“You’re Not Alone” was about creating visibility for those impacted by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic through making art, posters and connections. Through websites like covidmeetups.com, the local group Masks4EastVan and other connections made on social media, some chronically ill East Van residents were able to come together to make and distribute some art and information regarding covid, masking and what it’s like to live through this as disabled people.
We created in solitude but joined in the streets of Hastings Sunrise and Cedar Cottage primarily. Many folks delighted in the simple tactile experience of putting up their posters. Some also acknowledged a feeling of empowerment from the new skill and its immediate impact on their visual environment. Over a dozen folks participated across the East Van neighbourhoods.
It wasn’t without challenges, sadly. Due to the content of the art and posters or the artists themselves, many were vandalized or removed almost immediately. Ableism is as rampant in East Vancouver as in any other neighbourhood of the city. It was disappointing and a disheartening reminder for some of the participants. Nonetheless, we prevailed, bolstered by a sense of camaraderie. We also pivoted some of the postering energy into helping boost what Masks4EastVan is doing and joined in some of their distros.
Ultimately, the project was successful but severely hindered by the nature of a pandemic and the ways the chronically ill participants are impacted by that, as well as ableism in the community. For example, some folks who were initially signed on to participate were unable to do so due to illness. Some of these things are out of our control, but we hope that if we continue our work and make these connections, we will triumph over these negative attitudes.