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As a reader of Megaphone magazine, you are helping support Vancouver’s homeless and low income community. But in order for Megaphone to continue growing, we need to hear from you.
Every few years we ask our readers for feedback on the magazine, the vendor program and what we can do to make you a more committed reader and supporter of Megaphone magazine and our vendors.
It’s readers like you who provide us with the information we need to keep Megaphone relevant. You know why you buy the magazine—we’d like you to share your opinions about what’s working and what you’d like to see changed in Megaphone.
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* Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Kessler autographed hockey puck
* Mount Seymour snowshoe passes
* Tickets to Chelsea Hotel—The Songs of Leonard Cohen at Firehall Arts Centre
* Two-month unlimited pass to Open Door Yoga
* Gift certificates to Nuba, Havana, Tangent Cafe
Thank you for your time and support.
Two women chop vegetables at a large central table in a tight common kitchen, chatting as they gently drop celery and red peppers into a central bowl, destined for snacks during upcoming community programs. A stream of younger women move in and out of the space from the other rooms at Imouto Housing for Young Women, talking happily with each other.
“What a beautiful place it is!” Gayle, one of the snack-preparers tells me. “I love the opportunity for community with the other women, because we have so much in common.”
Mostly, however, Gayle (who only provided her first name) loves having her own home. She says she had been “travelling around a lot,” staying with friends or nannying her granddaughter. In late November, she moved into a corrugated metal shipping container on the adjacent Atira-owned property.
Operated by Atira Women’s Resource Society, the 12 shipping containers stacked three storeys high at 502 Alexander St. in Vancouver are finally full of tenants five months after opening their doors on September 1.
At 280 to 290 square feet, each suite is a self-contained home with wood laminate flooring, a separate entrance, its own bathroom and—best of all, three tenants told me—a European- style combined washer-dryer machine. In each unit, a full container wall has been replaced by a giant window, many with perfect views of the harbour or the complex’s central courtyard garden.
“I love that it’s my own space,” Gayle says, laughing heartily. “Just walking in through your door, [your neighbours] invite you over for tea.”
Across the Imouto kitchen table, Ahjahla Nelson chimes in. She used to live in co-operative housing, but gave up her apartment for a friend and moved here in October.
“When I saw the container home, I’d been thinking of a trailer or treehouse or something,” she recalls. “It was like a dream come true. Being able to enter your place from the outside has a real home-feeling to it. It just felt like it was built for me.”
Media attention may have dropped away since Atira did a flurry of interviews about the then-empty containers last August. But as they’ve filled with tenants—six units for older women who serve as “intergenerational mentors” to six younger women— the windows have become cluttered with knick-knacks and personal decorations, and the common kitchen at neighbouring Imouto is getting busier, even though each container has its own kitchen space.
Community, it seems, is forming.
After the media excitement over Vancouver’s first shipping container housing died down last fall, the buzz on Atira Women’s Resource Management’s innovative project went silent. But in Megaphone Issue #148 we open the doors and ask the 12 women living inside—and the women who work with them—what it’s like now that they’ve moved in, unpacked, and called it home.
Also in this issue: a viral video of low-income people subjected to violence for cash is sign of a dangerous attitude towards poverty; a new government/YWCA pilot program aims to prepare foster kids for self-sufficient adulthood; the Sochi Olympics are hard to swallow when we remember the broken promises of a socially responsible Vancouver games; increasing alcohol availability increases consumption, but also government’s opportunity to fight alcoholism; and much, much more!
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