I have been having some thoughts about moving, and what it is that i like or don’t like about my neighbourhood. Today when i was walking around i decided to list at least 40 things i liked about east vancouver.
1) it’s a good neighbourhood for walking around and thinking about society
2) the chinese gardeners have taught me a lot about space-intensive gardening
3) the frogs in the charles street alley (i can hear them from my room at night)
4) it’s a 20 minute drive to lynn headwaters in north van – which is like being way out in the middle of nowhere
5) eating gelato while walking on the train tracks
6) the buddhist vegetarian restaurant
7) the free side of sun yat sen gardens
8) wild bamboo growing all over the place
9) the fact that people sell stuff on the sidewalks in several parts of the neighbourhood
10) free boxes left out after yard sales
11) good radical graffitti
12) hearing the trains whistle at night as they pull into the yard
13) lots of urban wildlife (coyotes, birds, rats, raccoons)
14) stratcona community garden & bird sanctuary
15) the look on people’s faces when you tell them you live in east vancouver
16) the least heard language on public transit is english
17) the world cup (soccer) parties every four years are *great* fun no matter who wins
18) best coffee in the city, most independent coffee shops of any neighbourhood
19) the WISE hall
20) great view of the north shore mountains
21) people smoke pot on the street, it’s not a big deal
22) watching the old italian men play bocci and swear at each other
23) when the starbucks moved in on commercial, people picketed it
24) the carnival band marching every monday night up and down the drive
25) all my friends live on this side of town
26) the vehicle impound lot under the viaduct (cars in various states of destruction, abandoned and waiting for their owners)
27) people selling art on the street
28) good and cheap restaurants – with lots of vegetarian options
29) the italian gardeners have taught me a lot about dealing with tomato blight
30) this is where the Vancouver 5 (also known as Direct Action) hatched their plans back in the early 80s
31) the saturday farmer’s market
32) people who have planted beautiful gardens in the city-owned strip on the other side of the sidewalks – there is a whole block in my part of the ‘hood that is almost like a forest path because of this catching on….
33) more grow-ops than you can shake a stick at
34) mosaic park at charles and odlum – the grass almost never gets cut there
35) loads of fresh mint, lemon balm, rosemary and sage for the picking (lots of gardens everywhere)
36) the sound of martial arts classes in the upstairs rooms in chinatown in the early evening
37) the buddhist temple on georgia street
38) the rogers sugar factory below hastings – a victoria-era factory still in operation (though it looks like it should be shut down)
39) old chinese women doing chi quong in the parks in the early morning
40) the street mosaic in strathcona that is a dedicated to the “militant mothers of raymur”
had a terrible computer incident yesterday – one that i will never recover all the data from unfortunately. if you are a friend reading this, please email me your contact information (email address and phone number) so i can re-add you to my address book.
on a plus side – each time i have a data crash, i am reminded how fallible the networks our society rests on actually are….
will write more later – i am currently watching a software demo (of something called the Activist Mobilization Platform) being done by a friend.
have been doing some research this afternoon for a grievance/ human rights case i am working on involving a workplace member with a head injury which has brought me to some interesting policy and case law. one of the avenues that i am exploring (only discovered today) is the concept of the right to “dignity of risk”.
dignity of risk appears to generally be an argument used in cases where individuals are assessed to have cognitive impairments – including mental illness, developmental issues, and neuro-injuries that are deemed to have caused long-term harm – cases where individuals are traditionally been denied the right to make decisions for themselves on the grounds that they are not able to make reasoned and informed choices, thus putting themselves at risk.
the concept is very simple – it hinges on the right to assume personal risk and thus make decisions for oneself – and proponents for this right argue that the only way we do develop, learn and grow as beings is through taking risks and failing or suceeding in the decisions we make every day. if this essential part of our being is taken away from us, then we are stunted – and to take it away from others amounts to a cruel discrimination which curtails all sorts of opportunities afforded to others every day.
the reality is – people who are classed as “normal” in mental functioning – are allowed to make their own decisions and take their own risks all the time – no matter how ridiculous they are, or how often they fail to learn from past mistakes. once you reach adulthood, there is virtually nothing stopping you from making really bad choices – unless you become classed as the “other” and thus incapable of looking after oneself.
it is true that some impairments are so severe as to put an individual at risk if they were not to be assisted in their decision making – but in so many cases, people with head injuries, developmental disabilities or mental illness are more than capable of making decisions in their own best interest – if only society would grant them the chance. there is such a great stigma attached to even slight mental impairments – as though we must return people to a state of childhood dependence rather than learn to deal with them on their terms. i suppose it is easier for us to take agency away from others than to adapt our own wants in a situation of relating to them. in this case i am working on, i really do feel that this is the situation – and so there is an undercurrent of every day discrimination that threatens to force this person from their job as if they are forever incapable because of an accident that impaired some functions (but not most of them).
dignity of risk is one of the arguments that might work in a case like this though, which is why i’m working late, trying to locate case law that might apply in a situation like this…. thought i would post my thoughts here as i worked through them.
today i’m thinking about the expression of “worry” as a form of control over someone else. i used to believe that to verbalize worry for someone was an aspect of showing love or concern for their well-being, and that if someone “worried” about this or that aspect of my life it was only because they wanted the best thing for me.
but in recent months (through a lot of inner exploration) i’ve come to the conclusion that this expression of worry is often (though not always) a tool used to manipulate the other into doing what we want them to. “i’m worried about you” seems to be another way of saying “i don’t like what you are doing, and see what type of emotional strain it is putting on me (making me worry all the time) – so stop it now or you should feel guilty about it.” wow – that’s a powerful way of getting what you want out of someone, by putting the onus of change entirely on them rather than examining whether there is any real basis to have a fear or worry for them.
worrying in a general sense is a feeling of being out of control, or having a need to control one’s own situation – and i think this extends to a tendency to use it as a controlling weapon against others. i know now that this has been used against me in order to shake me out of making my own decisions, and to “put me in my place” as a daughter or as a lover when i have expressed my desire to do my own thing. in exploring how it has been used against me, i can see how i have used it against others in my life as well in order to exert control over the relationships i fear losing most.
i think if i can break the pattern of responding to those in my life who say “i’m worried about you” to me, then i can break the pattern of “worrying” about others – since fretting does little to actually change a situation, and even if it did, would be produced through manipulation which is not what loving and supportive relationships are based on. this is something i am going to explore in the next while.
as an old swedish proverb says “worry gives a small thing a big shadow, ” and that shadow casts a dark cloud on all aspects of our lives, particularly those who we love.
Kurt Vonnegut – one of my all-time favourite authors – the further on he gets in years, the straighter he tells it…. check out his recent opinion piece in In These Times –