Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Technology is key

 If one was to travel 30 years back, they would discover that technology was not as up to date as it is in the 21 century. We have access to cell phones, computers, laptops, Iphones, blackberries and several other forms of technology. But do we ever stop to think specifically about the concept of being stripped of these useful tools? What would we do and who would we be if these forms of technology were removed from our lives.

 The access to different forms of technology has enhanced my ability to learn more about specific issues occurring in the world. It has allowed me access to blog sites, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and twitter. All these forms of self entertainment have also been extremely useful on my blog journey. They have assisted me by providing useful information regarding my topic. Not only have they provided me with information, but also a sense of stability and reassurance. Whenever I ran into confusing regarding my topic, I knew I was always able to access the Internet in order to get a detailed explanation regarding specific issues that I found difficult to grasp. Some people believe that the development of technology is creating more of a divided between communication amongst people verbally. But logically thinking, without different forms of technology we would lack the ability to communicate amongst other individuals located all across the world. Without the ability to communicate world wide, we would lack sever information regarding topics that are concerning us. We would not be able to communicate with people who share similar interest revolving similar issues. This would be a barrier that would need to be over come in order to continue to make change all over the world.

 Throughout my high school experience I have had access to the Internet; this has made it much easier to complete school assignments and to communicate with other classmates regarding group projects. Individuals take for granted the ability to access the Internet; we commonly disregard the fact that several other people are not as fortunate to be able to use the Internet and other forms of technology as a source of assistance.

(Connection & Technology)

journey to a new Vancouver

(google/vancouvers poorest postal code)
  The downtown east side is much more complex than people see it to be. Although development is being seen, it is taking place in a slow and inadequate form. Throughout this blog process I have first handedly seen and experienced the concept that individuals are obligated to their own opinions; whether I agree or disagree, they have the right to freely express there thoughts upon specific topics. Throughout the development of my blog, I have narrowed my thoughts upon the lack of development in the Downtown East Side specifically towards the government. Although I understand that the government can only do so much, if they do not provide us with “enough” then citizens such as ourselves will lack the resources and funds needed to assist this deprived neighborhood. Recently in my Social Justice 12 class we began watching a film called “Devil Plays Hardball”. This film is revolved around the concept of individuals becoming mentors for homeless citizens in the downtown east side. The individuals that took part in this project ranged from categories of drug users to simply homeless. Throughout this ten month project of mentors attempting to make a change in the life of individuals in the Downtown East Side, they faced several obstacles; mainly revolving around the lack of homeless shelters available, and the lack of access to government welfare. This is proof that citizens are willing to donate there time and energy into creating a “better” Vancouver. The government simply needs to provide more recourse in order to see improvements in the Downtown East Side. At the beginning of this blog processes I was unaware of what to expect from this experience. I didn’t know if I would enjoy having to write a blog post revolving the same topic weekly. In the end I discovered that blogging about issues that need to be spoken about is extremely beneficial. This project allowed me to discover and unwind problems that are occurring in a neighborhood extremely close to my own. Although during the start of this blog project I was aware of the issues occurring in the Downtown East Side, I just lacked extreme interest regarding them. This project has allowed me to truly connect with the issues occurring in this deprived but hopefully area code. The world is a large place, but in my opinion before we continue to assist third world countries, we need to come to realization that in a location so near to us there are conditions that compare to a third world country. We as a society are living in denial; we continue to choose to avoid issues. Soon we will need to realize that the longer a problem is ignored, the larger it gets.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Hidden Secrets

