Participant bio – Alex Minard

Name: Alex Minard

Live: Downtown Eastside, Vancouver

About myself: I am an architect with the Vancouver office of Perkins+Will. In addition to our focus on the ecological impacts of building design and city making, Perkins+Will is deeply committed to addressing the social impacts. In 2007 we established a firm-wide Social Responsibility Initiative in support of our commitment to the 1% Program of Public Architecture. As the coordinator of the Vancouver office’s Pro Bono work, I have collaborated with a variety of organizations in the DTES, including the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Potluck Café Society, and Atira Women’s Resource Society. In interacting with these organizations, I have begun to understand some of the obstacles faced by many of our neighbourhood’s residents.

Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: My hope is that by accepting this challenge I will gain new insight into these obstacles and will better equip myself and my colleagues to begin to generate solutions. What better way to improve the service that we deliver than by walking a mile in our clients’ shoes? From a personal point of view, I am looking to better understand my neighbours’ perspectives and to raise awareness in hopes that together we can effect change.

My worries: Food is an important focus of my life and I enjoy cooking with fresh, healthy ingredients. I am also a very active person and consequently require a high caloric intake. It is therefore with much trepidation that I accepted this challenge. If I can get enough fuel in me to keep me moving then I will have succeeded, but I hope do so while also maintaining a healthy diet. Of course, I recognize that I have an unfair advantage. Many people living on Income Assistance have limited (if any) access to a refrigerator or a stove. To subsist on $3.58 per day without these tools would be difficult and to do so while maintaining one’s health would be virtually impossible.

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