Pigeons are survivors

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Pigeons are survivors

One of my favorite people, David Eby – who is a tireless advocate for the homeless, the poor, and people on the fringes of society – posted this entry on his blog yesterday about the remodeling of Pigeon Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

In case you don’t know about it, the DTES is one of the poorest postal codes in Canada, with a disproportionate number of marginalized people living on the streets and in run-down single occupancy rooms. Pigeon Park is really just a wedge of widened sidewalk on one corner, with some benches and a couple of trees.

Here’s how David describes it:

There’s this park, a crappy little triangle of a park, located at the corner of Carrall and Hastings Streets in the DTES. Nothing much to speak of. Some interlocking brick, some concrete planters, a large wall of plywood beside an empty building, and several benches.

Such is Pigeon Park.

It is probably, per square foot, the most heavily used park in Vancouver. There’s always lots of people hanging out. Some are drunk. Some are high. Some are not. All are sitting, or standing, or talking, or whatever the hell they want. It’s a park for the people of the Downtown Eastside.

Most other people wouldn’t bother making the connection to the Park’s namesake, but David does:

Everyone knows it’s Pigeon Park, and for a park name, it’s probably the most fitting park name in the world. Pigeons are birds that have managed, despite all odds, to survive in the urban environment. Pigeons are survivors.

Pigeons are also hated. Called nuisances. Fenced out, chased out, kicked when they’re down. Probably a story that, good and bad, sounds all too familiar to many of the folks that use that park.

I love how he brings the story of pigeons in to the story of the park and the people who use the park. Intersectionality in action, eloquently put. His whole post is good, please check it out.

Thanks David, for all the great work!

[Sorry for the lack of posts over the past 2 weeks. Between work and rebuilding our kitchen, I haven’t had a lot of time to write. Sorry also for the shortness of this post. I saw David’s post yesterday but only got to it today. And I have approximately 7 million other things to do this morning.]



August 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

Thanks very much for bringing this to my attention. David’s post was super interesting and very sensitive to both the people and the pigeons.


August 20, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I was wondering who the female caller was on the Steve Hindi segment and as soon as she dropped the pigeon word, I knew… : )

How unfitting that the restaurant in Portland, Oregon which serves a “foie gras jelly donut” (and veal) is called Le Pigeon. How dare they…

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