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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Farewell to West Central STREETS

Farewell to a West End institution !

West Central Streets community newspaper has been around for fifteen years chronicling the lives of those living in the section of the West End stretching from Arlington Street east to Carlton. The mandate was not to cover the neighbourhood 'news' but "to give voice to the interests, struggles and strengths of the people in the community". That it did.

St. Paul Street, Winnipeg

Produced by a revolving team of neighbourhood volunteers under the editorship of Erica Wiebe, each edition had a different focus both in terms of subject matter and the part of the neighbourhood covered.

Artists, community volunteers, 'old timers', new immigrants, first time West-Enders, recovering addicts, even yours truly, have appeared in the pages.

West End Mural

Over the years it has covered numerous workshops and community meetings on issues such as youth recreation, crime and prostitution. They began celebrating the murals of the West End, (years before Where Winnipeg caught onto them), talked about the history of some of the streets and introduced new institutions such as the Ellice Cafe and Theatre to West-Enders.

It's not always pretty. Stories of triumph and interesting characters shared space with those about life on the periphery of society and the victims, and sometimes the perpetrators off crime.

Central Park, African Market
The November / December 2010 edition is typical example. Features include:

- A woman from Nelson House who uses the West End Women's Resource Centre (which just moved to 640 Ellice).

- An editorial from a Cumberland area resident questioning whether it is violent crime, or the perception of violent crime, that's running rampant in parts of the West End.

- A 'streeter' on what residents think of the 'new' Central Park.

- In the 'New Neighbours' section, a former Winnipegger who returned from Ottawa after getting her degree. (She finds that "There are more people walking around ....Neighbours know each other and talk to each other. That's different from other neighbourhoods")

- A woman who moved into a 'pocket suite' five years ago and the adjustments that she had to make.

- A newly arrived family from Congo trying to find their way in a new country.

- A daycare director retiring after 31 years, interviewed appropriately by one of her former charges !

- In a Central Park focus, a profile of three of the people responsible for the African revival in the area.

It ends, as always, with a Community Exchange feature. A combination want ads / skills bank where you can find everything from a tree pruner to a jewelery maker to interpreter services.

Ellice Street Festival 2008

Unfortunately, West Central Streets never made it on-line. During the ups and downs that the West End has had in the past few years it would have been nice to have it out there to counter the 'it's all going to hell' stance that most media have taken at times to the area.

The main funder of West Central Streets was LITE and their funding, ($6,000 in 2009), has ended. The current edition, (November - December, available at a number of agencies and retail outlets in the area), is their penultimate one. A final edition will be available at the end of January.

It's a little piece of the West End that will be missed.

1 comment:

John Dobbin said...

It is too bad to hear about this.

There have been a few city papers that have folded over the years. Most required minimum funding to keep going.

At least the neighbourhood still have you to cover some of the interesting stories. However, it is sad to see a print medium disappear after so long.