Justice Rocks in the beautiful open fields of Strathcona park and the Latin Festival situated at picturesque Trout Lake nearby. Also on the agenda– the Salsa Fest in downtown Vancouver, the Blueberry Festival and the Chariot Parade Festival of India a few cities over. From 11 am to 11pm – my Sunday was planned!
Shame about the sleeping in part though. I’ve learned that you can’t plan for 11am events and stay out way past 3am the night before. No matter how good the music is and no matter how much fun the people are and especially ESPECIALLY no matter how freely the drinks are flowing. 11am will still come @ 11am. Sigh. Waking up at the crack of 1:37pm, I eventually headed out to seize the day at around 3pm (after stopping for a coffee first).
Bring on the day! First up, Justice Rocks:
Justice Rocks: Featuring live music shows, interactive social justice presentations and festival fun. A park shakedown in the sunshine
As penance for my previous night’s overindulgences, Justice Rocks was the perfect place to go. Although touted as a fun summer event, its various booths and presentations stirred your emotions from shame to guilt, and from passion for change to anger -not what I’d call ‘fun Sunday feelings’ (if I wanted to feel guilt, shame and remorse on a Sunday, I’d still go to church!).
The two issues that caught my eye the most were homelessness and poverty. I liked that each booth directed you to do something if you wanted to assist the organization. Whether it was to simply sign a petition to be sent to the powers that be (Santa?) or donating to their cause and joining and supporting their action group, they had something for everyone to do at any level.
Most surprising to me – an amnesty international booth that showcased a small, 10 by 10 shack (or smaller!) which serves as a home for several people in poorer nations. These shacks lack electricity and plumbing and any other basic necessities.
Funny enough, if this shack were placed in Yaletown (an upscale area in downtown Vancouver) it would go for $800! So what this all really means is location, location, location.
My Solution: Simply move these shacks to upscale neighbourhoods and their values will increase exponentially!
Amnesty’s Solution: Housing is a right. Donate, join or take action today
Next, walking past the Redtents.org booth, I was immediately taken aback by their banner: Ending homelessness would save Canada more than 2 Billion per year. As a business major, this definitely caught my eye and I searched further for proof of their claims.
Red Tent is national campaign that invites the participation of all persons and organizations wishing to end homelessness in Canada.
From the RedTent.org website, we learn how they get to the $2billion amount: According to a 2001 study, the combined service and shelter costs for an average homeless person in Canada are $10,000 higher than the combined service and housing costs for an average housed person.
$10,000 per homeless person per year
X 200,000 homeless in Canada (very low estimate)
=$2 billion spent needlessly per year
Hmmm. Interesting theory. It would be cool if we had a couple billion dollars hanging around and could just make it happen. Homes for everyone! I’ll take a Yaletown shack please. I hear they’re very popular in other countries…
Latin Summer Fest: To Promote Latin Culture in a one-day outdoor festival, through its colourful spirit, arts, culture and food
As a reward for my previous night’s overindulgences, the Latin Festival was the perfect place to go. Walking up to it from several blocks away, I could already hear the staccato beats of Spanish music in the air. This festival featured 2 stages and 2 dance floors because they know their audience well – we like to dance. Unfortunately it was so hot out that the dance floors, which were poorly located in the hot, hot sun, remained vacant. People were still dancing of course – just from under the cool shade of nearby trees or under the awnings of various food vendors.
After checking out the many booths (clothing, jewelery, knick knacks, etc.) I finally got into the spirit by ingesting as much Latin food as possible: corn tortillas, chips and salsa, tacos, carne asada, pupusas, quesadillas, churros, and of course the always popular and well known Latin dessert – fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm.
Belly full, we waddled to the presentation stage where Mexican dancers performed the traditional hat dance. Their dancing was great but I was more impressed by their ability to do it in full Mexican dress and in 26+degree weather. Ay dios mio.
By this hour there was no time (or desire) to visit any other festivals/events/causes for the day. The two festivals I did get to attend were interesting in their own rights but complete opposites. Where one focused on social issues and empowerment, the other focused on food and fun. Justice Rocks tried to create a light mood within a summer festival atmosphere but no matter how hard you try, it’s hard to make homelessness and poverty fun…
Even in a great location.
Pupusas Images: http://www.wpclipart.com