Remember the Anti-Poverty Committee? Probably not as they've fallen by the wayside and remain only as the answer to a Millennial trivia quiz. The APC as they were known were the hard core of housing activists whose anarchism resulted in stolen Olympic flags, broken newspaper boxes and a bunch of other stuff taxpayers picked up the tab for. Thankfully, their hypocrisy was all put out on display when BC Housing finally busted DERA for corruption.
What amazed me about that bunch was not their brutality but their sheer lack of wit. I said to myself if these guys had any imagination they'd be able to get their point across without trashing the city in the process. Well, what I imagined back in 2007 seems to be coming to life. The latest incarnation of the social housing activism movement is decidely more clever and media savvy.
This group calls themselves VANACT!, and from what I can gather they're not smashing any Starbucks up for the fun of it. We get press releases sent by this group that are very well composed and sometimes even funny. For example, see this event they're staging on Saturday afternoon:
Ghosts to Ghost Town
Where: Olympic Village Skytrain station (canada line)
Dare to board the train to the haunted Athletes' Village. See the ghosts and spirits of the Village that haunt the sky train station and train, while big real estate struggles to sell "broken promise" units on the skytrain platform.
Now, it's not my idea of a good time, but credit them for some creativity. However, they top themselves with the activities planned for Sunday evening at the Olympic Athlete's Village "Ghost Town"...
Roaming Haunted Village Party: Halloween Night at the Olympic Village
When: Halloween Night - Sunday October 31st 8:30pm–10:30pm
Where: Olympic Village Ghost town, meet at 181 W 1st Avenue
This Halloween Night, come roam the scariest ghost town in Vancouver: The Athletes' Village!
Come in costume! Bring your own fireworks!
*Roaming Sound Systems, glowing pumpkins*
*Costumes and Dancing*
*Live Music - Web Sherriff and others*
Resist Scary Gentrification! Roam the streets of the empty units! Beware, of the giant birds of repression! Meet some of the few condo buyers who dare to live in the haunted village!
Special Appearances by the Ghosts of Affordable Housing, Bob Rennie, Gregor Roberson and the Town Crier!
Now we're talking. Resist gentrification! Look out for Ghosts of Affordable Housing like Mayor Gregor Robertson! Where's Chuck Heston when you need him? He'd take care of all those Ghost Town Ghoulies!
I doubt that there'll be anybody out there to hand out candy though, except possibly Coun. Geoff Meggs.
Like VANACT! itself, my fun tonight will also derive from the Downtown Eastside.
My family and I are heading down to the Rickshaw Theatre just east of Hastings and Main Street to catch Night of the Undead, Lucky 13 + 1 bands for 13 bucks. Old punk favourites such as Rude Norton (Pointed Sticks f**k band alter-ego) and a reunited Vancouver hard core legend Curious George. It's an all ages gig lots of folks in the bands themselves are parents, which is why there will be kids as young as eight along for the ride.
While the Downtown Eastside is still a deeply troubled neighbourhood, it's because of the tenacity of people like the Rickshaw's proprietor David Duprey, who leased and restored the old 700-seat theatre, that the idea of "family entertainment" is actually possible in that part of town again.
Maybe VANACT! can work on building support for local entrepreneurs who want to make communities like the one around Main and Hastings livable and safe again instead of focusing on million dollar condos.
- post by Mike