As the weather starts to turn colder and darker, it's hard not to think about the people living outside. It's likely that the coldest you feel today, as you walk to your car or from your car, is the warmest they'll feel all day. I don't offer this to pull on your heart strings as much as I do to communicate the empathetic component of understanding an issue. How do you "get a job" when you can't think straight? How do you "take personal responsibility for yourself" when base survival is still such a pressing topic? Shouldn't all party planks regarding the poor, conservative to liberal, start with a base acceptance that we need to get people inside?
But even if we can get universal acceptance on an umbrella policy idea, the "where" is a political lightening rod. Look at the quotes from North Laurel in consideration of the apartment complex that will house 33 to 50 chronically homeless men an women (interesting how that number changed). These quotes are not new. "Wander", "Property Value", "Background Check." All legitimate concerns, but most likely without assuaging. We don't want people in the cold, but we also don't want them as neighbors. Maybe it is some unchangeable construct that if we live next to someone coming off the street, we, in some cosmic way, are a step away from living on the street.
All my interactions with the acute and chronically homeless notwithstanding, I would still have concerns if the townhouse next door was being made into a group home. We are afraid of those who have had to wake up every day with survival a conscious goal. For good reason. Morals bend. Desperation justifies. But, if we're going to make the changes that need to happen to end homelessness (which is an entirely realistic goal in this County), we need to confront those fears and prejudices. Look into the eyes of your neighbor and realize that they had a favorite television show growing up. They hoped for something more out of their eight decades. Their ability to experience anxiety, fear, happiness, and shame is no different than yours. And we take a risk by sharing close space, but not so much more that we are inviting "danger". It is the risk that this person's attempt to rejoin the community, out of the cold, will fail. A risk borne ten times over by the person at issue.
In the meantime, we're just throwing around labels. "Homeless". Not "Anne, Jeff, and Joey." If it were the latter, I do wonder how the conversation would change. Especially if Ann, Jeff, and Joey sat in the room and faced down those who will accuse them of wandering, stealing, and acting up.
The 10th season of the Grassroots Cold Weather Shelter program is underway and will run until March 24th. Last year, there were 74 participants, including 12 children. The Cold Weather Shelter program is operated by a network of 16 churches that open up space for one to two weeks. This year's participating churches are:
Atholton Seventh Day Adventist Church,
Bethany United Methodist Church,
Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church,
Columbia Community Church,
Covenant Baptist Church,
First Presbyterian Church of Howard County,
Gary Memorial United Methodist Church,
Glen Mar United Methodist Church,
Grace Community Church,
Kittamaqundi Community Church,
Linden-Linthicum United Methodist Church,
New Hope seventh Day Adventist Church,
Owen Brown Interfaith Center,
St. John Baptist Church,
St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
and St. Paul’s Catholic Church.
If you would like to consider contributing towards Grassroots and their effort to bring people inside, you can do so via this link.
Allen Dyer is so out of office. How out of office is he? He lost an election and was impeached. To quote Sara Toth: "An administrative law judge overseeing the impeachment proceedings of former Howard County Board of Education member Allen Dyer has recommended Dyer be removed from office — two days after Dyer's term ended." All jokes aside (and there will be many), I'm told that this decision still has value for the Board of Education in defining their powers and the standard of behavior for BoE members. While we may be frustrated with the cost and prolonged process, the end product will be valuable in ensuring that Dyer's term, and the shenaningans related to the same, are limited to a single term by an ineffective politician.
I watched the lighting of the Washington Monument last night on Channel 11 and I have to admit...it got me into the Christmas mood. Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is near impossible. Outside of the four days before Christmas, I'm a bit of a Humbug. A meeting with someone doing a project for the Columbia Archives will bring me to the Mall Starbucks on Monday, violating my half-decade long pledge to avoid the scene from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and I am dreading the experience. But seeing all those kids, and even some of the adults, show that kind of joy for no other reason than a larger concept of what this time of year "means" was touching. (And yes, I know that it all changes "when you have kids", please please refrain from posting the same in the comments...in fact, just never use that term around those of us who still like to eat out without a $30/hr babysitter surcharge.)
The first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples yesterday and my wedding ring still works. Miraculous.
Baltimore sports writers are split on the Ravens/Redskins game (guess which way Ed Lee went). I can't figure out this game. RG3 is spectacular, but the Ravens tend to do well with one dimensional teams. It is cliche to say that losing to Charlie Batch was a "wake-up call", but the Ravens don't normally lose two games in a row (a stat that means absolutely nothing). I need to stop there. I am tripping over sports cliches in an attempt to predict the unpredictable. I apologize for making fun of you for the past three years, Jon Gruden.
Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB gives a more detailed review of the decision removing the removed Allen Dyer from office. He even is mentioned in the opinion...as "Woodbones." That's the type of nickname that needs to be followed by a last name like Magillicutty.
That's all for today. Have a fantastic Friday doing what you love! It's impossible not to.