- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Greystone Books; First Edition 1st Printing edition (Sept. 28 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1553652983
- ISBN-13: 978-1553652984
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Thousand Dreams Paperback – Sep 28 2009
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"In a clear and compelling fashion, [A Thousand Dreams] is a case for governments and communities to work together, to think 'outside the box' and to achieve longer-lasting solutions for complex social problems." (Vancouver Sun 2010-12-06)
"[A Thousand Dreams] is enjoyable to read and very informative, and anyone interested in the DES in general and the events of the last twenty years in particular should read it...If the DES has a thousand dreams, it also has ten thousand voices." (BC Studies 2011-05-01)
"[A Thousand Dreams] offers a history of the Downtown Eastside, once the glamorous center of Vancouver' s nightlife, to today, when crime, homelessness and the combination of metal illness and drug addiction are thickly woven into the fabric of the neighborhood." (The Province 2009-11-06)
"[A Thousand Dreams] looks at key moments that helped make the Downtown Eastside the way it is today, such as how drug addiction took a turn for the worse in the 80' s and early 90' s, as well as the founding of the nations first supervised injection site." (CKWX-AM 2009-11-08)
"The real take-away from [A Thousand Dreams] is that it provides a close-up look at how the Downtown Eastside, for all its seemingly intractable problems, manages to function like a genuine community, filled with people who have devoted themselves with extraordinary energy to a place they call home, warts and all." (Literary Review of Canada 2010-05-01)
"Thousand Dreams focuses on challenges understood by most Canadians -- ineffective RCMP funding, back-room maneuvering, high-rise developments, Da Vinci's Inquest -- not cat food for dinner, a dirty needle for dessert or a damp parking garage for a bed. The remarkable stories are about the activists, writers, organizers and health professionals who fight for the future of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside." (Rabble.ca 2010-02-11)
About the Author
Lori Culbert is an award-winning journalist with the Vancouver Sun. She has spent years writing about the Downtown Eastside, including the trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton.
Top customer reviews
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Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is the dirty not-so-secret-secret of the city. An area that everyone has an opinion about, but few actually do anything about, or know enough to make an informed opinion about those that live there. That is where a book like A Thousand Dreams comes in. It's a fantastic history of the creation, formation, fall, and attempted rejuvenation of the area known as the Downtown Eastside. From the very beginning when it was the centre of the commercial city of Vancouver, to now where it is the centre of the drug and HIV world in the city.
The history is complex, heartbreaking, but also one of resilience, of community coming together to support each other and make change (however glacial). The book details the housing crisis; Expo 86; the introduction to the streets of heroin, cocaine and finally crystal meth; the introduction of harm reduction policies; the welfare cuts of the Liberal party; the ignorance of the federal Conversatives regarding Insite--the safe injection site; and finally, the last chapter details some solutions for the future.
However, since Larry Cambpell, who the history follows for a long time as he was BC coroner and then mayor, is a writer of this book I wondered at times whether certain information was biased or filtered coming in. This was heightened when the 2010 Olympics was just brushed aside as a topic (Campbell was the mayor that won the Olympic bid after all) of concern for Downtown Eastside residents. To his credit, he did portray the more unflattering sides of himself occasionally, and talk about how he was wrong in certain ways of thinking, such as his evolution into agreeing with the policies of harm reduction and seeing drug abuse as a health problem and not a criminal one.
Overall, this is an excellent book on the Downtown Eastside. If you are interested in learning more about the area, then I urge you to pick up this book.
In so many respects, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside--the book's focus--is the meeting place and fulcrum of Vancouver's future. Having served as the original center of the city in its pioneering days, it has been marginalized by the successes of the "Living First" downtown strategy of replacing commercial growth with high-tower residential development partly reflected and partly complemented by the mega-projects ensconced around the False Creek inlet. In this sense, the book's subtitle would have better encapsulated the crucial role of the Downtown Eastside not as "the fight for its future' but the struggle for Vancouver's heart and soul and thus the whole community's future. The Downtown Eastside is a microcosm of what Vancouver still is but denies and what the Downtown Eastside must become if Vancouver is to achieve what it truly wants to be.
Campbell, Boyd, and Culbert's socio-history does much to overcome the myths of this often forgotten or neglected segment of Vancouver. Among others, they show how in the context of sometimes horrific conditions, the Downtown Eastside maintains the vestiges of a community and shows surprising resilience in the social relationships and aspirations of its dwellers. The authors combine their abundant talents and experiences as politico, criminologist and journalist to produce an always poignant, often gritty, and profoundly realistic picture of the halting progress and frequent retreats in urban policy to rehabilitate this polyglot community of inhabitants whose present still bears the traces and tokens of its glorious and celebrated past. In the process, they inject themselves and their autobiographical experiences in understanding and participating in the daily drama of the Downtown Eastside without distorting the historical and public record. Sweeping aside the sterility of law-and-order nostrums for treating the fallout of homelessness, drug use, and the HIV epidemic in this neighborhood, they gradually turn to grassroots efforts to emulate and build upon more successful and humane practices of harm reduction imported from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany--practices and policies that strive to redeem the humanity of its many inhabitants and recognize a sense of dignity in the lives of Downtown Eastside citizens who by choice and circumstance have come to reside there. As they negotiate the travails of living amidst poverty, inadequate housing, mental illness, increasingly lethal drugs, and the looming threat of gentrification and "urban removal," these often courageous men and women seek after the roots of rebellion and affirmation among their local poets and within the neighborhood's organic leadership ranks who continue to work to fashion creative means of protest of the Downtown Eastside that is and celebration of the Downtown Eastside that must be.
The lingering question posed by this book is where the citywide leadership will emerge to confront and surmount the structural bases of the Downtown Eastside and in so doing translate those thousand dreams into urban realities worthy of Vancouver's world-class reputation and utopian promotional scripting.