By Bart Campbell
FINALIST, HUBERT EVANS NON-FICTION PRIZE
The Door is Open is a compassionate, reflective, and informative memoir approximately three-and-a-half years spent volunteering at a skid row drop-in centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In a space most famed for its surprising social ills, and the excellence of protecting the country's "very poorest ahead sortation zone of all 7,000 postal prefixes," Bart Campbell dismantles our hard-held notions approximately poverty, the disenfranchised, substance abuse, and the character of charity. The Door is Open is the tale of 1 transformative trip throughout the advanced and intricate global of poverty.
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Much of their strength stems from their ability to reach into the poorest sections of society and, simply by giving food and clothing and a cheerful daily greeting, provide real solace. Soup kitchen workers regularly work in situations where they are outnumbered 200 to 1 by “guests” whom most of society labels as unstable and dangerous. This would seem to be very stressful but it seldom is. Every soup kitchen, when it opens its doors and feeds as many hungry people as it can without infantilizing stuff like forms, eligibility requirements, or demands for change, creates an instantaneous sense of community.
After that, four panel members were supposed to give five-minute speeches about each of the “pillars” of the strategy. But when it was time to speak about Enforcement, the police department representative announced: “The Vancouver Police will 62 THE DOOR IS OPEN not support three of the thirty-plus recommendations. We cannot allow safe consumption facilities. Nor will the police department publicly announce street drug testing results. ” And then the video camera was turned towards the microphone stand at the back of the room where people had lined up to speak and ask questions.
But usually not a lot of mourners come, so Brother Tim sometimes asks drop-in centre volunteers to stand in as a congregation. This evening’s funeral was for a handsome twenty-four-year-old man. His mother’s short, sad eulogy went precisely as follows: “In a way I’m glad he’s dead. At least now I can go to sleep at night a little easier because I know where he is. And I can buy a new TV because I know he won’t steal it. ” CHAPTER THREE Rice Wine, Heroin, and Crack “. . of a thousand dreams of a thousand hopes of a thousand yearnings for real community lost to us but memorialized today brought finally into a unity here in this community park this park which is the geographical heart of the downtown eastside these thousand crosses are a protest against the abandonment of powerless and voiceless human beings .
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