Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City's Struggle with Addiction by Travis LupickFighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City's Struggle with Addiction by Travis Lupick

Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City's Struggle with Addiction

byTravis Lupick

Paperback | October 1, 2017

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Winner, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature
Finalist, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (BC Book Prizes)

North America is in the grips of a drug epidemic. While deaths across the continent soar, Travis Lupick's Fighting for Space explains the concept of harm reduction as a crucial component of a city's response to the drug crisis.

It tells the story of a grassroots group of addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside who waged a political street fight for two decades to transform how the city treats its most marginalized citizens. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, this group of residents from Canada's poorest neighbourhood organized themselves in response to a growing number of overdose deaths and demanded that addicts be given the same rights as any other citizen; against all odds, they eventually won.

But just as their battle came to an end, fentanyl arrived and opioid deaths across North America reached an all-time high. It's prompted many to rethink the war on drugs. Public opinion has slowly begun to turn against prohibition, and policy-makers are finally beginning to look at addiction as a health issue as opposed to one for the criminal justice system.

The previous epidemic in Vancouver sparked government action. Twenty years later, as the same pattern plays out in other cities, there is much that advocates for reform can learn from Vancouver's experience. Fighting for Space tells that story, with the same passionate fervor as the activists whose tireless work gave dignity to addicts and saved countless lives.

Travis Lupick is an award-winning journalist based in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. He has more than a decade's experience working as a staff reporter for the Georgia Straight newspaper and has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Toronto Star, the Walrus, and Al Jazeera English, among other out...
Title:Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City's Struggle with AddictionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:408 pages, 9.5 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:October 1, 2017Publisher:Arsenal Pulp PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:155152712X

ISBN - 13:9781551527123


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A moving and detailed narrative of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside This wonderful recounts the broad story of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (an area frequently compared to LA's Skid Row) through the personal journeys of the activists, drug users and unlikely property managers there. Starting with an overview of how the DTES became the way it was by the late 1980's or so, Lupick introduces us to the people that arrive there and find it to be a home. A home and a community for them, and so many others that aren't welcome anywhere else. And through this physical bond they manage to achieve things that - until very recently - were impossible anywhere else in North America. This is an emotional read without any cheap shots. Lupick manages to weave a compelling narrative while also creating something of a reference tool for anyone who wants to know what happened where, in what order, and who was on board and who wasn't. (It's fascinating to see, as often happens, which political and organisational elements had to be dragged along, yet now crow about their involvement as if it was their own achievement.) Do you have a connection to Vancouver, to addiction, to homelessness, to the opioid crisis? You really must read this book.
Date published: 2018-04-13

Editorial Reviews

Part social history and part community organizing manual, Fighting for Space details the decade-long fight to establish North America's first medically managed site for injection drug users. It's an amazing, inspiring, and sometimes harrowing read. ―Los Angeles Review of Books