Jeremiah Owyang had a post asking why tech has not solved homelessness in the bay area. The obvious snark that’s far below me would be “Yeah, that’s shocking, tech people having difficulty handling social situations.” I know, here I am talking about compassionate stuff and opening being a mean jerk. It’s still funny.
It’s cliche (but still true) to say there’s no easy answer, but there are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about (and I try to write up the lessons of the week as #FriLearning – Garry encouraged me to do this).
One problem is that homelessness is a bundle of many things. People having economic difficulty are a different problem than those with mental illnesses, substance abuse is another massive issue. AND, these are not mutually exclusive and a cover a wide spectrum from a little trouble to hazardous. Everybody I know that’s spent time on Market Street has a story about somebody doing something crazy and threatening others. I’ve seen law enforcement struggle with maintaining everyone’s safety and rights, doing all they can to negotiate with the irrational. I can’t give them enough credit for dealing with that daily.
Our country was created as a land of opportunity – you have a chance to go out and get it. I used to think that now a small amount of people have most of it. Having done more research, it’s been that way for most of human civilization, this is not new. I used to think that putting more effort into “helping the poor” was the answer. This divides us and it creates a real problem at the dividing line. The democratic party got a rude awakening this election from voters in the middle class that weren’t excited about paying more to make healthcare more affordable for others.
Maybe it’s not about “the poor” but trying to find a way to make food, shelter, medical care and taking responsibility for others part of who we are. And you can help, there’s no reason to wait for an ambitious government official to figure it out.
Things that guide my opinions: HandUp is has been trying interesting things. The Guardian on the homeless offered trips out of town. Our local food pantry.
Notes: Searching for “FriLearning” in twitter brings them up in chronological, searching on #FriLearning orders them some other way.
One reply on “Our Community”
Thanks for the shout out John! We must be on the same wavelength, I’ve put most of my charitable effort into the Food Bank of Northeast New York. They coordinated the delivery of over 35 MILLION POUNDS of food to the needy in our communities here.
One of my biggest learnings working there is that each recipient has a story, and those stories are worth listening to. There is no magic bullet solution except ongoing compassion and continuing to have faith in humanity. In my position, we strive to give 1% of time, revenue, and product to charity. This has amounted to a lot over the years. Imagine if everyone followed suit, it’s amazing what 1% can accomplish.