Remembering Harold Lavender, founding editor of the Downtown East and Volcano Newspapers

Harold Lavender has been a prolific writer, activist, and constant comrade in anti-poverty, climate change, and anti-capitalist movements in Vancouver for decades. A full collection of their writing would run into many hundreds of pages and include articles from the New Socialist magazine from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, and Socialist Challenge, which Harold wrote and co-edited before that. We at The Volcano are working on collecting this work, but that will take more time and resources than we could marshall for the memorial for the occasion of Harold’s passing – which was not surprising, but still felt sudden. For their memorial, we assembled a selection of articles that Harold wrote for the Downtown East and The Volcano newspapers through the last 6 years of their life.

In 2011, as a Steering Committee member of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council (DNC), Harold helped found the Downtown East newspaper, and they remained on the editorial board through the transition of the publication to The Volcano, as they also became a member of the Alliance Against Displacement (AAD) collective. These articles only scratch the surface of the the political contribution Harold made to the DNC and AAD, but in them you can read the compassion, curiosity, and stubborn determination that characterized their political commitment.

Harold’s writing is politically lucid, clear and written in a plain-language that is accessible to their working class Downtown Eastside neighbours who have a range of reading literacy. But don’t mistake this directness for simplicity, or assume a shallowness or watering down of Harold’s anti-capitalist radicalism.

Harold was committed to making radical politics real: they believed radical left and anti-colonial ideas are the political heartbeat of the streets, and that only revolutionary anti-capitalist politics held solutions to the problems that press so violently on our people every day. This brief selection of Harold’s work captures these core principles, and – we hope – can help us honour and remember Harold as we carry their legacy forward.

We are weaker for having lost Harold, but stronger for having known them.


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