Being on the outside

What is it like to live on the margins of society? How does social marginalization happen? Why does it happen? And what can be done?

The problem of social marginalization

The problem of social marginalization

UBC’s decision to establish a presence in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside made many people in both the Downtown Eastside and the university ask skeptical questions. Why is UBC making this move? What’s the real agenda? What does a mainstream, research-intensive unive...
Living on the margins

Living on the margins

There are as many stories of social marginalization as there are people living in places like Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Every story is unique. But there are some common patterns. People experience abuse in childhood, they become mentally ill, they...
Respect is not enough

Respect is not enough

When I began working in the Downtown Eastside, I believed that one way to prevent or ameliorate social marginalization was to treat people with respect. When we opened the Learning Exchange storefront , respect was the number one value we tried to emphasize ...
Is social justice the answer?

Is social justice the answer?

Advocates for social justice believe they have the answer to the problems of poverty and marginalization. They believe their approach is an improvement over charitable approaches that characterized efforts to help "the underprivileged” in earlier times. Va...
The deep roots of inequality

The deep roots of inequality

My experiences going back and forth between UBC and the Downtown Eastside led me to conclude that poverty and other signs of social inequality and injustice have roots that are even more profound than the social justice or other discourses suggest. After a f...
Drawing and erasing boundaries

Drawing and erasing boundaries

Much of the language we use to describe social exclusion is based on spatial metaphors. Talking about the margins evokes an image of a circle or a series of concentric circles.  Alternatively, referring to the mainstream and the margins may evoke an ...

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