#Vancouver: The Breathtaking Beauty and the Heartbreaking Addicted

#Vancouver: The breathtaking beauty and the heartbreaking addicted.V Wedding

I was attending #SLA2014, a great conference for curious people who want to help others achieve their goals through innovation and gathering the most current information.

I have traveled the world and never seen a more beautiful city. The conference was terrific. Included in these photos is a picture of a former police officer, Julie Clegg, who now works with Toddington International on helping clients find people who don’t want to be found on the Internet with an array of cyber tools and geo tracking.

Julie Clegg, Toddington International
Julie Clegg, Toddington International

It was by far the most talked about session of the conference.

A few blocks from the pristine conference center is East Hastings Street, one of the most infamous and largest drug hubs in North America if not the world.

Some of the people spoke with me. Others chased me away or were too sick to speak.  V Nodding

Why take pictures of the sick?  V Canada

Because the addicted and mentally ill are invisible, and they need to be included in the everyday conversation.  They are us, our families, friends, neighbors, colleagues and community.

Kris, 42, a prostitute, who says she was just visiting Hastings for the afternoon.

Kris
Kris

 

 

Shannon, 30, and Ms. Diva, who says she is old enough. Ms. Diva is in a wheelchair after being run over by a car and dragged for three blocks, crushing her leg and breaking other bones. Shannon has been dealing drugs since she was 14-years-old. She has a seven-year-old daughter, and hopes to go back to school and get a job in early childhood education. She was one of the brightest people I spoke with and could make the transition if she was willing to work hard to get off the streets.  There are social services like the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective that could help her, but it would require a lot of work.

Shannon and Ms. Diva
Shannon and Ms. Diva

V Wall
V Whale

Crain’s New York Business Perfect Pitch Competition: Six Months Later

Six months ago we watched 13 entrepreneurs pitch their startup idea to three seasoned journalists from Crain’s New York Business.  The winner was Ally Downey, CEO and Co-Founder of weeSpring with runners-up, Perk.la and Try The World.  We recently caught up with them to find out how they are doing since the competition.

Continue reading “Crain’s New York Business Perfect Pitch Competition: Six Months Later”

Rock Bottom

Rock Bottom Film

Directed by Jay Corcoran

Rock Bottom FilmRock Bottom follows the journeys of seven gay men struggling with meth addiction and recovery against a backdrop of an emerging second wave of HIV infection. From grappling with the drug’s effects on their physical and mental health to wrestling with their darkest sexual desires, Rock Bottom delivers a chilling portrait of a community in crisis. With an unflinching eye the film captures their stories over a two-year period, from sex clubs to hospitals to family gatherings. It takes enormous courage to face these demons, and even more to allow the world to watch.

Why do they do it? Why are so many gay men, in their 20s, 30s, even 40s, men with good jobs, good friends, men in committed relationships, falling prey? These men who on paper seem to have it all, why are so many risking everything for sex? Hot, uninhibited sex. Group sex. Unsafe sex. Crystal Sex.

At blinding speed, Crystal is ushering in a new generation of HIV infection, along with a host of other life-destroying attributes. Unlike HIV alone, Crystal destroys the professional, financial and personal lives of gay men, often in a matter of months. The psychological attributes of Crystal addiction often create self-destructive behavior that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for friends and family, or even professionals, to help. And the numbers are frightening. Anecdotally, more than 1/3 of new HIV infection can be attributed to Crystal use, and new HIV infection rates are rising at historically high rates in the gay community.

In November, 2003, the communities indifference and silence took its toll on AIDS activist and recovering crystal meth addict, Peter Staley. Spending $6,000 of his own money to come up with a campaign that was featured on Verizon phone booths in Chelsea, he created image of 6-packed ab club boy, his face obscured by a mirror disco ball, emblazoned with the words, Buy Crystal, get HIV Free! Finally people had to pay attention.

Rock Bottom shows Peter Staley as he attempts to wake the New York gay community and New York City Health officials up from their complacency coma of the past decade. We watch Staley on his Herculean effort on telling the gruesome story of meth addiction to the world at large.

We’ll also meet Raymond, 47, a successful graphic artist from Minnesota. Introduced to meth by his last boyfriend, he lost his job, home and the patience of many friends and family in just two years. When we’re introduced to him, he is hooked up to an IV in Cabrini Hospital, debilitated from a staph infection as a result of his injection use.

Next is J., 28, HIV-. A singer/songwriter living in New York for the last decade he recently made a splash on the club circuit performing his new single about drugs and sex. He claims that his life really started taking off in August, 2004, when he tried crystal for the first time, got a gold card to the popular New York nightclub, Roxy, and starred in two adult videos for Michael Lucas of Lucas Entertainment.

Rock Bottom Press