Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stop Feeding the Homeless? (Part II in light of NPR Interview)

Photo Courtesy of Philly Restart

The proposed regulations and ban on outdoor "feedings" of the homeless in Center City, to be enforced by Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia beginning in 2013, continue to draw a variety of reactions. There are those who boldly condemn the pending ordinance and those who find it a step in the right direction in order to "clean up the streets" and reduce dependency. Many have sought to protest, demanding a change in the Mayor's stance; others have considered this an opportunity to envision fresh alternatives to street-side feedings and move towards indoor gatherings, the provision of social services, and bold celebrations of human dignity with those who call the streets (or shelters) their "home."

As I said before, I am torn.

I think this is a very complicated matter that warrants significant and numerous conversations. Nonetheless, I am grateful that all of this has provoked many to talk about the crisis and look for informed answers, long-term solutions, and next they indoors or outdoors.

I am grateful for the variety of voices that are being lifted up in response to Nutter's decision. This includes today's WHYY interview with two friends of mine, Adam Bruckner (Philly Restart) and Bill Golderer (Convening Minister at Broad Street Ministry). [click link to listen and download mp3] These fellow conspirers against homelessness and poverty share compassion and solidarity, while at the same time differ in paradigmatic approach: one strives for indoor feasts and extrvanganzas (BSM), the other quite comfortable with the "family bar-b-que" on the parkway (Philly Retstart). Both Golderer and Bruckner, whom I have served alongside, believe that in such communal engagements, the homeless can celebrate their dignity, find fresh opportunities for advocacy, converse with their neighbors, and be directed to a variety of critical social services to help lift them from their circumstances. I am indebted to the voices of these friends, who provide thoughtful, prophetic, and varied dialogue for those still pondering what all this means.

That said, I hope we can join them in their discourse and quest for a different, albeit possible, world where homelessness will not only be alleviated in Philadelphia, but also in cities near and far.

What are your thoughts?


See also:

Statement by Shane Claiborne and the Simple Way.

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