View Court Housing Co-op
Vancouver - June 1, 2006. In honour of our last mortgage payment and ending our twenty-five year relationship with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Amy Kiara Ruth (centre) read a statement from the Board of Directors reflecting the President's message on founding the co-op 25 years ago. The celebration committee also led us through a series of rituals designed to mark the occasion and build community, and then there was champagne... Here's the text of Amy's speech:
Today we embark on a new chapter in the life of our co-op. We venture forward from the support and structure of our mortgage agreement with CMHC to stand on our own within the co-op community. We experience the excitement of self-determination and perhaps the nervousness about the responsibilities that being on our own will entail.
As we move into this new phase, we acknowledge the hard work of our members, both current and previous, whose volunteer and paid efforts have enabled us to be where we are today. Our commitment to our co-op, to the entity that is View Court, has carried us through difficult times and joyful times. This trust in the process, and in ourselves, has built a strong and flexible community with the ability to balance strengths and priorities. Like a patchwork quilt whose beauty is created through the different fabrics, textures, colours, and patterns the beauty of our co-op community is created through the contributions of our members; long-term, short-term, more or less actively involved while living here. We have demonstrated the wealth of resources the co-op has in its members; we have become a community that really is a sum greater than its individual parts.
With the creation of our mission, vision, and values last fall we are moving toward improved participation and inclusion, toward improved co-operative coherence and respect for others and their differences. As we look to the future, the on-going co-creation of our co-op is an opportunity for each of us to cultivate a strong sense of self and a place in our immediate co-op community. This will enable us to continue to tend our own co-op while building deeper connection to the larger co-op community and to foster cooperative spirit within our neighbourhood and city community.
Thank you all for the unique gifts and skills that you bring to our co-op."
Here is the speech, given by Beverly Atwell, president of the Board of Directors, on the occasion of the first Annual General Meeting, September 1982:
Tonight we can look around this room and see not just neighbours or remote acquaintances, but ourselves as member of a sharing community. It’s been a fruitful and ambitious year, during which we went from being tenants in a house and apartment building to being a co-operative, an active force working to house ourselves.
Thanks to Inner City Housing Society and CMHC, we were able to buy View Court in May of 1981, during a time when building prices were acutely high, and reasonable housing costs for the future seemed a near impossibility. Today, in September 1982, we have the power over our own housing: an incredible and magnificent step.
With Inner City’s help and counsel, committees were formed and we learned to work as a group, learned to get things accomplished through committees, learned to listen and serve each other, and work out our desires and frustrations. A construction manager was hired and renovations were in process by the summer of 1981; the founding members of View Court went through terrible insecurities, got dust in their possessions, absorbed the noise of construction, and never knew where they’d be sleeping from one night to the next as slowly the elderly View Court was transformed. Some members lived with holes in their walls, some with no stoves, and all lived with huge mountains of sawdust, mounds of clay excavated from the basement, the mud outside, and a fortress of scaffolding where the racket started early and didn’t cease until dusk.
The renovations and the withstanding of them, and the forging of spirits among those who lived here, produced a community feeling of dedication to the building and the co-op. This dedication helps us to med our differences, to keep on working relentlessly for the future. Because our co-op occupies renovated buildings and not new ones planned from the ground up to meet our needs, we will continue to need this dedication on the part of the members. In years to come, we’ll all find more things we should have changed, more walls to knock holes in, more or fewer doors, and, hopefully, in the end, more PEACE and less noise.
We all deserve a big hurrah for the learning we’ve done, and for arriving at the point we’re at today: the scaffolding is down, the workmen have gone away, the court has been swept and planted, the alarm system has stopped its nightly false alarm, the lawns are trimmed. Though Inner City and CMHC are still here to guide us, to give advise, to clarify and adjudicate, we are now alone, proud, and capable of serving our housing needs as well as being productive good neighbours in Mount Pleasant community.
Beverly Atwell, President
Board of Directors, View Court Housing Co-op
11 September 1982