- Excerpt from "Fighting for Space." -
Ann Livingston and Bud Osborn’s paths crossed several times before the two of them actually met. In photographs taken at the 1994 meeting at the Carnegie Community Centre, where Livingston connected with Melissa Eror, Osborn is sitting directly behind Livingston, just two rows back.
Then, just before Back Alley inevitably closed its doors, William Kay invited Osborn down to check the place out. The users there had covered the walls in poetry and graffiti, and Kay thought Osborn might be able to make something out of it.
“The felt pens kept disappearing,” Livingston remembers. “I have to have white paper and I have to have felt pens because I am a freak about how I do organizing. But the felt pens kept disappearing. Meanwhile, this poetry is all over the walls because everybody is writing all over them. Later, I thought, ‘That’s where all the felt pens went.’”
Livingston was at home with her boys the day Osborn took Kay up on his invitation. [....] Somehow it was not until 1996 that the two finally got to know one another.
The moment when Osborn first noticed Livingston was not one of her better days. For several years, Livingston had held a seat on the board of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association. On this day, she was losing that position. Made to stand at the front of a room of some 400 people, she held her tongue while fellow DERA members levelled every sort of accusation at her—charges that had to do with the illegal injection site Livingston had brought to the community and not a lot else beyond that. Livingston’s fellow DERA board members didn’t approve of her new interest in drug addicts.
Osborn noticed Livingston at the DERA meeting because, while an entire room attacked her, she didn’t attack back. “I remember she said, ‘I hope whatever comes out of this will strengthen the community and be for the benefit of the community,’” Osborn said. “She was the only one that had the community in her mind ... I was very impressed that she did. And so, that was the first time that I really, really saw Ann.”
📸 Ann Livingston (1996).
📸 Duncan Murdoch (1994).