The CurbSide Philosophy

A timely project by 4B Harm Reduction is pushing back against grifting alt-right media and fear being aimed at our unhoused neighbours by opportunistic police chiefs.

The CurbSide Philosophy
4B Harm Reduction looks out for the community in Edmonton.

As I’m writing this on the morning of August 16, wildfires have Yellowknife surrounded and the city is on evacuation alert. My heart goes out to everyone across NWT — many of them Indigenous, many who already have family and friends living on the streets of our cities — who may be left internally displaced after this fire season.

Houselessness isn’t an inevitable outcome for anyone: we need to see, hear and share these stories. That’s what this post is about.

It’s one of the most dramatic scenes you can imagine in harm reduction work: a mother on outreach comes across her son knocked out by a heavy opioid poisoning.

I won’t ruin the story of Angie Staines and her son Brandon Shaw, so check out Duncan McCue’s interview on Helluva Story or Marcus Gee’s piece in the Globe & Mail.

But the real twist comes after the media: by a combined miracle of a mother’s love, community support and personal grit, Brandon is housed for the first time in a decade and ready to apply what he learned on the streets of Edmonton and Vancouver to pay it forward.

The CurbSide Philosophy is a public education project by Brandon and the 4B Harm Reduction team. They’ll relay people’s stories from the frontlines of this national crisis of internal displacement with the understanding and care that comes most easily to people who have lived through it.

Drug Data Decoded is partnering with 4B Harm Reduction to help see The CurbSide Philosophy become reality. I’m donating the full $1,500 from a writing contract (look for that in Alberta Views early 2024!).

Can you join me with a donation to 4B’s GoFundMe?

Enough from me — here’s Brandon.

“I’m launching this project to give back a voice to people who are homeless or using drugs. I’ll raise awareness about the conditions on the streets — what is truly happening — using my own experience to strip away the stigma.

Because how the crisis of drug toxicity is being handled and what the government says is being done are two completely different things: people are being criminalized, marginalized and treated like scum.

It’s so sad to watch and it breaks my heart.

The CurbSide Philosophy will start as a set of social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) that provide a platform to people’s real struggles. It’s the truth, delivered straight from the frontlines.

Anonymous interviews will be paired with outreach footage to focus on issues that Albertans frequently talk about — but never with those directly affected.”

Brandon puts the B in 4B. (No, actually)

Want to be a part of this?

The CurbSide Philosophy will return far more than the sum of the stories it delivers. The people to whom it will give a voice are refugees of racist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, greed-empowering policy. Their testimony is intentional omitted by the political press conferences, the Postmedia columns and the social media influencers.

As Brandon puts it: we talk about unhoused people so much, why aren’t we speaking with them?

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