Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's A Case Of 'Matter Out Of Place'

I remember something one of my Professors said while I was at the University of Manitoba, studying Anthroplogy. I was taking a course in Archaeology at the time. My Professor was talking about 'matter out of place', and how we look at the world. The example he used was mud, or dirt. The stuff you find outside in your garden. You know the stuff. He was talking about how we look at dirt, depending on where it is. When we track it into the house and leave remnants on the floor, it is unacceptable. It is dirt, and must be removed at once or the house is not clean. But, when that same piece of dirt is outside, in the garden, or in the forest, or quietly sitting under the sod in your front yard, it is loved and cherished. It is exactly where it is supposed to be, and appreciated for what it is, life giving organic matter.
Now, why am I talking about dirt? Well, it is not so much the dirt that I am talking about as it is how we interpret the dirt, depending on its location. Location is everything. What we consider to be 'matter out of place' goes far beyond a piece of dirt. I have seen examples of this, and documented examples in this blog since its beginning, last August.
If garbage is overflowing in the suburbs, it is matter out of place. In the inner city, it is the status quo, or matter exactly where it should be.
If Police cars are present on street in the suburbs, it is matter out of place. It is something odd to be investigated, and reported on in the news. The North End would feel naked without our Police presence, cruisers driving down our streets, and the all too frequent stops at all the usual houses. And our Police presence is only marginally covered in press releases or news reports. It is irrelevant to the general public, and seldom talked about in the media.
If intoxicated individuals are staggering about through yards in the suburbs, again, it is matter out of place. It must be dealt with immediately, and eradicated in quick haste. In the North End, not so much. The staggering of intoxicated individuals is all too common, and allowed to exist, just as long as they are not stabbing anyone.
In Gordon Sinclair's article today, he showed a great example of weeds and untended City planters running along Main Street, matter right where it belongs, it would seem. The planters were shown to contain last years dead flowers. Some had weeds growing out of them. But the planters in front of City Hall, and on other major streets are filled with fresh flowers, watered and tended.
If I go further into Anthropological theory here, we seem to have a dichotomy. The haves and have nots, the wanted and unwanted. The clean and the dirty. Shall I go on? The Suburbs and the Inner City.
We all pay our taxes. We are all entitled to vote. We are all citizens of this City. So why, I ask you, is there such a dichotomy between the inner city areas and the suburbs? And why does it exist within so many levels of Civic, Provincial and Federal Governments? Why does it exist with so many groups and organizations? Why does it exist in the very hearts and souls of every person living in the City? I say this last statement, because it would have to be true to have gotten so far into our very nature to think what is going on, can actually continue to happen to this extreme. How can a cruiser car parked on the quiet street of Kingston Row be news, when days earlier a male was shot on Magnus Avenue and little was said? The Winnipeg Free Press gives the story three lines. The Winnipeg Sun has four sentences in its story. And how can we, as citizens of Winnipeg, brush this off as somthing that happened in the North End, what do you expect?
We are all at fault for this. The media is at fault every time they use the term "Notorious North End", and every time they say an issue happened in the North End before consulting a map to find it was West End or West Kildonan, or Downtown. Citizens are at fault for not calling attention to this dichotomy each and every time they see it happen. The City Councillors, MLAs and MPs are at fault for allowing the inequities to exist.
This is not the City I thought I lived in. Since coming to the North End, I have become aware of these blatant inequities that have been allowed to exist and perpetuate themselves to such an extreme level.
Remember, ten years ago the North End was not like this. We can turn things around. But we have to want to. And we have to start including the North End, West End and Downtown with the areas we want to protect. We need to enforce laws the same in the North End as we do in Charleswood or St Vital.
We have to want to turn things around. Otherwise we are lost, in the 'notorious' North End.

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