Category Archives: Harm Reduction

it doesn’t have to be this way

the updated phrase
HarmReduction is about meeting people where they’re at,
but not leaving them there
is key to understanding what has happened in #DTES, wide-frame. the stakes are high. this is the history we must awaken from if we want a future. because not only are lots of things much more harmful –down here everything is so messed up (this is the capital of fucktup canada) — we’re an industry leader in inventing new ways to harm as every day we are all a little poorer and more desperate, more harmed and harming.

but NOT leaving us here

This is a clip from “Frontline Fentanyl” in which Huey Lampkin of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users explains the economics of fentanyl. This is the clearest explanation you will ever hear of this, and it is a brilliant analysis, and really important to watch. The full documentary is here: http://frontlinefentanyl.com/

this is about inequality of possibility. the distance between us – in for example, the Woodwards building, emblematic of everything ever in this tiny world – between the resident of the condo building and us in supportive housing – is a distance that capitalism measures in dollars, and therefore in value. it is an unfathomable distance, a gap that that can only be crossed by a miracle like celebrity, lottery, sports stardom, or the production and sale of synthetic narcotics. but not everyone is cut out to be a pharmacist, and the slightest error or lack of care results in death. but to the best of your knowledge, this is the only means of generating wealth known to you — because criminalization and poverty and the stigma have slammed shut many doors.

In fact, the only work option

available to you is ‘dealing‘ drugs

(what with your record)

and so, hundreds are dead here. this is the world that we all have created. synthetic painkillers have more than decimated this population. this was all done out of desperation.

this is the situation in the downtown eastside.

tasked

In the next few days – no earlier than wed. dec 12, and no later than friday (i guess), a report and some recommendations will be released from the city for council to consider the following week. it is the result of the meetings held in the last few weeks. it’s been a scramble and that was the easy part. 

the Community Action Team meeting last week would have been to venue for people to ask (as there were many city employees present) who was on the mayor’s advisory panel, or what my role was (as obviously i am not representing an organization or a member of one), since apparently what i do is a distracting concern for some.

during the meeting itself, i was accused by a VANDU member of not doing enough to address drug user labour issues, which is the closest i’ve ever been to punching someone in the face at a city meeting. This is a good indication, though, of the level of general dysfunction as well as the specific tone of the anti-me (in particular) resentment, well over a year after my resignation from the place. 

so now we’ve come to a place where at a meeting of mostly drug users, convened by the mayor of vancouver, we have one person accussing another drug user of not doing enough for drug users, and some people parroting a bunch of nonsense condemning the meeting for even happening and making no difference, while it is happening, and they are in the room.

i don’t know, for example, if anyone took a moment afterward and thought “wait, does the mayor of this city or any other call a meeting of drug users in their first month in office, to consult with them on social policy as it relates to overdose? is that the usual thing?” 

it’s really not. 

perhaps you’ve heard about anti-drug user stigma. the mayor could easily NOT have convened a meeting. or had an emergency task force at all. it would have been easier to just do a bunch of random things, and not associate himself publicly with drug users (as sensibly cautious politicians do).

i don’t find sensibly cautious politicians very interesting or fun to hang out with or helpful in terms of our overall policy goals (particularly the “drug users not dying like this” goal). and it will take a lot of support and help for him, as an independent, to get something bold passed by this council next week.

“it’s the same old people on the advisory,” i heard someone say. again, really, no. there are drug users on it. i am on it, and so i am busy, advising. i don’t represent an organization or agency and i don’t work for anyone (including “the City”). it is not the same old people, and i wouldn’t be on an advisory if i thought that nobody was listening.

actually, what i’d like is for drug user organizations to notice that there is a drug user on the advisory, and when doing so, support my (unpaid) efforts, rather than call for me to be removed. maybe even those organizations could suggest that i should be employed to oversee the implementation of the plans that i have been working on, and paid to do so, like people are. at the very least, if they are interested in their members at all, the leadership of these organizations could facilitate access to accurate information. 

i remember going on about how not listening had everything to do with why all this happened, that there are consequences to silence (in this case, silencing drug users’ warnings about the potential mass casualty event fentanyl could cause), way back in May when, as Kennedy pointed out, we started discussing ideas for ending this at the Ovaltine. 

COPE, with harm reduction

two days out, final reviews of parties on overdose-related and other drug policy issues. didn’t want to have to do this. I haven’t heard or read anything to indicate a serious understanding of this issue from COPE: The Coalition of Progressive Electors. Others have asked for thoughts, reached out, asked questions, developed solid ideas. this platform has less than what the city is doing now. in Factual Reality. it’s less than what Gregor has done. that is a fact. it’s clear they have no idea what has been done, and what is being done now.

i have tried to convey these concerns privately. but critique, disagreement, whatever, is always taken as an *attack*. I worked with Jean for years, and Wendy Pedersen same. this document tells me that you have not taken any time to understand this issue seriously. you don’t know the facts. your statistics are incorrect. and they aren’t “just numbers.” there is zero meaningful engagement with the complexity of this massacre.

because-too-many

their platform is heavy on traditional COPE specials like “stuff that is already happening” and “stuff that the city doesn’t have the authority to do” and empty symbolism

the fact that you clearly haven’t read a word I’ve written or paid any attention to anything i’ve done for the last 16 months or whatever stings a bit. but the fact that you present this naive, ideologically-driven (yeah, science, fact, evidence, and experience are much better) retrograde policy to the public, and our city, our neighbours (the ones who aren’t dead) (yet) does not trouble me. it angers me.

I have waited as long as possible. but I won’t sit here and let this go silently (because “the cause”). there’s nothing left or progressive about this. more people will die. I don’t give a shit what you think your ideology says about that.

sure it hurts. but if Jean Swanson & others are elected saturday, others will be hurt more.