Tag Archives: homelessness

Community Guidelines

The topic of homelessness has always spurred controversy and debate – should our tax dollars go to helping those who can’t help themselves? (yes). Are we as a society obligated to help those who are not contributing to the economy? (yes). These harsh perspectives, (unfortunately) cannot be silenced – but they can be greatly reduced if we remove the opportunity to post comments anonymously. Both Konnikova and Suler agree that the freedom to post anonymously makes a poster more comfortable with posting hateful vitriol, intended to inflame and upset the reader.

Thus, while we cannot make it impossible for a poster to post anonymously (people can make burner, or “troll” accounts), we can make it more difficult, forcing people to link their opinions to their Facebook or something similar. Through this, people will still have the option to post abrasive comments, but they will have to post it alongside their faces.

Comments which foster a culture of dehumanization, and do not contribute to a healthy and respectful conversation will not be approved (comments do not appear until approved by admin).

“Were you silenT or were you silencED”

Website Progress

As we near the end of the semester, I’m reflecting on how far my website has come, and what I still want to integrate into the site in the coming weeks, beyond the end of the course.

The learning curve for WordPress was steep and frustrating at times – I remember it took me almost 5 weeks to figure out how to implement a drop-down menu for my “PUB101 section”.

The backend programming end of the website has remained a struggle, but I committed myself to accomplish the tasks set before me – the design changes, the formatting changes, and so on and so forth.

In terms of content posted on the site, I’m mostly happy with what I’ve covered, being a range of educational material (how to respond to an overdose, and a bear spray attack), and recommendations for further reading (Never Enough by Judith Grisel, Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate). I’ve touched on issues like stigmatization in the health care system, recording homeless people for internet fame, and provided links for those experiencing homelessness. I’ve shared a fair few numbers of stories about the people I get to interact with.

Something I want to discuss further is the experiences of Indigenous homeless and street-involved persons, and how their experiences differ from their white counterparts. Part of the reason why I haven’t already explored this topic is it’s an enormous topic, informed by a long history of colonial trauma, displacement, and cultural genocide. Instead of attempting to contributing my perspective to the discourse on this issue, I will amplify the lived experiences and perspectives of Indigenous peoples.

Overall, the experience of building a website has been difficult, but rewarding. Moving past the scope of this course, I will likely keep posting, if nothing else as a means by which to process what I’m exposed to at work.

Art In The Downtown Eastside

Graffiti on the downtown eastside saves lives. For a community disconnected from other sources of news and media, graffiti is regularly used to communicate vital information about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic…

… as well as the overdose epidemic. Often times graffiti alerts people to the quality of the drugs going around the neighborhood that week, often accompanied with messages to not use alone, and to carry Narcan.

The murals are also often used as a form of mourning for specific loved ones as well as the community broadly speaking. Publicizing the impacts of the overdose epidemic serves as an important reminder to the general public of the ongoing epidemic, and reminds people that the homeless and street-involved community are not to be ignored.

Lastly, the murals can be used to advocate for the rights of homeless folks, and drum up political and social motivation surrounding these issues.

After all – is there any more humane quality than creating art from pain?

Transmedia Integration

Breaking up a block of text with images or videos is integral to maintain a readers’ interest in your blog post. As discussed in Kevin, Britteny and Lauren’s blog post on transmedia storytelling, using different mechanisms and platforms to communicate your ideas make your thoughts accessible to a broader network of people. In the listed example, authors discuss the broad range of media used by the Pokemon franchise, spanning collectible and playable cards, movies, TV shows, videogames, apps, and collectible merchandise. This range of means by which to participate in the public surrounding the Pokemon universe is one of the reasons why the franchise is so successful.

This can be integrated on a smaller scale to improve accessibility and boost retention on my website. It would be interesting to incorporate Emily’s idea to mirror the “Humans of New York” concept, and include photos of the people whose stories I am telling. However, this isn’t possible in terms of my residents as it goes against the company policy. I could interview people who aren’t my residents and listen to their stories, but I have a much more trusting relationship with the people I work with and see on a regular basis.

Instead of including photos of people I could include photos of the environment (the streets of the downtown eastside), the art in the community, and the buildings. The art of the downtown eastside is humanizing in and of itself – what is more human than creating art out of suffering?

Response to Peer Review

Emily Sweeney reviewed my website this week and gave me some excellent feedback to think about. I in particular appreciated her feedback about the public I am creating and the audience I am trying to reach with my website. As Michael Warner writes in his essay Publics and Counterpublics, a public is different than the public. Through my website I was trying to address the entire public – the entire internet. Emily pointed out that it may be more effective to target a public, like women, previously homeless folks, or Vancouverites.

I do often have a tendency to “bite off more than I can chew”, trying to address all aspects and perspectives on an issue in an 800 word essay, or address the entire general public with a website. Even knowing this rationally, I am too stubborn to narrow down my population too much (to just women, or to just previously homeless folks). However, narrowing the scope of my blog to just Vancouver is a good compromise between me and the rest of the world.

To change the blog to make it more centred on Vancouver, I will make a few small tweaks in presentation and wording, and the majority of the photos I use will of Vancouver, covering the homeless epidemic locally instead of province- or nation-wide, or globally.

Old Tagline “Our aim is to humanize the dehumanized”
Updated Tagline “Humanizing the Dehumanized in Vancouver, British Colombia”

I’ll also change the tags in each post to put more emphasis on Vancouver, instead of homelessness broadly speaking, and change the “About Me” section of my blog to establish the locale of the blog.

Updated “About Me” Section
Old “About Me” Section