An Open Letter to Anti-2010-Olympics Protestors

Hi. I’m Steffani, and I’m a lifelong Vancouverite.

I voted “YES” in the Olympics plebiscite “back in the day,” when we lowly democratic peons had the chance to vote on the once-every-four-years-party that, you know, would cost a few bucks to put on.

Now, I know, that voting day was such a sunny, beautiful day so many years ago that we didn’t even have a majority of our citizens turn out.

You know what? Not MY problem.

Because I fuckin’ voted. I did my job.

And I’ve lived and paid my taxes in this city my entire life, so, y’know, I feel entitled to that vote & the smugness that comes with.

Now, here we are, the day before the Games. There are more people supporting them than not, but now we have a new cry arising from the anti-Games protestors.

They think us “Pro-Games” people are trying to quel their “freedom” of speech.

No, you know what we’re trying to do?

We’re trying to get you to shut up, or at least be more constructive in your message.

Quite a different thing altogether.

See, we shut up and let you have your say for years. No harm, no foul, man! Say whatcha gotta say. Democracy in action, man.

You know how you get a few hundred people at your rallies, at best? In a city of 2 million? Well, we’ve letcha have your say. Loudly.

And good for you! You’re keeping democracy alive!

But here’s the thing.

Protesting the Olympics now? TODAY? TOMORROW?

That’s like standing at the bottom of a mountain with an avalanche of spring snow rushing at you and being pissed it has the indecency of crashing your picnic, throwing your arms up passionately, and bellowing “STOP! I COMMAND THEE!”

You can TRY, but… Nice fuckin’ try, chump.

Why not use the opportunity of having the world at our doorstep to protest things you CAN change? To use your voice to rally others to take up causes that WILL affect others?

Fighting the Games now? Just fucking dumb. Sorry if that insults your intelligence, but it’s kinda my blog and that’s the way it rolls in these far-too-blunt parts.

The Games are here. Why not err on the side that, you know, a party costing $6 billion might be a fun one to show up at?

It’s not a party for the “rich.” Do you have ANY idea how much of the Games are free to see? Probably close to half. That’s a party for the PEOPLE, man.

Oh, and there’s another point. Psst, the “Games” didn’t cost $6 billion. Infrastructure we needed cost a lot of that money.

Like the fancy new highway that was famously one of the deadliest heavily-used highways in Canada and needed upgrades for safety, but never had a chance of being approved for improvements to the extent that it was improved, not without a mega-project like the Olympics spurring it on.

Or the schmancy new train that’s changed MY life so much for the better.

Or the incredible public areas along the Olympic village and road upgrades throughout the city?

That’s not “for the rich.” That’s for all of us. Yeah, the city will eat a loss. And this is unusual for Olympics how? Wholesale improvements to ANY area tends to result in loss before it pays off. Those payoffs tend to occur in intangibles that defy measuring, too.

The real advantage of the Olympics is the profile Vancouver will receive. With our medical system, no matter WHAT they approve in the States, we still offer major incentives to industry — but there are a lot of delusional ideas about what life in Vancouver will mean. Like igloos. Or salmon-smoking shacks in every yard.

When the world gets a load of people wandering around in t-shirts when the sun emerges next week, preconceptions about Canada will shatter around the world. You can’t BUY that kind of publicity.

Or, well, actually, you can. When you win the chance to host something as coveted as the Olympics, a party so exclusive you gotta wait four years between ’em. I hear the going rate’s about $6 billion. -Ish.

I’ve lived here ALL of my life. I’m one of 26 people, give or take, in Vancouver who can say I was born and raised here. I know what this town looked like with the population a fraction of what it is today.

I’ve seen the changes. All of them.

Some break my heart.

But some make me so proud.

And through it all, my city’s remained beautiful, has become an incredible multicultural paradise, and maintains something uniquely Canadian about it at the same time.

I want the world to see what I have. I want the world to know what Canada offers. And I’m not sorry for it.

Protesters, we let you have your stage. You’ve fought the Olympics for years.

We’re not telling you not to protest wrongs, we’re just wanting you to focus your protest more constructively.

You had your floor. Even though you lost years ago, we never tried to shut your soapbox down. Authorities might’ve, but we citizens kept our mouths shut and let you do your thang.

Now the world’s here, and it’s our floor, and we want it to be the best goddamned party we can throw.

Protest homelessness, arts cutbacks, anything you goddamned well want, but just don’t impede the torch, don’t crash the opening ceremonies. Play nice!

Let us have our time in the sun, too.

We’ve quietly waited for years.

We’re just not being quiet about it anymore.

And it’s not censorship. It’s a request. From one neighbour to another.

Let’s enjoy our block party. Heck, I’ll buy you a beer.

In two weeks, it’s over, and it’s civic unrest as usual for you — but nothing left for us, except possibly the bitterness that might linger if we feel we were robbed of our very expensive moment in the limelight.

So, today, we’re asking. Let us enjoy the moment. It’s our turn.


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