What to do with a bleeding community….

Hi all,

Where do I begin?

Vancouver is my home, and has been for 3 years. I love the Canucks. I consider myself a Canucks fan, though some might call me a bandwagoner. Usually I think to myself, “a fan is a fan is a fan…” in response to this bandwagoner mumbo jumbo – but not last night, not today.

When 3rd period ended last night, I immediately turned the TV off to avoid watching winning team celebrations. Then my boyfriend, cousin, and I decided to watch a funny movie to cheer us up and keep the good times rolling. Oddly enough, not once did it cross my mind to set fire to vehicles, smash business’ windows, cause harm to strangers, and rob stores. It did cross my mind, however, to turn the TV back on and ensure the fans in Rogers Arena were giving the Canucks the support they deserve for a hard season – and they were. I risked seeing Chara hold the cup to do it!

So we watched a stupid movie and attempted to play a drinking game (I gave up way early), and as we did so, my cousin started to see photos of police car fires on her phone. Then my mom called, up late in Ontario, because my parents were worried I had gone downtown for the game. Nothing sobers you up like a call from across the country telling you your city is being literally burnt and smashed (and you’re sitting there like a sucker watching Dodgeball).

So I told my mom that we had planned in-advance to go downtown if we won, but we knew to stay away if we lost. Isn’t that pathetic – that I had assumed days before game 7 that violence would most likely brake out if we lost? I’d heard about the ’94 riot and I saw the aftermath of the bits of Olympic hooliganery last year. I didn’t know how “right” I’d be to stay away from downtown last night. It was despicable. I was disgusted and ashamed of these “fellow citizens”.

I am so frustrated by the fact I saw footage of two grown men, both wearing official Canucks jerseys, fighting each other. I saw Luongo jerseys and Canucks tshirts standing proudly atop overturned cars. I so badly want to brush off these rioters and troublemakers as saying they are not real fans, but …don’t those jerseys cost a pretty penny? So hey, maybe they are fans, maybe they watch hockey on a regular basis, but did they really go downtown to be supportive of their team and city? Not for a second. On twitter, coming from the fingertips of folks who were downtown last night, it was reported that many people had balaclavas ready to go as soon as the game ended…to which I ask what was on these idiots’ minds last night? Did they give a shit what happened in the game? I think they saw a huge excuse, in the name of which they had pre-planned to take out their shitty life frustrations on the rest of us.

The point I’m slowly making my way towards, nestled into a blog about knitting and crocheting, is that I don’t know what to do now. What the hell do I do for my community now? Would an oddly-placed crocheted square really brighten anybody’s day today?

This morning I woke up and did what I ended up doing last night, well past my bedtime – I watched the news, obsessively checked Facebook and Twitter to get real-time updates on the damage. I saw Peter Mansbridge tweet that news stations across the world, especially in the US, are currently having a field day with the events of last night, and I don’t even blame them.

But what I fear is that the clean up efforts will not be given the same amount of media attention internationally. And as I “predicted” about the violence downtown, I feel sadly confident that I will be correct.

Within 1-2 hours of the riot beginning, there was a huge union of community via social media. A Facebook Group popped up for anyone to join and post photos, so that the police may use them to identify the rioters. While I think that is an excellent idea, I also read Alexandra Samuel’s excellent and sobering article on the perils of using social media to survey fellow citizens. Given that the Facebook Group isn’t exactly being taken seriously by everyone (just check the photos), I am wondering how useful that page truly is.

What really hit my heart was the quickly-organized initiative to clean up Vancouver come morning. There was a Facebook event page and a twitter account created early last night (complete with a bitchin’ logo), which consulted with the Vancouver Police Department to figure out an appropriate time to go downtown in the morning. The mission is to volunteer time to clean up our city, wearing our Canucks jerseys and t-shirts, of course, to remind our community and the rest of the world what true fans are.

This morning, I watched the news broadcast the boarded-up windows of The Bay, upon which somebody had posted a sign apologizing to the world, ashamed of what Vancouver became last night. Volunteers and citizens started to write messages on the boards. I couldn’t read them over the TV screen, but I saw the word “PRAY” and I’m guessing there were a lot of messages to do with a mixture of shame, support, and community spirit.

I considered going downtown today with a handful of yarn bombs, to patch up the cuts and bruises of a city in my own little way. But I don’t think yarnbombing is what the city needs right now. I would probably be looked at by some of the wonderful clean-up volunteers as someone who is tarnishing the city – and I don’t want to hurt any citizen’s heart more than was already done last night.

All things considered, I am beyond frustrated with the intentionally public destruction of a community. Yet I am beyond inspired by the wonderful organizers and volunteers who show me what community really means. I am frustrated with how I expect this entire ordeal to be broadcast to the world, moreso because I don’t know that I can do anything to help how we’ll be represented. I am frustrated that the future of public viewing sites for games of all sorts are now compromised – a strike against a really popular community-building initiative. And I am most frustrated that I knew to stay away from downtown in the event of a lost hockey game. That is just so wrong. And what do I do with the fact I was right?

And so I shall crochet my heart out. As I have written this essay/post/rant/ I have come up with an idea to make a number of those crocheted square hearts, pictured above, and put those around downtown in the near future.

If you have any suggestions, comments, anything, remember that this is a conversation! Post below.



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