Bridging the Divide
I came to Boyle Street 10 years ago, full of hope and optimism. My old friends in Oliver told me I was moving to skid row. I begged to differ. I told them that the homeless people they were referring to were just the same as the rest of us, just less fortunate. I expounded that the people living under these unfortunate conditions had every right to share the neighbourhood. If they were treated with respect, they would in turn treat others with respect.
When I first moved here I ran into many people who were eager to be helpful. Instead of asking for a handout like the homeless in Oliver, these people were asking if I had work for them. If I was raking leaves, they would ask if they could do it for me. When I struggled with the lawnmower, the men from Urban Manor stopped to help. I was thoroughly enchanted with the spirit of the area.
But over the years I’ve had several large pieces taken from my porch: statues, chairs, art, and other things of sentimental value. How does someone justify taking something that isn’t theirs? When the brother of someone who did odd jobs for me defrauded me out of a substantial amount of money, he told someone, “It’s okay, she’s got a lot of money.” NOT.
Maybe some people think they got the short end of the stick, that they have the right to make up for it by taking from those they think have some to spare. The trouble is that a person can never know the struggle of others when those misfortunes are not evident.
How did things change in the neighbourhood I call home? When did the gulf between the “haves” and the “have-nots” become so wide? How do we reverse the trend? I’m aware that people who used to congregate in the Ice District have been forced out of that area. We now have more of the homeless in our neighbourhood. How do we convince our new neighbours to treat all of us with a little respect? I always thought that kindness would bring kindness in response. Is there something that we’re not doing as a community that would bridge the divide?
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.