Saturday, March 28, 2009

homeless march

Cathy and Myrna and I attended a film-showing and forum about homelessness in Vancouver on Monday evening. It was at the Vancouver Library. The film and discussion were both very compelling. It made all of us think about how simultaneously complex and simple the problem is, and it gave us a wake up call about how we can help make a difference.

So on Saturday, we'll join the Grand March for Housing. It's not just a Vancouver problem, but being part of a very visible awareness event in Vancouver will help draw attention and perhaps sway popular and political will.

Other things we discussed/learned/thought about that ordinary people can do about homelessness (some pointed out to us by the film and panelists, others we talked about or already practice in our lives):
  • Get to know a homeless person in your work or home neighbourhood. Learn your neighbour's name and give that person recognition/consideration/respect like anyone else in the neighbourhood.
  • Help others understand that homeless people aren't homeless because of some fault or failure of their own (and conversely that we aren't comfortable and safe because we are especially virtuous or deserving). Talk about issues of homelessness with friends and family, and challenge false statements made by others.
  • Teach your kids to be generous to people who look and act differently from themselves. Do this by modeling the behaviour yourself talking together about it.
  • Volunteer with an organization that helps address issues of homelessness - work at a shelter, collect food or clothing, raise funds, write letters.
  • Talk to your MP, MLA and civic politicians and ask them to stop shrugging off the housing problem as "not our jurisdiction." That's getting old. Encourage cooperative efforts. Work on the problem now, and worry about whose job it is later.
  • Direct some of your charity giving to organizations that address this issues of help for the homeless and creation of affordable housing.
  • Elect governments that care for people, all people.
  • Make art that speaks to themes of inclusion, compassion and kindness to all people.
  • Give recognition and support to leaders, businesses, organizations and families who practice generous and compassionate ways towards homeless people and the issues of housing.
  • Have compassion for those whose hearts and minds are closed to these issues, and keep bugging them (gently) to understand the problem better.
  • Challenge NIMBYism (not in my back yard). This problem is everywhere, and belongs to everyone. It needs to be addressed locally and personally, and not passed on to other neighburhoods.
question: who do you know who does not have a home?

mompoet - YIOBY (yes, in our back yard)

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