                                                              Image: M-J Milloy(google)
  The Downtown East Side is a familiar residence to me. Recently realizing I was exposed to only the positive attributions it has to offer to society. This blog project has allowed me to widen my prospective and expand my knowledge on the occurring issues in the Downtown East Side. I dug into the history of the downtown east side, unfolding several of the obstacles it is in the process of overcoming. The Downtown East Side in my perspective is the hidden part of this beautiful area code; they prefer to hide its flaws from the public to avoid the humiliation that would occur once exposed. This allows the government to focus funds elsewhere, therefore saving money, and according to the government putting it towards a “better” and more “successful” cause. The compelling aspect to the Downtown East Side is its potential. When I discover potential in a situation, environment, or an individual, I view it as an opening for success. If one discovers potential there need not be any component to hold you back from achieving greatness. In curiosity how long has the government been aware of the reoccurring issues in the Downtown East Side, and why are they not doing more to expand its development? It seems so discouraging, we’ve been taught to tackle issues, not avoid them; causing further destruction. People need to realize how serious of an issue this is. Its expanding further and further, the prostitution and drug rate is increasing, meaning the poverty rate is following. How do we expect this issue to solve itself? The Downtown East Side needs more assistance, funds, and encouragement. The Downtown East Side is corrupting; all the efforts individuals and organizations have put into furthering the Downtown East Side’s development will not have made a permanent impact. Although there efforts were extremely beneficial, if we don’t focus on permanent success, this residence will continue returning back to square one. I relate the situation in the Downtown East Side to homework. You need to get it done, but you will do anything to avoid it. Although you have been told the deadlines and guidelines, one still chooses to simply avoid the instructions; knowing that avoiding it will only cause more confusion and put you in a troublesome situation. As a society if we do not address the issues in the Downtown East side in a planed and coordinated way , it will continue to be a problem for the future generations, and own future society.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

How socially just can a " socially just approach" be?


  The Downtown East Side has the potential to reach greatness. Regarding the strategy of creating a coordinated social approach, the city of Vancouver, in partnership with the community, and the slight assistance from the federal and provincial governments, organized the four pillars strategy. It consists of prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement, which are all solutions that are and could potentially play a large role in the development of safety in the Downtown East Side. As a leader with community organizations, my father was actively involved with the early years of the community consultation that lead to the Four Pillars concept.

Problem solving tactics/ what’s being done

  Prevention: Promoting healthy families and communities, protecting child and youth development, preventing or delaying the start of substance use among young individuals, and harm reduction associated with substance use. This will improve the health and safety of the general population and reduce differences in health between social and economic groups.

  Treatment: Offering individuals access to integrated services to come to terms with issues revolving around substance abuse. This includes counseling, life skills, methadone programs, daytime residential treatment, housing support, and ongoing medical care.

  Harm reduction: Reducing the spread of deadly communicable diseases, preventing drug overdose deaths, increasing substance users contact with health care services and drug treatment programs. As well as reducing consumption of drugs in the street.

  Enforcement: Recognizing the need for peace and quite, public order and safety in the Downtown East Side by targeting organized crime, drug dealing, drug houses, problem businesses involved in the drug trade, and improving coordination with health services and other agencies that link drug users to withdrawal management, treatment , counseling and prevention services.

  The Four Pillars is a very useful tool to further development within the downtown east side residence. It provides society with four strategies which play a large role within the assistance of creating a safer and more welcoming environment. It managed to bring the coordination and cooperation among the different levels of governments and community organizations working in the Downtown East Side. The improvement within the Downtown East Side will not be a speedy process. It involves patience, time and the ability to become accepted into their environment in order to physically and emotionally connect with the individuals in that area code to discover what “they" feel would be an equitable and respectful approach. We must remember that in order to achieve permanent success there must be a happy medium between the residence in the downtown east side, the service providers, and the individuals attempting to create change. The four pillars is a simple solutions that when fully implemented will achieve the desired success.

Organizations involved within the improvements in the downtown east side

-The Ray-Cam Community center provides services and programs for children and families, including volunteer-based English as a Second Language classes, seniors programming, singing and sports opportunities, tutoring and computer stations.
 -Strathcona Community Centre operated by the Vancouver Parks Board, offers fitness and martial arts classes, special events, a pre-school, after school care, general recreation, arts and crafts programs and free showers.
- Carnegie Centre serves food, provides live music several times a week and offers free art sketching opportunities.
- LifeSkills Centre offers activities such as arts and crafts, sports and special community events and lunches.
- LATSE Local 118 puts on annual turkey dinners and clothing give-aways at the park just before Christmas.
-The Downtown Eastside Women's provides the Relocation Project/Bridge Housing aids women in need of emergency housing.
- First United Church provides assistance to area residents in the forms of advocacy in dealing with welfare offices, getting health issues met, dealing with drug rehabilitation, and providing entertainment through movies and outings. First United Church has given away thousands of donated books, articles of clothing and kitchenware

