Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our human environment: street people

Here in Vancouver we have a big sustainability problem: we don't sustain interest in some people.

My current gig has me sitting at a desk sits across from a subsidized housing high rise, that is full of skid row-ers. Sounds like a value judgement, and it is. It's also quantifiable: I count 54 windows, and not ONE has curtains on it. Pieces of plywood, towels, plants, flags and signs, sure. There are 2 sets of broken looking blinds, but no curtains.

People who live here have almost no foundation to stand on. Prematurely over the hill. Mentally ill, no job, addicted, in many cases, friendless. Crippled, with very little ability to muster restraint. At least they have a place to live. If they look out now, they can see this guy who's in front of a large flat screen and is getting well paid to tap on a computer - me.

There's a guy that I've been watching on the 5th floor who seems to never wear a shirt. When it's sunny he comes up to the window and presses his big white gut against it. There's a flip up window at eye height; and he sniffs at it like a hamster, and puffs on a cigarette. At first the sight of him repulsed me. But now, as I see him doing this more and more, thoughts change.

The fact is, the sun is out and he's pressing himself up against the glass. No one is different, our children are the same. Pressing themselves against the glass, moving towards God.


(cartoon by gapingvoid)

1 comment:

I Am The Russian Queen said...

JD, U hooked me in w/your descriptions of the "Guy Without A Shirt" and then, the turn, in your perception...and that image - skin to glass/capturing sun...

Homeless in Vancouver and everywhere in the lower mainland - issue, metaphor, undercurrent...

Tx for thinking about me re the link to the Boyden's story - i've never been to New Orleans but one of these days...("busted flat in baton rouge...")

Believe it or Not fact of the day:
Like Joseph Boyden, i've lived in Moosenee, James Bay in N.ON...my parents taught up there with the Cree in the 1960's. Go figure.