That’s “Downtown Eastside” — a tragic shorthand, an acronym that’s deserving (at the very least) of a full explanation. What’s happening? How did we get to the current situation? And why can’t we find our way out?
Karen Ward is a member of the “we”. She’s an ardent and eloquent activist who lives in the neighbourhood and provides emotional support to her vast personal network — a community which spans from Woodwards to Oppenheimer Park, from the foot of Main Street to City Hall. Karen is a former Board member of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), and former collective member of Gallery Gachet. Most notably, today she contributes to policy strategy as a volunteer advocate to both the BC Centre for Disease Control and as a spokesperson for her community to Vancouver city council and local media. Karen is unquestionably an urbanist, in thought and in action.
Give this episode — just 30 minutes of your life — a listen this holiday season. It’s a small opening into the life led by your neighbours, in a place that was once the beating heart of mainstream, middle-class Vancouver…and which today constitutes “7 or 8 blocks of chaos.”