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Troubled residents can teach us a thing or two

From Monday's Globe and Mail

People in the Downtown Eastside are eager to help their community, Margo Fryer says ...Read the full article

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  1. Harold A. Maio from FYT Myers, United States Outlying writes: '...the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill' is an offensive representation. Try 'the' Jews in your sentence to perceive that offensiveness. The first misrepresentation, de-institutionalization, was Ronald Reagan's euphemism for removing the costs of of state institutions from his ledger when he was governor of California. He was not called the great 'communicator' for nothing, he knew full well how to manipulate language. Other states and other countries followed his lead, transferring red ink from state budgets to myriad other ledgers. The human costs, ignored, will not be calculated in my lifetime, no one cares. The human costs of the second metaphor, 'the,' have been measured. We know the consequences of 'the' Jews and 'the' Blacks, and in various other areas at various other times the same costs to other 'the's.' Still our usage continues, transferring to the de jour victim of our choice. 'The' mentally ill were the first to go up the chimney, in Brandenburg, where the first gas chamber was installed, by medical doctors, for our murder. The chimney too short, the crematorium was moved, the townspeople did not enjoy breathing us in. Carbon monoxide was then the gas of choice. Getting false metaphors past editors is not difficult. As a prejudice is internalized in our minds, our thoughts, it is rotely repeated, to assure it remains, like reciting the alphabet from memory, or the timetables, we know what to 'learn.' Harold A. Maio (MH Editor, retired)
  2. Tremayne Hersch from Chozenfrozen, Canada writes: Vancouver created this slum on purpose to give the city more character. Why are they turning their backs on that plan now?
  3. Yukon Jack Restoule from Dokis Indian Reserve # 9, Canada writes: Don't turn your back on the impoverished. With today's economy going into the dumps you may be in line for that one meal a day at the local soup kitchen. So, smarten up and stop implying that slums were created by the big cities. What a joke. At least someone like Margo is at least trying to do something instead of bussing them far enough out of town while you pretend to be a multi-cultural society in 2010 for the whole world to see. Then after the cameras are turned off you go right back to racism and ignoring the plight of the people on the street. It just makes me sick to see this going on in the comments sections of major newspapers. Other countries may be reading your constant drivel.
  4. Zarny YYC from Calgary, Canada writes: What drivel.

    'There but for the grace of God, go I'?

    I don't think so.

    I wasn't stupid enough to become a crack or heroin addict.

    Fryer lists everything under the sun to pass the buck and the responsibility as to how people end up in the DTES.

    The truth is most are there because of the choices they have made.
  5. J.C. Davies from Canada writes:
    'Ideally, in 10 years the Downtown Eastside will still be a diverse and lively neighbourhood where people care about each other.'

    In other words she doesn't want the East Side cleaned up. She is part of the problem not part of the solution.
  6. Alban Leurk from Ottawax, Canada writes: I was expecting way more out of the headline... and in the end it was a wet petard. 'we have to start thinking...' blah blah and Oh yes this is always somebody else's fault NEVER theirs. Well since the mental health system failed... not the victims but the murderers (see G&M on Mc Lean- i refuse to remember the name of the assassin-), the guilt spewing machine is in full swing: media, academia, charity biz in the end are those making careers fixing nothing. In a country where a drunk driver causing bodily harm, failing twice to respect his bail conditions and is now released with minimum community service 'because of reasonable good behavior' according to the judge, how can we expect anyone to care about DES when judges do not even care about protecting the public from known offenders?
  7. al-naskh wa al-mansukh from Canada writes: The poor woman giving this interview has a head full of sociological gibberish. You infidels should turn to Allah. Through his final Prophet Muhammad, Allah has perfected the zakat, the tax that you pay for the poor so that no one should be hungry. Zakat also pays for jihad but we don't talk about that.
  8. Michael Tripper from Canada writes: as someone who is about to be homeless in the very near future as far as I can tell - every single career issues has been caused by my not finishing my undergraduate degree.

    EI et al refuses to help you finish school - welfare too.

    I will be dead because the province I lived in refused to provide a loan for some spurious reason sending me on a downward spiral that will lead me to be one of the many other lost causes we see in the DTES.

    You will have to excuse me if I hate you all forever
  9. Douglas Freestone from Canada writes: al-naskh wa al-mansukh from Canada writes: 'The poor woman giving this interview has a head full of sociological gibberish. You infidels should turn to Allah. Through his final Prophet Muhammad, Allah has perfected the zakat, the tax that you pay for the poor so that no one should be hungry. Zakat also pays for jihad but we don't talk about that.'

    Yes, looks like the Zakat is doing wonders for Palestinians, Bangladeshis and other groups of impoverished Muslims.
  10. Douglas Freestone from Canada writes: Though I don't agree with everything this woman is saying, it is a nice breath of fresh air from, 'the neo-cons suck, more 'resources' need to be spent on 'programs'' Whatever that means.
  11. Douglas Freestone from Canada writes: Michael Tripper from Canada - I hope you are able to find a way out of your situation. I sincerely do.

