Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the cryptogram, written by david mamet

If you go to the theatre to be delightfully entertained, amused, or comforted, you won’t like the new show – The Cryptogram – that opened at the Belfry Theatre this week.  If, on the other hand, you have an appreciation for literature, particularly short stories with dialogue that’s left unfinished, questions that remain unanswered, and endings that leave you uncertain what to think or feel, never mind wondering what might happen next, then you’ll want to rob your piggy bank and go.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the extreme weather protocol and the emergency shelter system - explained.

It all started on a cold January day while I was waiting for a bus destined for Sidney where my elderly parents live.  A woman asked me for some money so she could buy some food.  There's lots of food in Victoria, I said … though I was willing to share a little change regardless.  The woman told me she has Crohn's disease, and a special diet, and she just wanted to get inside somewhere warm and have a decent meal.  I noticed she was carrying a sleeping bag, and asked her if she had a place to stay that night.  No, she said, the shelters are all full and the extra shelters aren't open.

I remember my response.  “Are you kidding me?!”

I'll admit I'm a bit out of touch with the service providers in this town.  I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they're not particularly fond of me.  For years, decades, I've been a staunch advocate of systemic change.  Paradigm shifting.  In my ideal world, there are no homeless shelters, no emergency weather protocol, and no jobs maintaining and implementing those services.  There would be no homelessness, because everyone would have equal access to the resources they need to survive and thrive.  Not grow wealthy and selfishly take more than their share, just survive and thrive.

Monday, January 24, 2011

my life in the busy zone ...

I forget where I was this past month when someone asked me, as sometimes happens, “what do you do with Street Newz.”  I tell them “I’m the founder,” and they either respond with a blank look that indicates they don’t really believe me, or they’re duly impressed.  Either way, I rarely have a chance to tell them what else is involved.  I’m having a bit of a ranter’s block this flu season, combining illness with the change of life and activists’ anguish (watching while nothing really changes), so I’m gonna delve into the world of narcissism and self promotion and answer that question more thoroughly.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

City council should have listened to the 50 plus speakers about their proposed condo tower plan.

W2TV - FIGHT the HEIGHT Jan17/11 from Sid Tan on Vimeo.

"The more we look at the resolution the worse it gets." That's what Wendy
Pedersen, Community Organizer for the Carnegie Community Action Project
(CCAP) said after city council passed the so called "emergency" resolution
about condo towers in the DTES.  "This resolution essentially helped council
avoid hearing approximately 50 speakers today who were going to speak loud
and clear about their opposition to more condos," she said.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

nothing about us, without us.

community media chats with street folk at
august 2010 "gathering on the green"
i love that i live in a community where people care so much.  i know this because i received an email from jen book, who works at city hall.  jen is frustrated because she feels people are blaming her for the problems associated with victoria's homeless situation, and for the inadequate responses from government.  she's also feeling that i've been instigating these attacks on her.

let me be clear -- my intention is to shed light on the societal structures that create and sustain homelessness and poverty, to draw attention to the reality of how that translates on the streets, and to encourage real change including creative solutions like tent cities and eco-villages.  i believe, and i know many support me in this, we're all better off when we can help ourselves.  handouts are nice, but they're not the solution.  my intention is not to attack civil servants, though, or others who do what they feel is helpful to those in need.  at the same time, i do invite everyone to think about what they're doing for their paycheque - are you helping to alleviate, or maintain, homelessness?

Friday, January 14, 2011

is this for real? they really snuck those banners in?

bye bye, gizmo.

today i attended gizmo’s send off.  i didn’t know gizmo real well, but we had chatted a few times when he was out panhandling.  

many people celebrated the idea of gizmo now residing in a better place.  for one person that included endless beer from the earth and cigarettes from the sky.  for others it was left to the imagination.  for me it was a place somewhat like, i might guess, his later years here on earth.  my understanding is that gizmo moved into the new Our Place (formerly the Open Door ) with the new improved housing option.  it’s not so good as it might be, but it was a bit better than it was.  

he sure had a lot of friends.  

martin luther king jr. endorsed guaranteed livable income solution

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

michael moore wrote this brief history of the usa ....

not really new news, but new to the corporate media audience ....

Gizmo .... and the Peoples' Plan for Pandora

One of the last of Victoria's "Apple Tree Gang," Gizmo, passed away recently. A celebration of his life will be held at Our Place on Friday January 14th, at 1:30 pm. (The Apple Tree no longer exists, either.)

