Two years into the global pandemic, the BC Provincial Health Services Authority’s strategy has become defined by its contradictions. All social gatherings that depend on and feed voluntary community energies are banned. All social gatherings that feed for-profit business markets are encouraged. All industries that drag workers into harm’s way are exempted altogether from restrictions. The buck stops not with the government or business, but with the individual.
For over a decade we’ve heard breathless celebrations of local and artisanal businesses as the antidote to the runaway corporatization of daily life. Unfortunately, this upbeat narrative often breaks down when the workers in these local enterprises tell their own stories.
The various iterations of the “Escaping Vancouver” narrative share a core unexamined underpinning: the idea that I, a hard-working, usually white, middle class person, did everything right, became successful, and yet am still unable to afford to live in the city of my choice. We must challenge the embedded privilege that characterizes what might be termed “middle class self-help advocacy”—the tendency to rely on individualized solutions to collective social problems.