A Rainy Day 2
(cross posted on rabble.ca)
Weather is such a critical factor in everything we humans do. When it’s cold and wet and you’re homeless, it makes daily survival even harder. Add storms/snow and more, and its deadly. Today – day 2 of my hunger strike relay – we spent the first half hour outside the Carnegie Center, trying to avoid the cold and rain, wrestling to put up a small tent cover, and keep the flip-chart from blowing away and written comments from leaking down the increasingly wet pages. (Thanks Megan from my office – I know you got sopping wet). Love that Vancouver weather! But it’s not snowing or freezing so we are fortunate. Still, lots of wet feet, not good shoe wear, people underdressed around us – huddled and rushing to get into warm spaces.
I am blown away by how eager people are to write down their thoughts/experiences re: homelessness, Harper, and everything else. Many have said – are you sure I can say this – can I use this kind of language – and I say …..tell Harper the honest truth, and if you gotta say how mad you are in a strong way – go for it. And people do. Had several visits from others who have done the hunger strike before me. They kinda freaked me out by describing how they felt by day 5. One person said she yelled at her mother for no good reason. I thought – gee I don’t want to yell at my mum – I have to make sure I keep my emotions in check no matter how cranky I feel. But really the tips were pretty good.
It’s interesting to hear the different experiences of people who are homeless (one man for 15 years) compared to people who managed to get into social housing. “Changed my life,” one woman told me.
There, at Main and Hastings, I saw a ray of sunlight – all the way from Toronto – Cathy Crowe the most amazing street nurse/housing advocate from the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, is running in the next Ontario Provincial election as an NDP candidate. She won the Nomination last night. Way to go Cathy – you are an inspiration and I love that you are taking this on. All power to you! And give ’em hell!
I first met Cathy and many others, like Michael Shapcott and Beric German, when I did the first of two national housing tours across Canada in 1998. They are dedicated and wonderful people who never give up on the need to fight for decent, safe, appropriate and affordable housing for all people. It is a national movement, and the campaign for a 1% solution for housing came from these good folks.
Tonight I’m off to speak to a group of young “leadership” folks at the BC CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) office – about politics of course, and organizing, keeping politics real, and that sort of thing. I drank my vegetable juice – had my tea – so time to head out the door. What I want to say to them is – don’t let the cynicism that surrounds politics get to you and dis-empower you – use the political system to organize, work with people, and build hope and possibilities that really do exist.