zone heartout of their neighbourhoods.  Could Vancouver be different?  If so, what could happen here that would respect the basic human rights of low income people to chose where they want to live and to have basic needs met?   Could we get the city, other levels of government, business and agencies to adopt a special Social Justice Zone in the DTES?  If we did, would exactly would that mean? Social Justice  Zone 
Fat Dragon failure a lesson to would be gentrifiers: DEOD is for low-income people
We don’t read about it in the news when low-income peoples’ hotels close down or upscale and throw low-income tenants out. And there was no public outcry, twitter trend, or feature articles when Flowers or Uncle Henry’s closed down. Not so for Fat Dragon restaurant, a short-lived (just 10 months) and never-successful boutique restaurant across from the Downtown Clinic and beside the Living Room on Powell St. Like the more recent second gentrification of the Walforf Hotel this restaurant has received the full media treatment and analysis throughout its life and death. The media and restaurant-going class are interested in the story of Fat Dragon because it is a story of how gentrification can fail.

Gentrification and pipelines what’s the connection?
What’s the connection between gentrification in the Downtown Eastside and the fight against oil pipelines in the interior of BC?
That was the topic at a town hall meeting at Carnegie on Jan. 8th.  The meeting was sponsored by the DTES Not for Developers Coalition to muster support for a demonstration against the Enbridge Pipeline project on Jan. 14th.

King-mong Chan CCAP’s spring intern
Hi everyone! My name is King-mong Chan and I’ll be a practicum student with CCAP from January until early April.  Last year, I had the opportunity to do my practicum at First United Church; drawn by the spirit and inspiration from this community, this year I am excited to back in this neighbourhood again.  I’m currently in the final year of my bachelor degree in social work.  I am eager to learn from all of the people here in this community (including those who are reading this – like you!) as I stand in solidarity with you all in our fight for justice.  So enough about me…I want to get to know you as well!  So if you see me at Carnegie Centre or on the streets of the neighbourhood, please stop me and say hi; I would love to meet you and hear what you have to say.

BC Housing subsidizes Sequel condo project
Should BC Housing subsidize a Downtown Eastside (DTES) condo developer when our neighbourhood has 850 homeless people and 3500 living in crummy hotel rooms that need to be replaced?  Is Condo King Bob Rennie, also on the Board of BC Housing, behind a sweet deal that will probably increase property values two blocks away from his own office?

Members of DTES Local Area Planning Process committee start discussions on peoples’ planning
As they approach the one-year anniversary of the DTES Local Area Planning Process (LAPP) committee some low-income community members of the committee are reaching outside the official city process to welcome the broader community in.

DTES Not for Developers coalition starts survey and discussion series about cycles of displacement
CCAP is part of the DTES Not for Developers Coalition which has been organizing for over a year and a half against condo developments at Pantages theatre, in Chinatown and, recently, at 955 E Hastings. The coalition has started a survey and discussion series about the threat that underlies all these condo development projects: displacement; in its Downtown Eastside form of gentrification.

Is Save On Meats’ token gesture to the poor still a money maker for gentrifier Mark Brand?
This November Mark Brand, the Downtown Eastside gentrifying restaurateur, entrepreneur and enfant terrible behind the Save On Meats cultural engine celebrated on the western Canada lecture circuit, launched $2.25 breakfast sandwich tokens to “provide nutritious food to those in need.”

Do we want a Social Justice Zone in the Downtown Eastside?

social justice zone heart

All over the world, low income areas are being gentrified and low income and vulnerable people pushed out of their neighbourhoods.  Could Vancouver be different?  If so, what could happen here that would respect the basic human rights of low income people to chose where they want to live and to have basic needs met?   Could we get the city, other levels of government, business and agencies to adopt a special Social Justice Zone in the DTES?  If we did, would exactly would that mean?

