Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vancouver, Canada 8

A warm afternoon, huh?

We keep watching the forecast for the coming week and note that it will be at least 10 degrees cooler in Vancouver, BC. May we should have traveled there next week instead of last. . . Oh well, the garden really needed us here.

So the Dad in the picture is helping his daughter down from peering over the counter where she could see her soft ice cream cone being made. The big plastic display cone says "Do Not Touch". A good idea so kids don't lick it and spread swine flu.

But there it is, that little treat store right on Robson Street where most customers don't think twice about indulging. It doesn't cost much when you have plenty in your pocket. But if you don't have much, a $2-$3 ice cream cone would be a fortune. And not much of a meal.

Food options on Robson Street are not in short supply. And some of them conveniently take up most of the sidewalk. Presumably, they have permits to create these permanent obstacles to traffic. It contributes to the ambience of the place. Makes it seem more like Europe . . . or like you're on vacation. It's always nice to be seen in a place. Everybody knows how hip you are, what you can afford.
Except when you can't afford it. 7-Eleven is here. Way to go, Southland Corporation, based in Dallas, Texas! I remember seeing the corporate headquarters from Love Field, the downtown airport in Dallas, when I worked there: tall reflective smoked glass building with lights on all four sides in the shape of a big "X".

So-called "convenience" stores are not conveient places to eat. Or to buy anything, for that matter. People generally buy non-essentials there. Impulse buys like Doritos and Dr. Pepper--also Texas products. The beverages in cans and bottles are part of the food chain, though.
No, not the beverages. They're generally not very nutritious. It's the containers. For some people among us, the containers ARE the food chain. They collect them to return for deposit refunds and use the money to buy more staple foods and essentials. For these folks, it's a job, not an inconvenience to be dealt with before they do the weekly gorcery buying at the big stores.

It's actually a good thing that so many people who can afford the snack beverages are so wealthy that they don't care about the deposit. They toss the cans in trash bins on the streets or in the parks. Other people go through and retrieve them. It's good and noble work because the containers shouldn't go to landfills. The "canners" do us a huge service.
But we sometimes make it really hard for these folks to do their work. Like strategicaly locating the recycling centers in only a few places--generally very far away from the sidewalk cafes of Robson Street. No wonder people in Vancouver don't collect cans and bottle in plastic bags. They use shopping carts, and their regular routes of looking for income may cover quite a few miles of streets. Then they have miles to go to do anything with them. We saw them racing one another around the parks along English Bay in the evening, trying to score the big haul before someone else did. And trying not to lose half their catch in the process.

There is growing pressure in Oregon to move can and bottle returns out of stores and into remote recycling centers. Like in California or the one above out on E. Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver. If we do that here, we'll make it much harder for people to make a living and take care of their needs.
We should do the opposite: Keep the can and bottle returns in stores--and expand the types of containers to all the non-carbonated beverages as well. Think of it as creating jobs.
Jesus asked, "Where shall we buy bread that they may eat?" There were 5K hungy people. He knew what He was going to do.

We have more than 5K hungry people around us. Do we know what we are going to do?



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