Category Archives: DTES

Appropriate Futures

hey everybody remember that whole thing with the Balmoral and the Regent

remember that thing with the expropriation

last year 

the expropriation

remember the expropriation of the hotels

before the buildings were SRO hotels

they were hotels

it wasnt that long ago, from a historical perspective.

but their function slowly slowly completely changed 

not imperceptively 

you might notice slow historical change

if you looked close   or from an angle

people dont want to notice, because that would make it real

not like now

(historical change is all up in your face)

anyway those days are over and that is the past now if it seemed and felt normal

normal is done.

we’re not going back to ‘normal’

also, normal sucked.

this is a fast emergency and fast fast change and nobody knows the future.

one more thing.

this is a really small thing that apparently needs to be said.

we’re not going to have mass tourism, cruise ships, events, big festivals and so on

for a really long time. historical-type time.

all that is over. 

yes i am a historian actually.

becoming social housing IS your bailout 

and lifeboat

take it


did you know ‘hotel’ and ‘hospital’ are derived from the same word

and there will be 1-3% of visitors as in the beforetimes and why would they i mean who takes the risk of boarding a plane to look at a pile of corpses and the monuments the survivors built for themselves and then sold to a corporate investor for a 3.4% profit on spec #vanre 



this is just so upsetting.

nobody knows what will happen, just that the future will not be the same. it doesnt have to be worse. we make our own history, and these are new circumstances. we can make something better, even in this place.

we can try to UNkettle

written in pink ink on a building: "the end is here'

the downtown eastside, as it’s been all this time, or when i described it in september, is done. let us out of rat park, we all have to get out of this cage. we can un-kettle, we have to, its a moral error to maintain this – living without choices is what has made this place a trap.

we are packed shoulder to shoulder. its increasingly intense, violent, desperate.

we cant look out for each other, we cant keep social distance, we cant Stay Safe because we can’t Stay Home. we dont have the option and we dont have the space and people are still out there hustling all day. everyone will continue to go out for their stuff until we create multiple routes of access to Safe Supply, because no-barrier for all is actually having lots of choices.

housing, food, incomes, occupation, safe supply, and each other, and its not for us, but FROM us to reduce the harm that the rest of the world faces too. all of us.

so —

Housing now, no NOW: people would stay home if they had homes or anywhere to go. not more shelters but transition centres sure. many people arent set to separate – which is understandable. street families, ie small groups of four or five could move into vacant storefronts everywhere. i bet tourism vancouver would agree to facilitate getting people into hotel rooms, thousands of them, right away. a small percentage of the vacant rooms.

this is not a short-term problem. the tourism industry is over. routing the $375/month to owner per room may ease the come-down for the hotels, but this is done.

moratorium on evictions, obviously rent freeze for duration.

Knowledge: i asked mark about this : grad students from the ubc school of population & public health out on the street answering questions. people need knowledge (good dope) and consistent sources of information. this is a super-intelligent but low-information population

– at least temporarily, a hub to accept and redistribute donations. maybe the Merchant’s Bank building? it’s empty. i dont think they will be renting that out anytime soon…

– creating social distance: ffs no non-essential vehicles on hastings from abbott to dunlevy.

-food depots, one per block, distributing standardized care packs daily. in storefronts.

– we would also like INTERNET thanks and about 4000 phones and 2000 tablets and 2000 laptops

– Income – no one has any reserves, there’s no food, we can’t trade. So-called “crimes” are anxiety-related and about poverty. increase shelter rate and clearly everyone needs a basic income

-if everyone has a bank account, they can choose for themselves when and how they receive their assistance. this isnt complicated (i despise the BCCSU for BCCSUing all over this. among other reasons). the poverty/binge economy + monthly cash dump ISNT THE BEST

– we should probably create a poor people’s bank, but not a crap one

– the police have to not arrest people for survival “crime” and people who arent convicted of anything shouldnt be in jail at all. also – no police.

– defund & dissolve CCAP

– join the Carnegie Community Centre Association board

– take over the Carnegie

– i’ll do those last three

– yes this is my plan

we’re running out of time

[slightly revised from a facebook post}


Our Streets, 2010

12″ x 54″, acrylic on wood.

Amid the creeping gentrification that is transforming our neighbourhood and making it even more difficult to live, the ‘mall’ on Hastings that runs from Pigeon Park at Carrall to Main (or Columbia, depending on your opinion) is one of the nerve centres of our community. These are Our Streets.

It is one of the places where we make our own rules and do our thing. Yeah, some of us use drugs, and we buy them on the street. We also meet our friends, go to United we Can, watch the world go by.

What’s crucial is how out of the ordinary this is. I get out of the neighbourhood a couple times a month, and I’m consistently unnerved by the conspicuous lack of people, the lack of conversation, the lack of difference in other parts of Vancouver. It’s kind of creepy. In this painting, I tried to create the atmosphere of the street without the people. As you look at it, I bet your mind and imagination fill in the people. But this is what some people want, all of us in our rooms and not filling the streets with our spirit and beauty. This is what we must fight to prevent, and keep these streets ours.

well. that was from 2010.


on coroner’s update day, december 2019

i was at a meeting and a health authority person said “the numbers are leveling off” and i didnt let myself flinch because i didnt want to leave the room to exhale and i had to say “those numbers are human lives. people. your numbers are of the dead. numbers numb.”

at a different meeting a policeman said “the prevention sites are consistently full, the same,” and i said “you do realize that these are Different people, right? because 600+ people have died in two years in these few blocks.” #DTES

more than that obviously. there are many ways of dying but always of injustice. all these fragile bonds that held us barely together are frayed and torn and arent coming back

and people are throwing each other liferafts and waterwings in a sea of poison. from a boat made of duct tape. and the boat is on fire.

this is a vision of your future which is why you cant bear to look

its an emergency, you know

will you let people die at this unacceptable rate because its better than before? as long as its contained in this place that you can scare the disobedient with? the purpose of structural violence is to enforce structural power – its victims must be visible, and silent

because the rest of you must FEAR

so what will you do?

these are some towns in #bcpoli with by-laws criminalizing poverty – the persecution and hate are real. there is no place to go. down the road and west.

but the numbers are steady here. the demographic is younger.

i dont think people can take much more of this.

not dead is not enough