There is a new fund that contains approximately 10 million dollars to clean up the Downtown Eastside in time for the Olympics. 10 million dollars to clean up the neighborhood for a game, well if your really serious, lets try this. Keep the money in trust. Do some genuine community organizing and start with gathering organizations with a little bit of resources that work directly with the community like the Neighborhood Helpers Project, Carnegie Community Action Project and the Downtown Eastside Neighborhood house to work in partnership with residents to ask every single person living in social housing, SRO’s and on the street, what they want to do. What are you good at? What do you dream of doing? How can we make this place safer, healthier, together? What are you willing to do to make it happen? What am i willing to do? Then we follow through, no more talks, no more process. We listen. Then we respond and support each other in making this neighborhood a healthier, safer place for the people who live here, not for people who are coming to visit for two weeks, and not the condo dwellers who have capitalized on the neglect, but the people who have spent their lives in this community, the kids who have grown up in this neighborhood, the Chinese clans and societies that continue to gather in their spaces on Hastings Street amidst the chaos. Real change doesn’t happen if people don’t have a stake in the change, if the only people that are part of the discussion, are people who have been neighborhood mouth pieces for 20 years, City Staff, developers and others who are acting in the best interest of people who apparently can’t speak for themsleves. If you respond to this, i don’t want to hear anything less than how can we get this started or a correction on the figures of the fund. I don’t want to hear that i’m passionate or naive. I just want to hear that your serious, serious about real change, about really asking people what they want, rather than assuming. I want to hear that buildings like the Heatley block won’t be demolished for a Library that should go in the oldest part of Strathcona School (which is slated to be demolished) because the kids in this neighborhood shouldn’t have to walk to a highway (Hastings street) to go to the library, and that we won’t destroy two more beautiful old buildings. I don’t want to hear about zero displacement anymore, because clearly that’s not happening. I want to hear, that Stamps and Maclean housing projects will remain affordable for the families that live there. I want you to do what your paid to do, facilitate change and listen.
Also, you might want to hang on to that 10 million, you might need it in 2011 for the New Beginnings fund.