Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gone Fishing (Thursday LINKS)

According to Wiktionary, the parable "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime" is derived from a 19th Century novel Mrs Drymond:

"...I suppose the Patron meant that if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn. But these very elementary principles are apt to clash with the leisure of the cultivated classes. Will Mr. Bagginal now produce his ticket - the result of favour and the unjust sub-division of spiritual environments?"

Contrary to 21st Century faux-theology, this parable is not derived from the Bible, which states:

"Now when your brother sinks down (in poverty) and his hand falters beside you, then you shall strengthen him as a sojourner and resident-settler, and he is to live beside you." (Leviticus 25:35)

But...he brought his fishin' pole, right?  Because I'm not having my brother live beside me if he can't fish.

Don't get me wrong, I believe it is a very noble sentiment...that is unjustly used to reject any type of social safety net to help those in need.  Never mind the irony that many of the world's poorest people are fishermen and in the United States nets an annual income of approximately $25,590.

The other day I saw one of our elected leaders post this column to their Facebook page.  It is called "Teaching Jim to Fish for Himself" and is about one proud Compassionate Conservative's journey from finding homeless people yucky to...telling them to get a job.  I'm being a little snarky here, but I won't say my summary is too far off.  In the midst of all of our work for Living in Recovery, and my personal experiences with those living in the woods, I was taken aback by this post and felt compelled to start a dialogue:

[Insert Representative's Name], this piece completely mischaracterizes the homeless in America based on the author's anecdotal experience. I truly hope this is not how you view this problem and that you understand that not all homelessness is due to laziness, addiction, or personal fault. Unfortunately, there are not kind-hearted rich folks to direct the "dirty" homeless to the job down the street, as described in this piece. Rather, we have an untrained manufacturing/construction work-force that is one disability away from being without employment. We do not need government hand-outs, but we also don't need misinformation like this. I hope you will consider supporting grassroots efforts like Living in Recovery, which looks to help those looking to help themselves. They operate in ways similar to the protagonist in this article, but in ways that are much more realistic.

The response:

Not how I view it, I was impressed with her "evolution". She focused on real solutions, not just impersonal and outs or three times removed government programs. 

I may be stubborn, but I'm not stupid.  I know a done deal when I see one, and clicked away from the page.

But since then, I've thought about "teaching Jim to fish".  What happens when the pond is empty?  Are we willing to teach Jim to hunt?  Trap?  Find edible plant-stuffs?  How much time are we willing to spend with Jim and are we willing to have him come back to us if the skills don't work?  If we want to have an honest conversation, and not just some flippant limerick, about the current employment situation in America, can we really do so without at least mentioning that large sectors of our economy (i.e., fishing holes) have been wiped out and our workforce needs to be retrained?  How about the fact that the people teaching the Jimmy's and Sally's of the world to fish (i.e., teachers) are some of our lowest paid professionals?  Might that affect the way we fish?

It seems like everyone loves the grand applicability of a fortune cookie public policy until we unfold the implications. 

How about this one: Would you hire someone that has not showered or shaved in three days, is wearing dirty clothes, and appears constantly tired?  Would you think less of someone else for refusing to do so?  

That's the real end of failed-actress-turned-Town-Hall-Columnist Ann-Marie Murrell's story.  If the camera had followed Jim down the street as he hurried to the job site, we would see him shooed off the grounds by an angry manager.  Or maybe he gets to ask for that job and hear that he should "check back later".  Maybe even under the most humane of circumstances that manager says "If you can find a place to clean yourself up, come back and we can talk."  But one thing that is certain is that the only happy ending was for the "Compassionate Conservative" who gave a half-assed fishing lesson to a homeless man named Jim.


I loved this article about non-profit Community Development Corporations that are taking on quasi-governmental roles to augment urban development and translate community interests into action.  I think that at its best, the Columbia Downtown Partnership will meet this profile and augment, supplement, and synergize the work done by Howard Hughes.

Get your Maryland corn now, as the projections for later this year are coming up short due to dry weather.  Between the Feastival and our CSA, Jane and I have had plenty of corn, but I will still miss it when it is gone. 

Speaking of vegetables, Jane and I watched Forks Over Knives last night on Netflix.  I cannot recommend it highly enough, particularly for those currently on statins or battling other chronic diseases.  At the end of the day, the most important question you can ask yourself is "How much do I want to feel better?"

DREAM Act supporters have officially launched their campaign, while opponents are well...tell us what you're doing Del. McDonough? "Even though we don't have an organization, we do have the sentiment of the people." 

I'm always up for a good book recommendation, so I loved this piece in the New Yorker about famous author recommendations for "what to read next".  Although the author was discussing book recommendations, I did appreciate this bit about "content curation":

"There’s been a lot of handwringing lately about “curation” (the original meaning of the word has morphed into something else entirely; maybe we still lack a needed word). It has come to signify sifting through the ever-increasing avalanche of “content” in order to identify the things that are worthiest of our attention, and bringing those things to an interested audience. In fact, there should be no question about this at all; with our time and attention being limited as they are, it’s crucial that we have skilled cultural guides."

Featured Blog Post of the Day: There were so many good posts yesterday that I have to pick two.  The first is Sarah's post about Bicycle Superhighways (sounds like a cool name for a band) and the other is Matt's commitment to our daily rag, which is getting smaller by the day; however, by my observation is also increasing the quality of content.

For reasons I can't quite explain, every morning I get anxious about us reaching the $5,000 goal.  Then, when you all prove me wrong day after day, it feels all the better. We raised $245 yesterday, putting us at $4,455, which is only $645 away from the goal.  I am also very proud to note that we have had 65 donors to the project.  Remember, even if you can only contribute $5, simply adding your name to the rolls is a much larger contribution to what we are trying to accomplish.

Thank You's:
Jim Vannoy
Ada Bohorfoush
Marcy Leonard
Tom O'Conner

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love!