How can we get involved?
  There are several organizations in which individuals can get involved with (stated above) on the journey to achieving success in the Downtown Eastside.  Promoting the issue at local events, fundraisers and schools are ways in which local and non local community members can get involved to make a difference in the people's lives of this area. Making blog sites could assist individuals in understanding and awareness on the seriousness of the issues of the Downtown Eastside, and how it affects society as a whole. Individuals of different ages and gender, young and old can all contribute towards the continuous improvement of the Downtown Eastside. If there is a will there is a way!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Players and Stakeholders... Postives and negatives

The Vancouver Downtown East Side is often considered by many as the centre for “junkies”. Often it is taken as a homogenous community that has no life other than drugs and substance abuse and people induced by drugs and other addictive substances. Yes, drugs and drug users are rampant in this part of Vancouver City, but they are a manifestation of our society. In a sea of wealth and richness, it is an island for poverty. But, there is the positive side to the Downtown East Side. It leaves and acts as a community. In this blog I will focus on the different stakeholders who interact as they try to bring about change and development in the area.

The issues of the Vancouver Downtown East Side are complex, which makes it extremely difficult to simply scan over the basic information regarding the topic. In order to understand the issues occurring in the Downtown East Side, one must look at the Downtown East Side in a holistic way. One must consider all the issues that are contributing to its lack of development. Above all we need to understand who is involved and impacted by the lack of development. Despite the under-development of the Downtown East Side, there are individuals and groups who are committed to making a difference in the lives of the ordinary people and residence of this geographic area. These individuals include citizens just like us who contribute by assisting as volunteers in homeless shelters, food drives, women centers, drug centers and donating funds. There are also organizations such as the anti-poverty coalitions and the Downtown East Side residents association, which are social activists groups who create strong political campaigns regarding the issues in the Downtown East Side. The United Church also plays a large role in furthering development by providing a safe and welcoming environment which provides plenty of support, food and shelter for members in the community. Although these may seem as small contributions, it is making a difference in a positive direction which takes time, effort and patience.

The Vancouver Police Department is one of the key players in the battle for change in the Downtown East Side. Different people see the role of the police differently: some see it positively, while others see the negative side. As a society, we have been taught to see police as a protective force. They are seen as beneficial towards our society, as they protect good people and property from the “bad guys”. But that is not always the case. When we see the police within the context of the Downtown East Side, there are police officers who hope and work hard for change by doing their job properly and respectfully. They work with the community members and the local organizations with respect and dignity towards a common goal. Their success to bring stability to the areas residents is the community’s achievement. Opposite from this positive attribution rests the officers who are not sympathetic to the issues of the Downtown East Side, they have given up hope on making a difference, and above all are disrespectful to the community members. They use their authority and responsibility with carelessness. Their tactics to achieve improvements revolve around physical abuse, scare tactics, or simply ignoring the issues regarding drug abuse and prostitution. They have accepted as a fate accompli the environment and its inability to achieve change.

            The other big player in the Downtown East Side is the provincial government who, contrary to popular demand, are not so keen on speeding up the process of cleaning up the Downtown East Side. The government’s direct involvement in the area has decreased over the years. Many of the social programs and services ran in the Downtown East Sides are operated by non-governmental organizations. These organizations depend on the government, individual donors and volunteers to run their services for the needy people in the locality. The government is not giving these organizations sufficient funds, and is not playing a large role on the development in the Downtown East Side. For example, the provincial government denied funding for legal representation that would have allowed the participation of organizations from the downtown east side and Indigenous groups and individuals who worked closely with the murdered women who were mostly residents of the Downtown East Side. Although I acknowledge they have given a vast amount of approvals to programming in the area, they have not independently come up with well thought projects that would benefit the Downtown East Side. The government has shut down psychiatric centers, simply releasing the mentally ill onto the streets with no social support. They were not supportive of the insite center that provides a safe environment for addicts, which has been extremely beneficial to the Downtown East Side. They cut funds for women centers and directed the money for less sever issues such as providing police with publicly-funded legal counsel. There was also a vast amount of demolishing of low income houses for the development of high end development projects which displaced most of the underprivileged people into the streets. These are only a few of the issues that the government ceases to see as a major priority.