    I worked fulltime while getting my undergrad and thesis completed. I have a friend that worked fulltime, did their undergrad and raised a child. Tough stuff.
  12. Michael Tripper from Canada writes: don't worry about me - thx tho

    something will occur
  13. Popeye Dillon from North Vancouver, Canada writes: Zarny YYC: Exactly.
  14. justice peace from burnaby, Canada writes: The car license plate states'THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH',well Vancouver has the worst ghetto on earth I have seen in all my travels. As a poor art student I would draw its broken smashed pounded faces at the free drop in life drawing sessions of the Carnegie Center at Main and Hastings. The area is the meat grinder of humanity literally 63 women disappeared and the VPD said it was because of their life style choice. Vancouver you are sick greedy pretentious . You are not a world city and you do not deserve the olympics. The olympics should have been given to Fantasy gardens.
  15. Deron McAndrew from Toronto, Canada writes: I stopped reading after Ms. Fryer's response to 'What must be done to fix the Downtown Eastside?' Note how she begins each sentence of the response:

    'We have to stop thinking of the Downtown Eastside as ...
    We have to go beyond the stereotypes and recognize ...

    'The situation in the Downtown Eastside is complex.
    Many social, cultural, political and economic forces are at play. We have to start thinking of the Downtown Eastside as ...
    We have to stop focusing...

    In other words, the problem is with our perception of the situation, so go forth and perceive differently.
    Action items: 0. Thanks for all of the fantastic input. Next!
  16. N. American from New York, United States writes: There's a very simple solution...

    More cops.
  17. Tremayne Hersch from Chozenfrozen, Canada writes: There are bad neighborhoods in every major city. Why are people acting like the DTES is something special and unique? Why is a local slum getting play as national news?
  18. ginny smith from Canada writes: tremayne, the Downtown Eastside is the poorest postal code in Canada. That's why it's an issue of concern. And over 60 women went missing there while the police did nothing. That's why it's a concern. Because drug addiction and the concomitant issues of the spread of disease (hepatitis, etc) are a major problem. That's why it's an issue of concern. Because focusing on one area may give us some solutions to similar areas in other cities. The Learning Exchange is a unique initiative that has had a dual effect of enabling the residents of the DTES to help themselves and to work on a more local level, but also to help the students, most of whom are from relatively privileged backgrounds (and you have to have some privilege to attend university, even if you're there on student loans), understand the reality that is life in the DTES. I've worked there in the past. It's a horrific place. It's a tragic place. It's also a place with tremendous community spirit and goodwill. The people that call the DTES home are very aware of each other and of their community. It is, in this sense, much 'richer' in human resources than many of the more affluent communities on Vancouver's west side where you may never ever talk to your neighbour unless it's to complain about how the city hasn't fixed the crack in your sidewalk (I'm not making this up, either). It is a complex place. And Dr. Fryer is absolutely right. Solutions aren't going to work unless they involve the community they're targeting. And those solutions aren't only about money. Thank you Dr. Fryer, for your commitment to change. For your recognition of diversity. For your willingness to take steps that the rest of us have been unable to take.
  19. Douglas Freestone from Canada writes: justice peace from burnaby, Canada writes: "The car license plate states'THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH',well Vancouver has the worst ghetto on earth I have seen in all my travels. [...]"

    What!?!?!? You obviously haven't travelled much. Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is pure paradise compared to some of the slums that I have witnessed around the world.

    Look, the Downtown Eastside is a major blemish in such a wealthy country. It needs attention, but at the same time, it has to be understood that in comparison to slums in the developing world this place (and its residents) perpetuates itself because of the attention that it does get (food, shelter, medical services, safe injection sites, lots of social workers, etc...). Find a balance between state help and self help. If I understand correctly, this is essentially the tone of this article.
  20. Alban Leurk from Ottawax, Canada writes: Ginny smith, wake up she proposes NOTHING!
  21. lary waldman from Qualicum Beach, Canada writes: I don't know the simple answer, could there be one? I do know that the carrot and the stick thing works. Perhaps if we could create enough carrot and stick circumstances we could bring people around to taking a positive role in their community. I currently don't have to live in the DTES, but after several years not seeing it, and then suddenly being faced with it again, I was shocked to see that in the last six years, things seem to be getting worse not better. Maybe the American system, you know, the appointed CZAR of the DTES, like the Jim guy who ran for Mayor and lost, togeather with churches and other socially responsible groups, can create enough carrot and stick circumstances, that we can start to move the ball towards finding solutions. I also think it is interesting that drugs did not seem to be much of a contributor to the problems down there, in this persons opinion, I think that is wrong, drugs including alcohol, are a huge problem. Perhaps the time has come to close all the liqour establishments, and see what happens.

    Lary Waldman
  22. dav rav from Vancouver, Canada writes: 99% of the people on the dowtown eastside streets are alcoholics and drug addicts.
    No amount of housing, feeding, clothing extc will change that. The major problem is with the well meaning but misguided do-gooders like this writer of the article.
    We should have policies that discourage this behaviour,
    not policies that make it easier for these people. They should be forced into detox and treatment facilities, they should have their butts kicked until they change or die.
    It worked for me and many others. Don't make it easy for these people it will only make matters worse.
  23. harry carnie from Northern , B.C., Canada writes: We should care for our fellow man/woman.

    People should NOT be sleeping on the street or begging.
    If this includes compulsory detox treatment, so be it.

    Money would be better spent to rehab these
    individuals, than expensive health care when they fall sick
    Closing the readily available mental facilities , we had in the past, with no follow
    up, is the main contributing factor here.

    On a whole, if people are visiting Vancouver the street people would not bother them as much as the daily gang shooting.
    You think the rest of the world will NOT be influenced by this ?..
    IF they are thinking of attending the 2010 Olympics..YOU ARE WRONG!
  24. Karen Young from Vancouver, Canada writes: Compassion, or condemnation?
    Caring for the hurt, or insistence that they attempt to heal alone?
    Proud of yourself, derisive of others?

    Perhaps it's possible to allow and even foster sympathetic community. One that allows for differences, and encourages healthy choices.

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