This past week I have been traveling across the Northwest Pacific area for the purpose of stepping away from my work and giving myself the opportunity to reassess what it is that I would like to accomplish in the near future.
MSP -> SEA -> PDX -> EUG -> PDX -> MSP
Between wondering where I would be sleeping on certain nights, witnessing the peculiar dynamics of the homeless population with surrounding populations, and receiving unfathomable acts of kindness from complete strangers, I have experienced a lot in this short amount of time. Despite my experiences, I cannot say that I have unshrouded the mystery before me.
Although riddled with questions, I was able to get away from the work I had entrenched myself in. I never truly got away because I’m always thinking about Busy Bee or some derivative of the idea. My exposure to the homeless populations of the area was the most influential part of my journey. I have seen homelessness in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but not like this. The peculiar part about it lies in the fact that the residents are prompted to honk at the homeless that have set up their tents along the highway. Littered along the highway is a deplorable amount of trash because of the homeless setting up shop there.
This approach baffles me…
Programs have been piloted by other cities that utilize a methodology of employing the homeless and providing them with benefits after a day of work. The work in this case entailed visiting spots in the city that required some sort of low-skill/no-skill labor. Think: weeding, landscaping, and so on. At the end of the work day these individuals were granted the ability to address their needs, whether they were medical or employment-based. Many institutions work at pairing homeless individuals with jobs, but I think there is a component missing that is replaced with the idea that everybody can earn their own keep. While this idea is nice and perpetuates a driven society, many have lost the will to fend for themselves and instead depend upon others because of the seemingly endless climb towards stability.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
This notion assumes that this is a dog-eat-dog world. One in which one must secure their own opportunities because they are capable. However, this in turn condemns those who are incapable to a circumstance that would leave them to die unless they did something. This is a very Darwinian ideal, “survival of the fittest,” and one that should be abandoned because we are living in a world that values human life and the pursuit of prosperity. We should be lifting each other up, not letting each other die.
Our approach to homelessness is counterintuitive in a lot of respects. I agree that expending one’s own resources is cumbersome, and perhaps foolish, but approaching the issue from the mindset that not everybody can make it on their own, that providing a framework for people to work in instead of leaving them to navigate it alone can bring people who want to work back into the workforce, can keep our public spaces cleaner and safer, and can also bring our communities closer together.
Busy Bee aims to do just that. We leverage the needs of a population such as students or homeless individuals, and in turn fulfill the needs of community members, businesses and institutions.
Let’s build our community through opportunity.