Our Operating Philosophy

The grassroots and secular DTES Neighbourhood House is one of Vancouver’s newest Neighbourhood Houses.  Volunteers, staff and Board members work to fortify the voice and ambitions of our neighbours by sustaining a Neighbourhood House in which DTES residents of all ages, genders and ancestries sculpt their future while honouring the four founding DTES communities – Indigenous, Japanese, Chinese and Low-Income.

We mirror the entirety of our community: in its beauty and its harshness, its poetry and its frustration.  We are activist, reformist and non-violent, critical of the poverty mentality and its handmaiden the charity model.  We challenge the clichés visited upon the materially poor.  We work from an honour system which assumes the inherent dignity and deservedness of all.  We embrace social consciousness and public education, rejecting negativity.  We avoid the language of addiction and instead see complex individuals living complex lives.  We know that pain is not a contest.  We are not a ‘helping’ organization, nor do we ‘save’ or ‘rescue’ people.  Our job is to offer the best quality programs in the best possible environment which our neighbours hopefully experience as a pocket of sustaining calm which they may use for their own self-reflection and self-determination.

Our allegiance is to the low-income community while welcoming all, offering a distinct opportunity for those with privilege to contribute in creating equitable relationships in a society where everyone is in fact, not equal.  We support self-awareness and discourage self-absorption.

As an emerging Neighbourhood House with limited means, we adhere to the principle of ‘cheap ‘n cheerful’ while subscribing to many ‘low tech’ techniques and beauty and fun.

The DTES NH acknowledges and honours the fact that our community lies within the Traditional Territory of the Coast Salish people.

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