After my photoshop fun of yesterday, I am staying on the topic of The "W" - because, well, marketing pisses me off. I am countering that with a little anti-marketing.
Today I had occassion to be driving along East Hastings, when I was re-directed by the po-lice due to a large crowd blocking the street at Main and Hastings (just after I passed a group of about 8 desperados openly shooting something into their veins in front of a boarded-up store). The crowd was holding an annual vigil for the 60-odd women missing from the area. We know what happened to quite a few of them.
The "W" sits at 100 West Hastings - a scant 3 blocks from the Carnegie Community Centre, a scant block from Victory Square, and a meagre two blocks from the colourfully named Blood Alley (just at the end of Trounce Alley).
I wonder if they mentioned the community centre, local parks (Oppenheimer Park is nice on a summer evening), the library at Carnegie, and the cheap eats available there, in the promotional literature for The "W". Intellectuals who will be inhabiting those expensive intellectual properties for the bold were surely mindful of those near-by amenities when considering their purchases.
I found an interesting article relating a reporter's visit to the Carnegie Community Centre in The Republic of East Vancouver. It is an interesting introduction to some of the colourful characters buyers at The "W" will know as neighbours.
How much did those places sell for again?
A visit to the Carnegie Community Centre makes you think about what we mean when we say “community.” It’s Friday, January 19th and I’m coming up the steps of Carnegie with 2005 mayoral candidate Peter Haskell. The crowd of people outside the 104-year-old building tries to sell us everything from syringes to Tylenol-Threes. Haskell is one of many who are forbidden to use the facilities at Carnegie, but as we enter, nobody seems to notice him. As soon as we enter, staff throws somebody out for being intoxicated.
He yells “Get your hands off me!” as he struggles to keep from losing his morsels of food.
I meet another man who has been kicked off the property. Ricky, a big first-nations man, speaks with a somber tone and chooses his words very carefully. “They kicked me out of Carnegie,” he says, “They say it was because I smelled.” “I’m a warrior,” says Ricky, “and I’m not going to let them tear down my community.”
The demographics...are overwhelmingly Southeast Asian; at least fifty percent. It’s at least 30% visible first-nations, and 15% Hispanic. (rich foreigners?)
There is a small branch of the Vancouver Public Library in the building and it is perpetually busy. All the washrooms have those white lights that are supposed to make it hard for intravenous drug users to be able to see a vein to shoot up, but there are needle drop box receptacles on the walls. The washrooms are scary enough, but the lights give them an extra spooky appearance. (Great for the kiddies at Hallowe'en)
It brings me back to the point about what we mean when we say “community.”
Carnegie has recently had a lot of changes...such actions such as groups of seniors picketing Tourism Information Offices and saying “welcome to Vancouver” and handing tourists information about the gentrification that’s been going on here. But critics of the Carnegie are quick to point out that Carnegie management make upwards of $50 000 per year, while volunteers work hours for enough meal tickets to be able to buy something to eat in the cafeteria. link
The homeless you have with you always . . .
Some of the locals -
Abigail is one of the homeless denizens of Vancouver's
notorious Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Photo courtesy of Union Gospel
A drug deal in Vancouver's downtown eastside: home to the highest
population of intravenous drug users in Canada, and one of the "worst HIV
epidemics in the developed world." photo: City of Vancouver