These groups are just a few who have played a significant role in the development or deterioration of the Downtown East Side, but we must not only look at the individuals who hold power, but at the individuals who are being affected by their strong social empowerment. Specific individuals who live below the poverty line, lack education, involved in the sex trade and drug scene continue to go through a vicious cycle. This harmful cycle is continuous and will remain unchanged if our government doesn’t focus on the fundamental issues that are affecting the Downtown East Side as a priority supporting the community and community organizations. The government ceases to see that their lack of interest in the growing problems in the Downtown East Sides is affecting a vast majority of the population. The removal of health centers that have assisted the mentally ill, addicts, and sex workers, contributed to the continuing deterioration of the development and improvements of the areas in the Downtown East Side.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Root causes contributing to the Downtown East Side's lack of development.

   In my first blog post I seemed to be particularly specific within incorporating the key issues that are contributing to the Downtown East Side’s lack of development. By targeting the key issues I was also speaking heavily about the causes; such as prostitution, poverty, and drug abuse. These specific issues all contribute to the saddening fact that the Downtown East Side is on a heavy spiral towards an altering path. The reason the Downtown East side has reached such a dramatic stage of discomfort and destruction is due to the government’s inability to enforce the key problems; which then turn into the causes. Problems such as poverty, prostitution, and drug abuse are the cause for the Downtown East Side’s lack of development. The issues resulting in the Downtown East Side are much more serious than though of.

    Vancouver is a very well know city. It is recognized for its sky rise buildings, clean neighborhood’s, family inviting environments and its city vibe. But it is very seldom that people witness the residences in Vancouver that lacks these developments. The Downtown East Side is a condensed environment where all the negative attributions are suffocated into one location; causing a vast eruption and an overwhelming amount of drug usage and prostitution.

   Specific issues that have resulted in an increase of poverty in the Downtown East Side are: demolishing of low income housing units for the development of high scale developmental projects such as the Olympics. The increase of prostitution in the Downtown East Side is due to the funding cuts for women centers, and rape crisis centers. The growing rate of poverty in the Downtown East Side is forcing women into the survival trade (sex trade), to support drug habits and pay bills. Although the sex trade is frowned upon , the lack of interest that police, politicians and society have to make the environment safer, is creating a higher crime rate in the Downtown East Side district. In the Downtown East Side people are not adequately served, meaning they have no permanent housing, behaved illness problems, and no access to health services. This is living proof that the Downtown East Side is a very capable city; if we distinguish the issues and solve them. Another large issue was revolving bed closure in psychiatric facilities. Individuals with mental issues, and difficulties with substance abuse were let free. This made it extremely likely that they would come to contact with the criminal justice system. 49% of police calls to the Downtown East Side were due to a mentally ill person.

  The rate of prostitution has been roughly the same in the past decade. Women in the Downtown East Side face the most violence. Downtown East Side Vancouver attracts those who are interested in looking for sex workers due to its “recognitions”. The living conditions in the Downtown East Side match up to those in a third world country: issues such as gang wars, drug bust and shootings. The disappearance of individuals from the Downtown East Side has been an issue that individuals adjust to. Once a person has been gone for a long period of time they are presumed dead. Vancouver is the most desirable places to live in the world; it could achieve much greatness if it had the slightest bit of guidance from government officials (government attention). Although the Downtown East Side lacks a sever amount of development, it has the potential to become a very safe and welcoming environment.  

What is the root of the problems plaguing the Downtown East Side? "The root of the problems plaguing the Downtown East Side is the concentration of poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, poor housing, prostitution, petty crime, and mental illness in the area. This high concentration may be traced to developments in other parts of Vancouver like Expo that have reduced the availability of affordable housing until only the Downtown East Side remains. It will most likely continue because the Downtown East Side acts as a magnet for people from other parts of Canada and even the United States who are afflicted with personal, economic and social problems and are looking for a place where they will belong."- Mark Hume . Drug problems in the Downtown East Side/