Sunday, December 19, 2010

Defining Moments

This coming February marks my debut as a columnist for the Inglewood community newsletter. Although it’s a few months away, I completed the inaugural piece earlier this week. you can view the article this coming February by picking up a copy for yourself or reading it online, but for the benefit of those who otherwise do not come across the article in person, I’ve decided to post it here for your reading pleasure. Be blessed, Tim Bitz


Ask anyone to share a defining moment in their life, and they’ll most likely tell you some sort of conflict and their struggle to overcome it. It doesn’t take too much to see our world is full of defining moments. I immediately think of those in Haiti dealing with a cholera outbreak while still trying to recover from last year’s earthquake. How well are they coping, and how will this struggle define them as a nation? The most recent volcanic eruptions in the Philippines have me wondering how those affected will overcome their devastation. And millions watched this October as 33 Chilean miners were rescued from its collapse in August. Maclean’s Magazine details how the tragedy has become a defining moment for all those involved in the rescue. The 33 that descended below the earth’s surface are not the same as those who emerged 69 days later.

For those of us living in Calgary, these stories may seem distant and difficult to relate to. But if we look within our own city, it’s not too hard to find a defining moment we can relate too. Those of us living in Inglewood are aware of last year’s murder behind Colonel Walker School. As the police investigated the crime, it was learned the victim was a resident of the Horizon Housing complex. In the minds of some, this became a defining moment for those living across the bird sanctuary. When this news surfaced, the complex – and its residents – became a scapegoat. Some Inglewood home-owners pointed a finger at Horizon Housing, blaming their newest neighbors for a rise in Inglewood’s crime rate. They feared those who lived there would contribute to a decline in the community’s morale. Although that can be said of the murder in late February 2010, to place that stigma on all those inhabiting the complex is a grave mistake.

In the 18 months that Horizon Housing has been accepting tenants at the Alice Bissett location, there have been a few defining moments where the tenants take a stand against injustice. Having a sense of ownership and pride toward their dwelling, some occupants have banned together ensuring the building is a safe place. As a fellow tenant I can attest to this.

One of my first neighbors was a drug addict and known gang member. My first time meeting the gentleman, he offered me the number of an escort. I declined his offer and retreated back to my apartment. We didn’t talk much after that. One thing I did learn was that the guy was loud, obnoxious, and had no respect for his neighbors. People made constant complaints to the manager. At 3 A.M. you’d hear the guy screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. A few times I would wake at 7 A.M. to hear the building manager insist he turn down his stereo, because it could be heard half way down the hall. The neighbor’s inconsiderate manner escalated and some of us grew impatient. Police would stop by on a weekly basis, as our calls lit up their phone lines insisting they intervene on our behalf. Logging complaints both with the police and Horizon Housing staff, the residents of Alice Bissett Place worked together to get this guy evicted.

This was a defining moment for those of us who live in the Horizon Housing complex. It stands as an example that we are not idle. It defines us as active citizens who care as much about the neighborhood as the next person. It defines us as those who take action against injustice. To say otherwise is bloody murder.

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