On Thursday evening, I and some of the other COPE candidates attended the Theatre in the Raw production of "Bruce, the Musical" by Bob Sarti, with music by Earle Peach and Bill Sample.  It’s at the Russian Hall at 600 Campbell in Strathcona until November 16 and well worth seeing.

Bruce Eriksen was a founder of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association and later a COPE City Councillor (1980-1993).   The play covers the years during the 1970’s when Eriksen, Libby Davies, and Jean Swanson fought for the rights of Downtown Eastside residents and also to have the DTES recognized by City Council, and the people of Vancouver, as a neighbourhood and not "skid row" as it was sometimes referred to.  The second act of the play focusses on the fight to have the old Carnegie Library at Main and Hastings converted to a community centre for people of the DTES to gather and meet, rather than having to resort to pubs.

Some of the people in the audience had lived – and in some cases, still live – in the Downtown Eastside.  During the second act, I could hear people behind me saying "That’s right" and "Oh, remember…" and making soft exclamations of recognition.  They had clearly lived through the fight to have Carnegie converted to a community centre, and even 30 years later, it still had emotional resonance.

Carnegie Community Centre gives people in the Downtown Eastside a place to go to meet and chat and play cards or read or get involved in other activities in the community centre.  However, it provides more than that – it is a symbol of the Downtown Eastside as a neighbourhood, and its residents are part of a community – their neighbourhood is their home, it is where their friends are, and it has Carnegie as its hub.  For all the poverty and substance addiction that still exist in the DTES, when we respect this neighbourhood and its residents, we are recognizing that hope for a better tomorrow has its roots in the community itself.

Thursday, November 6 – Bruce, the Musical, and Carnegie Community Centre

2 thoughts on “Thursday, November 6 – Bruce, the Musical, and Carnegie Community Centre

  • December 9, 2015 at 8:21 am
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    I read the blog comments on the mess’ the DTES is still in relgdraess of the millions of dollars that have been poured into the area. I don’t live in the DTES, so I can’t comment on whether things are better or worse. What really shocked me was when I read the newspaper article linked to the blog regarding the inquiry into the missing women. I came to a point where there was testimony regarding a lack of addiction treatment beds in the province. In fact, it was quoted that there were only six beds in the province for addicted women.’ That is where my eyes stopped. I have worked with addicts for many years and I do a large amount of assessment and referral to treatment. The quoted statements in the newspaper article are entirely incorrect. There are plenty of treatment beds for addicted women in this province and I seldom wait more than a few days for my referral client to get into treatment. It is a real shame that such inaccurate information is being touted as fact, as it will lead communities to start spilling money into creating new treatment centres when plenty of great treatment programs are already running and have available beds. Why re-invent the wheel? To me, it is just a way of deflecting the real issues. That’s a subject far too lengthy for this blog. In closing, I’d say that the police in the DTES have made a difference relgdraess of what anyone thinks .as although I may work in a different BC community -even I can see the the relationships built and time invested by the police with those suffering from addiction has already begun a catalyst for change in the ideals of society when it comes to addicts. My hats go off to them for their tireless work in this marginalized neighbourhood. You have made a difference.

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    • December 19, 2015 at 11:35 am
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      Are you aware that the post you are responding to a post from 2008?

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