Working definition of a Social Justice Zone:

  • A place where low income and vulnerable people have a right to be and won’t be pushed out;
  • A place where low income residents are recognized as the experts in matters that affect them and have control over decisions, services and operations that affect them;
  • A place where low income people and their basic human and social needs have priority over profit;
  • A place where residents work for social justice.  Continue reading

Fat Dragon failure a lesson to would be gentrifiers: DEOD is for low-income people

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We don’t read about it in the news when low-income peoples’ hotels close down or upscale and throw low-income tenants out. And there was no public outcry, twitter trend, or feature articles when Flowers or Uncle Henry’s closed down. Not so for Fat Dragon restaurant, a short-lived (just 10 months) and never-successful boutique restaurant across from the Downtown Clinic and beside the Living Room on Powell St. Like the more recent second gentrification of the Walforf Hotel this restaurant has received the full media treatment and analysis throughout its life and death. The media and restaurant-going class are interested in the story of Fat Dragon because it is a story of how gentrification can fail.

Fat Dragon was important to gentrifier culture when it opened because they saw it as the frontier of boutique culture. When it opened in February 2012 Scout Magazine encouraged diners to go eat there even though “this section of the DTES around Oppenheimer Park that has been (and still is) considered a bridge too far by restaurateurs… There is a community here, and a strong one at that, but it has to face a daily gnarliness that no other neighbourhood in the city has to contend with.” The community Scout Magazine was talking about was the restaurant-going, architect studio working one; the majority low-income community was the “gnarliness” those others had to face. Continue reading

Gentrification and pipelines what’s the connection?

Melina Laboucan-Massimoof the Lubicon Cree Nation spoke by phone to the 50 or so people at the Town Hall about what the Tar Sands projects are doing to her land.  There is “no hunting cause the land is cut off or contaminated,” she said, noting that three tumours were found on the carcass of a recently killed moose.  “We can’t access our traditional medicines and have elevated rates of cancer and respiratory illness” because of contamination.  Maximo said that the tailings ponds from the tar sands are “hundreds of kilometers long and leach into the water table” with chemicals that cause cancer.  Some communities have to have bottled water delivered to them because they can’t drink local water.

What does this have to do with gentrification?  When indigenous people are displaced from their land because they can’t maintain their way of life or find a way of supporting themselves, some of them find their way to the DTES.  Now gentrification in the DTES is increasing land prices and rents and displacing people again from the DTES community they are building.

Bea Starr of the Power of Women told the group that she was from the Helsiuk Nation in Bella Bella which the oil tankers will pass if the pipelines are allowed.  Bea said she didn’t want to lose abalone, sea urchins and seaweed that are traditional foods of her people.

Mercedes Eng read a statement from the Not for Developers Coalition, in solidarity with people who are fighting the pipelines. “Low income people in the DTES have never consented to condos and gentrification,” she said.

Herb Varley, who chaired the meeting, noted that displacement, whether in the Alberta Tar Sands or DTES is “usually preceded by dehumanizing the people who are about to be displaced.”  Before contact, he said, taking indigenous land was “justified” by saying indigenous people were “savages.”  “Now its ok to push people out of the DTES because they’re called ‘drunks,’” he explained.

Robert Bonner said he was pleased with the amount of young people coming out to Idle No More events, and encouraged everyone to get involved  in opposing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s legislation and fighting homelessness.”What’s happening to aboriginal people is happening to everyone,” he said.

Massimo told the crowd that her people were resisting the oil corporations by doing public education, speaking to parliaments in England and Norway, educating investors about how to disinvest, lobbying politicians, having teach-ins and blockades and even one court case against Shell. “We feel a lot of support,” she said, “But a lot more needs to be done.”

Introducing King-mong Chan, CCAP’s spring intern

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi everyone, My name is King-mong Chan and I’ll be a practicum student with CCAP from January until early April. Last year I had the opportunity to do my practicum at First United Church. Drawn by the spirit and inspiration from this community this year I am excited to back in this neighbourhood again. I’m currently in the final year of my bachelor degree in social work. I am eager to learn from all of the people here in this community, including those who are reading this, like you. I stand in solidarity with you all in our fight for justice. So enough about me, I want to get to know you as well. So if you see me at Carnegie Centre or on the streets of the neighbourhood, please stop me and say hi, I would love to meet you and hear what you have to say.