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social services | sustainability

Outreach versus Inreach

Having a virtual ban on anything I have been submitting to Street Roots,in Portland Oregon, I turn to this forum to share a better way to get services to the poor,and transient.
Why not open up the atriums in Downtown Portland,and let folks hang out there. I believe with such a freedom,those using these safe havens would self police,self govern themselves. I know that if they put a bathroom in say the Bank of America atrium,and a public shower,I wouldn't trash where I ate,so to speak. Instead,even in winter time,with all the folks passing through Portland,and those who are houseless,have to seek shelter,and services at inreach locales. Sisters of the Road,for example,a place to get a cheap meal,and to hang out closes at 2:45 PM. after that,folks have to scatter. There is literally no place safe to hang out,without having to buy something,or have a good reason to be in an indoor structure. In New York City,for example,they gave small,tax incentives to businesses to allow folks to just hang out. They put chairs and tables down. There were facilitators rather than burly men in white shirts and a badge lurking around waiting for an unauthorized visitor to saunter in. Do you know how nice it would be to mingle with business people and find out we have more in common than we have differences. True diversity. I feel the suits stand to benefit by looking at the world through a different lens as much as the down and outers,drifters,and sightseers would benefit by having a place to meet and connect up. We are adults. Not everybody is corporate. Yet,it seems that to shut down the sensoriums of so many white collar workers to the rest of the population doesn't make for good outreach and Public relations amongst the peasantry. Besides,it is a worthy goal to learn how to communicate and relate on a daily basis with those who are coming from a different socio-economic,ethnic or racial place. In New York they threw out zoning. They said,bring it on. You learn from every experience you have in life. Life should not be lived with just those we agree with,work with,and those who think like us and communicate using the same jargon we use. This city has a problem with relating to others not of our kind. If black,white,hispanic,poor,and underemployed were to mingle with the rich,what harm would that cause. The worst thing that could happen is that everybody would get along better,trust our brethren more,and be able to understand,even empathize with other people like never before. Is that so bad? I think Portland can reach for such a goal in the future. When they curfewed the park blocks,nothing was given back to those who now can't hang out there at night. It can be win win,not just take, take. History shows when one minority population gets too demanding, arrogant insulated,and doesn't show compassion or care for a larger,but lesser privaleged population,revolt,and social unrest occurs. Why go there? It worked in New York,it can work here. They called it Public Access.Sure, not every corporate,and business property owner went for the idea,but enough did to make it a success. It's good P.R. for business owners. Plus,volunteers of America as in NYC,could come in and pass out bag lunches,warm clothing,etc...That is outreach. Help coming to those in need. Right now,if you want help,you have to stand in line,in the cold,at a specified time. Think about it. Folks are watching us out of the corner of their eye. We have many people moving in here. We want to be accomodating to visitors. What if there are Van Gogh's out there freezing to death,and starving on our streets. They will leave with a bad taste in their mouth,and probably not come back,or recommend other artists to visit here. We don't just want those climbing up the corporate ladder to feel welcome in our inner core. We have a real opporutunity here to be trendsetters,nationally. Show the rest of the U.S. and the world, our sphinxsters aren't zippered shut. Having poor,and temporarily down and out folks hanging around where you work,and I am not talking about having full access to the building,but just atriums,isn't going to cause you to come down with a disease. You probably won't suddenly want to quit your job as a lawyer,insurance executive,or real estate mogul to join their ranks. You won't look like a mark for giving back a little to your community. Think of your legacy. Think long term. What if poor and rich mingled and networked. Maybe Van Gogh had something to offer Andrew Carnegie,and missed the opportunity to cash in on such an association. Don't miss out on your opportunity to get the most from your life experience Downtown. Who knows,maybe it could spread to the burbs. I say lets take some baby steps. If we can't trust our fellow citizens so we must exclude them from areas you frequent,we aren't going in the right direction,are we?