In other, but related, news .... the Victoria Coalition Against Poverty released their Peoples' Plan for Pandora, a research report summarizing conversations with 99 street-involved people about their visions, hopes and ideas for the Pandora 900-block.

And, VCAP is hosting a Teach-In 
January, 17th 2011 at 7 pm at the 
BCGEU Office, 2994 Douglas Street

The “Anti-Poverty Teach-In” aims to inspire, strengthen and connect groups and individuals working on poverty issues in Victoria, on Lekwungen, Esquimalt and WSANEC territories. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Song for Bradley Manning - by David Rovics

tshirts available here
music is on its way....

    Private Manning was an analyst if what they say is true

He was paid to read reports and find the patterns sifting through
As he read the data the patterns did emerge
Patterns that were clear both before and since the Surge
Patterns of abuse of the most horrific kind
Gunning down civilians out of view and out of mind
Gunning down the opposition in the middle of the night
Sending off the scholars to be tortured out of sight
Killing journalists and then maintaining the pretense
That these helicopter gunships were just acting in defense
Sometimes you need desperate measures when you live in desperate times
And Private Manning saw he was looking at war crimes
He wondered what to do to allow the dead to speak
He finally decided to contact Wikileaks
Now it's all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he's not wearing any clothes

Now Adrian Lamo has to live within his skin
He stabbed Bradley in the back, called the cops and turned him in
But not before the soldier took half a million files
If you printed all the pages they'd stretch on for miles
Evidence against the state right from the horse's mouth
Machinations in the west, bombings in the south
A treasure trove of details for all the globe to see
How much they need to lie and kill for democracy
How many drone strikes have hit villages leaving everyone to die
They blamed on someone else – the official line, “Not I”
How many coups have been plotted by ambassadors who say
That free and fair elections be the order of the day
How many governments they've bought, how many people they have sold
To keep themselves warm by the fire, while we're out in the cold
Now it's all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he's not wearing any clothes

Now the Genie's out of the bottle and they're trying to stuff it back
And stop it from illuminating everything we lack
Such as the rule of law or playing by the book
Look you can read it, it's right here, the ship of state is run by crooks
And they vilify the messengers, call them every name
For daring to blow the whistle on the nature of their game
The game of taking lives and endangering the rest
In order for the wealthy few to do what they do best
Dominate the world for the corporate elite
But now their cover's blown from their head down to their feet
And now the stars and stripes is looking much more like a rag
The lid is off the box, the cat's out of the bag
Bradley Manning is in prison in a solitary cell
Now that he's revealed what so many knew too well
Now it's all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he's not wearing any clothes

Saturday, January 1, 2011

the work of christmas begins ...

Quaker Benediction:

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers [and sisters],
To make music in the heart.

(thanks to karen and friends for this)

New Year’s Day 2011

Another New Year, theoretically, a day arbitrarily chosen by historical characters keen on maintaining their particular sense of order. For some this day marks new beginnings, personal commitments to better health and well-being, and for the next month or so various health clubs and community centres will be stuffed full like so many dead turkeys. By the end of the month, though, or March at latest, the sands will have been sifted …. the effort will have been made and the determined will persist while the less so will have perhaps realized that dramatic changes to their lifestyles demand more devotion than a peer pressured first new day effort.

And the “spirit of Christmas,” that brief window into a quasi-socialist distribution of resources, community spirit, and extended family, will fade into the pile of jumbled memories of Christmases past. As the end of month bills arrive, attention will turn from the giving to the paying. The feeling of self satisfaction that accompanies generosity and kindness will be replaced by momentary panic. Was it all really worth it?

The freedom of quiet holiday time will transform into extended work hours, re-engaging the wheels of capitalism, catching up on time lost. The homeless and working poor will return to survival mode, thankful for a few weeks of extra food and gift-giving, too busy with their daily efforts earning rent and feeding the kids to contribute to the significant social movement for change they so desperately need. Pre and post holiday reduced sale prices will give way to shiny new and higher priced 2011 models, as capitalism demands, the perpetual cycle of transformation, mining and harvesting whatever remains of earth’s resources into ever more fun and profit … unattainable goods for those who refuse the enslavement.

For most Canadians, who know no stat holiday until Easter, these next cold months are not easy. Some lucky few will fly to regions south and enjoy a week or two of sunshine - if the heavens allow. Many others will plod through the days, reaching forward through the seemingly neverending winter, thankful at least that daylight hours are increasing. From Jesus’ alleged birth, to his murder, these months are long and painful.

So Happy Gregorian New Year. May all your dreams come true.