The Week — July 7

Rosey good gossip for Street Newz, homeless advocate comes to town, BC Hydro not-so-smart meters, Fan Tan Alley in trouble?

First Nations homeless advocate Rose Henry is going to Scotland to receive an award for her reporting in Victoria Street Newz — but she needs community help to get there.

Rosey good gossip for Street Newz

Victoria’s favourite homeless advocate and First Nations activist Rose Henry has some big news coming up in a few weeks, but she’s still looking for community help to make it happen.

Henry, 54, has been nominated — and placed in the finals — for a prestigious award for homeless advocacy through an article she wrote on economic violence in Victoria Street Newz last December.

The award would be presented to Henry at the International Network of Street newspapers conference. The only catch? It’s being held in Glasgow, Scotland this year, between July 17 and 25 — and Henry is still trying to garner up enough funds to cinch her ticket over. The cost will be close to $3,000, and nearly $2,000 has been community raised, while the conference granted Henry a $300 scholarship.

“People have been donating $10 and $20, and that really makes a difference, we’re really doing it, but we haven’t seen any big corporate sponsorships yet, and that’s what we really need right now,” says Henry. “I do have a personal wish list, like a camera and a computer with a webcam I can Skype with — those are some things I can’t afford. Of course, if we were really talking wish lists, it would really be to finding housing for everyone.”

Along with her award, Henry will participate in various workshops and will network with representatives from newspapers around the world. Last year, Henry was chosen as Street Newz’ delegate to send to the North America Street Newspaper Association conference held in Chicago.

“[Trips like this] are a real struggle for people like me who don’t have a credit card, or a steady income … but we have to give ourselves permission to move forward sometimes, and this is worth it — there are positive stories out there, and it’s worth it to go to new places to find new solutions.”

To help fund Henry’s trip, or to donate supplies, visit Victoria Street Newz at relativenewz.ca, or contact Henry at rose@homelessnation.org.

Homeless advocates, ho!

Speaking of homelessness, international homeless advocate and social media maven Mark Horvath made a guest appearance in Victoria this past week. He was here to chat with Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and the city, and to film a few stories from our own local homeless community.

“When we think homlessness we all picture the guy holding the cardboard sign, but the truth is, that’s only the tip of it,” says Horvath, a Los Angeles resident who will spend three months touring Canada to learn about cross-border homelessness. “We’re all so curious about those people, and what got them there, but we’re too shy to ask, or to just get involved and say how are you doing?”

Horvath is known for his own time on the streets before building a social media empire: one website created to show the public real video stories from homeless individuals (invisiblepeople.tv), and one designed to help homeless people become active on social media sites (wearevisible.com).

“[The project] is changing perspectives worldwide, and we have to realize we all have the power to do something about this, no matter our economic place in society,” Horvath says.

Hydro not-so-smart meters

Island residents are getting more than a little squeaked out by BC Hydro’s plans to install wireless “Smart Meters” and WiMAX Grids in the coming months to replace the older, manually read meters.

The meters are planned for mandatory installation in Victoria in August, and earlier in other locations, though residents have fears over the assumed radio frequency electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted from the meters — one month ago the World Health Organization deemed EMR as Class 2B carcinogenic, the same category as lead and DDT. Privacy, billing increases and a lack of transparency in BC Hydro’s plans are also concerns. BC Hydro was not available for comment by press time.

In an effort to push back, Salt Spring Island residents are planning a protest Saturday, July 9, at 10:30 a.m. in Centennial Park on Salt Spring. For more, see the Gulf Islanders for Safe Technology site at gifst.ca.

Fan Tan Alley jeopardized

The store keepers of Fan Tan Alley are planning to periodically lock alley gates between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, to protest a two-storey addition and alteration the city has planned for the historic site. The next council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 7, to address the Heritage Alteration Permit. M

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