Newsletter Issue 4
At the beginning of January, when Bobbie Phillips asked me to take over the coordination of the housing stands for St. Andrew’s Wesley, she told me that it never rains on these events, and so far it’s true. While we have had one or more stands each month since then, most of the days have been sunny, although January’s frost nipped some toes. Sponsored by the Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group, the housing stands aim to raise political consciousness and public awareness of housing as a human right and to reveal the need for housing of all types (supportive housing, affordable housing, etc.). Stands are organized by various community and faith groups across the B.C., so that on any one of the chosen Saturdays, as many as 70 stands are being held across the province at the same time.
The stands involve having participants wear a turquoise blue scarf and hold banners and hand out pamphlets (all provided) that reveal some statistics and explain the need for housing in the city and throughout the province. As the stands are only one hour long (from 1:00 to 2:00 pm), they are not onerous, in fact they are fun, give a sense of bonding amongst participants, and feel worthwhile, especially when cars honk and wave in support as they drive by. The regular St. Andrew’s Wesley stands have involved anywhere from seven to 15 people each, and have featured from one to three signs covering from one to three corners of the intersection outside the church. Because housing was such a central issue in this spring’s provincial election, people from the community joined members of the congregation in the housing stands helping to get this important message out regarding the urgent need for housing. At one of our stands, our MLA for the West End, Spencer Herbert, who without a name tag or election markings helped us hand out brochures-brochures produced by the city-wide housing coalition that are used by all the stands in the province.
In addition to the monthly stands, the Grand March for Houising on April 4 attracted participants from across the city. About 30 people from the congregation participated in this related event in walking with banners from the south end of the Burrard Bridge to the Vancouver Art Gallery where people stood shoulder to shoulder on the lawn listening to speakers addressing housing issues. In order to promote this event,a few days earlier it was preceded by a media panel discussion sponsors of the March. This event was moderated by Rev. Gary Paterson in St. Andrew’s-Wesley’s chapel.
The next provincial housing stand that St. Andrew’s Wesley is participating in is on June 6 at 1:00 pm outside the church at the corner of Nelson and Burrard. Hope you will join us!