If you haven’t seen Kevin Chong’s riveting article “Mean Streets” in our August issue about the prostitutes working Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside yet, you can read it here now. Even though serial killer Robert Pickton’s trial exposed the dire situation of Vancouver’s sex workers, Chong’s piece reveals that little has changed since Pickton’s conviction. Many of the women working the Downtown Eastside are still homeless, impoverished, traumatized and discriminated against.
We felt it was important for you to hear from the women themselves, so we asked Vancouver-based photojournalists Simon Hayter and Nicole Wheelhouse (who also shot the magazine photographs) to head back out onto the streets and give us some more insight into what these women’s lives are like. Their comments will break your heart.
– Jen O’Brien
When I was a little girl, my grandparents had the best backyard. They had a swimming pool, a huge tree for climbing, a vegetable garden and more flowers than I imagined possible, at five years old. My brother and sisters and I spent our summers back there, until they sold the house when I was 12, eating watermelon with my grandpa and helping my grandma collect sweet peas from the trellis beside the pool. Those flowers bloomed all summer long, it seemed, never running out of blooms for my grandma’s kitchen table or for us to take home, the stems wrapped in damp paper towel.
I recently moved to a new apartment with a rooftop patio and I was both excited and nervous to try growing my own sweet peas. My gram said “You just need full sun!” (and being on the roof, we definitely have plenty) while my mom added “And a little patience!” (of which I’m usually in short supply). I was sceptical. I have a black thumb. I was the kid who over-watered her little grass seeds in Kindergarten. When plants see me coming, they cower in their pots. But I followed all the directions on the sweet pea seed packet and hovered over them every morning for 2 weeks, looking for little green shoots.
I’m getting to the crafty part, I promise.
My gram wasn’t lying. Full sun and a little patience. After two weeks, I saw those tiny leaves and I now have sprawling seedlings – I might even go so far as to call them actual plants – with long tendrils that entangle themselves with one another instead of growing straight up.
And thus the simple sweet pea trellis. Some balsa wood, a few popsicle sticks and a selection of pretty beads because I’m too impatient to wait for the colour of the flowers and need to have something pretty until they bloom. And just imagine how fun the beads will look winking through the flowers when they DO bloom.
This little screen cost me under $20 (and it would have been under $10 if I hadn’t needed glue).
What you need:
2 3” lengths of balsa wood (I got mine at DeSerres), cut in half
10+ plain extra-wide popsicle sticks
1 jar Outdoor Mod Podge + small paintbrush
Beads, sparkles, etc.
Arrange the balsa wood vertically, about 3 inches apart. Place popsicle sticks in desired pattern, keeping in mind how long you’d like the screen to be. Use the brush to apply Outdoor Mod Podge as glue where the balsa wood and popsicle sticks meet. Hold down at these connectors to allow glue to bond. When you’ve completed the design, glue your beads to the screen wherever you like. You could even use broken china pieces or buttons, if beads aren’t your thing. Allow to dry for at least an hour (I left mine for two) before taking outside. Press the bottom of the screen into the soil, careful not to squish delicate seedlings.
And then we wait. Impatient for the sweet peas to show me the beauty (I obviously say this like Cuba Gooding, Jr. said ‘Show me the money’ in Jerry Maguire).
What if you had to wear the same thing every day for an entire year? Personally, it gives me a bit of a fashion panic attack but if it was for a good cause I’m sure I could learn to accessorize. Let me just preface this by saying this woman has more courage than I.
Starting this past May, Sheena Matheiken name has pledged to wear a black dress for an entire year. She calls it The Uniform Project.
“Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies, ” says Matheiken on her site.
Many people wore uniforms all through school and it didn’t seem to squelch our fashionista tendencies. (Sometimes I’m actually thankful there is less documentation of all previous fashion disasters due to uniforms.)
Eliza Starbuck, Matheiken’s friend and a designer created the soon-to-be-overworn-dresses. She designed the frock out of cotton so it would breathe and so it could be worn a variety of ways: both front and back, and as an open tunic. She then made seven identical versions.
The accessories were found by Matheiken around her city, New York, and you can donate your accessories to the project to keep her looking savvy. You can also check out the site every day where she posts her look. She’s got some great ideas for transforming the same old duds.
Here are a few of my favourites. The one on the far left is day one of the project.
The Uniform Project is a year-long fundraiser with all contributions going toward the Akanksha Foundation’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for slum children in India. Matheiken herself went to school in India, and had to wear a uniform, so she’s once again enacting her stylish touches on her everyday outfit. It’s funny that someone’s childhood uniform in India would later lead them back to where they began. It seems like everything comes full circle.
Now that’s some sustainable fashion.
The cancer is back.
On Friday evening as I was unloading the dishwasher my surgeon called to tell me that the results of the surgical biopsy were positive. I sat down on the kitchen floor with the phone to my ear and a bunch of cutlery in my fist – my daughter napping in her bed upstairs, my husband at work, a rush in my ears like a wave of water drowning out everything…
Hold on. Listen to him. Then speak. Instructions from a part of my brain that I obeyed as best I could.
I asked, “How is it possible that it managed to grow when I have had so much chemo and radiation and I’m still receiving Herceptin treatments every three weeks?”
He said the words “Well, this is bad.” Then said that we needed to come in to talk about it. The rest is a blur.
We don’t know what it means yet. Tomorrow we will meet with him and my other oncologist, and hopefully our questions will be answered. Questions like what is the possible extent of the spread, what will my treatment be, how is this possible, and of course the all-encompassing query: WTF??
We’re in shock, angry, devastated, terrified… All I can think is, NOT AGAIN. And then, How dare you, cancer? Really, how dare you?
Here we go again, just when I thought I could see the finish line.
Happy Monday! And welcome to ‘She’s Crafty!’
I’m so excited to be joining the roster of fabulous blogs on Chatelaine.com, and I am over-the-moon excited to be blogging about one of my favourite things (no, not the Sound of Music): all things crafty.
I have a great line-up of stuff coming your way and I can’t wait to hear about your craft projects, too. So, check back often (I have a fun cheap-and-cheerful under $20 project coming up this week, as well as my favourite DIY websites and the super-fast fact sheet about my love of rubber stamps, sparkles, etc.) and please ALWAYS feel free to send me your comments and ideas.
It’s so nice to meet you!