I just moved in to a really nice, fairly expensive ($1550/month) one bedroom apartment in the DTES, and I’m having a hard time bridging the divide. I needed to be closer to my work and my community, and I’m glad I made the move.
When I walk into my building, I feel like an outsider because the majority of my neighbours have a vision for who should be here, and I’m not it. And then I walk out of my building, and I’m an outsider because I don’t look so much like the original, actual neighbours. And I have the privilege of being white. Which impacts both receptions.
I’m getting by with offering up artist accommodation (I can leverage sleeping at my huge-ticket commercial space, and I recognize that privilege and responsibility) and animal care to make up for my low income, while I fight for what could be. I can’t get income subsidy because I’m not an artist or a neighbour. I realize that means I should be able to earn enough to afford to live here. But it’s a constant hustle. And I’m not a good capitalist.
I’m inspired by recent initiatives like STAY – but how can we expect folks to stay, in this environment?
I’m willing to fight like hell, because it’s in my nature, possibly. Or maybe that’s settler mentality. And is there somewhere I could fight this hard for something that benefits more people? People with fewer unearned advantages?
How can I continue this way? What’s in it for me? And for you? I’ve built strong connections in community, and what do they gain me, or you? A walk-in part in the war, a lead role in the cage?
If I’m struggling to find the capacity to fight this hard, how can someone with less privilege and advantage be expected to persevere? What kind of city are we building?
I’m deeply troubled by the trajectory of our city and my part in it.
What can we do?
I’m not seeking sympathy that as a white person of privilege, I can find a way to live in a nice place in the country’s poorest area code. I’m fortunate, and I know it. I’m sincerely asking how to navigate this moment and experience with respect.
I hope you don’t miss the message in my clumsiness. The question is, how do we find a way to occupy space equitably and together, given the seemingly unstoppable forces of capitalism and urbanism? How do we overcome the dialogue about who should be where and get on to what should be provided for everyone?