Opening Doors

Hogan’s Alley Nora Hendrix Place (NHP), with the Chinese Solheim Place, rebuilt community by celebrating their urban gardening project in a food celebration festival on September 25, 2021 in the park at Union Street and Gore Avenue, Vancouver, BC.

Solheim Place and Nora Hendrix Place residents celebrated the harvest of all things green grown in their garden plots over the past year, with a food festival including Chinese and African/Jamaican culinary traditional dishes using the delicious herbs and vegetables they planted and cultivated.

We OPENED DOORS that were shut in the 1960s during the infamous urban renewal freeway project that ripped out the Hogan’s Alley community and the homes of many Chinese residents. Our “Opening Doors” party was a huge success—we had a great turnout from Solheim Place and Nora Hendrix Place residents and their invited guests eating and dancing in the park! Hogan’s Alley Society (HAS) board member Lama Mugabo organized the DJ to provide traditional African music. Mama Kombii made African snacks for 100 people. The party poster was designed by Julia Frederick, a resident of Nora Hendrix Place (NHP). Language interpretation was provided in Mandarin/English/Cantonese.

You can read about our project of growing seeds and cultivating plants in my Nora Hendrix Place Hogan’s Alley Society (HAS) Report to Vancouver City Hall: Making a Case for a Hogan’s Alley Cultural Centre  here: Rebuilding community works. 

Members of the Black community of the former Hogan’s Alley now living in Nora Hendrix Place (NHP) and the Chinese Solheim Place tenants have been building up to this garden party event since the beginning of 2021. The former Hogan’s Alley community had been erased during the 1960s Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts urban renewal scheme of “revitalization” of a “slum.” The area had been redlined, and Vancouver BC developer mayor Tom Campbell saw a six-lane freeway through Gore Avenue and Union Street as a way to modernize.

Solheim Place is named after Olaf Solheim, a retired logger who lived in the Patricia Hotel. Increased land use speculation to cater to Expo 1986 tourists led to his eviction. The Patricia Hotel (a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel) was the only community he had known for decades. Within 10 days of his eviction, despondent, he starved to death because he was moved into a place he didn’t want to be, from the only place he felt was “home.” Tearing up a community by the roots from neighbours and friends means this garden project is vital for healing of colonial revitalization projects which saw “others” as living in a “slum,” invisible and disposable during modernization schemes.

See my Blog: Invisible DTES for all the reasons why this garden party is vital to community rebuilding and honouring Olaf Solheim’s life.

The garden party was held at the Union Street and Gore Avenue Park:

The Union Street Party posters were designed by Julia Frederick, a resident of NHP:


Read More:

Madden et al. (2018). No freeways on the horizon: The path to livability. Trail Six. The University of British Columbia (UBC): Geography Department, Volume 12, pp. 25-40.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *