Food matters, Housing matters…all year long

When approached for money on the street, I am one of those people who doesn’t need to have your whole story…just needs to know that you’re in need.  In other words, I make no judgments on the why or what of your need.  You’re asking.  If I spend too much time thinking that everyone is out to game the system or me, then I’m missing opportunities to show someone that they matter – even when they might not think that I do.  Maybe that acknowledgment will make a difference, maybe not.

In the span of one day, I was asked for money to collect enough for train fare, asked for money for a gallon of gas to get to a friend’s apartment and asked for money to buy fruit. Unlike what usually happens, where each person asks and leaves it at that, on this day each wanted to offer a long explanation of their need. The train fare woman was prepared with a schedule and a tally of what she still needed to raise to get a ticket to her aunt’s house.  The gas man told me how many miles it was to his friend’s house (15 miles) and how he was going to crash with him while they worked a carpentry job. And the fruit woman wanted to make a pie, to thank her sister for taking in her and her two kids for the next few weeks.

Whoa, a pie in gratitude? This last story resonated with me.  Of course I had to ask what kind and where she got her recipe (apple…from their mom).  Of course I had to talk to her about food and housing, too.  I gave her some information about public fruit trees and gleaning (along with apple money). I also took her name and address so I could forward information about transitional housing for her and the kids.

It all just reminded me that sometimes you never know a person’s real reason for asking.  In the cases above, the real story was about housing…and certainly food.  November 14-20 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

But food and housing matters all year long.

Every day that you and I eat and have shelter is an opportunity to learn more about ways — big and small — to alleviate hunger and homelessness for others. It’s also a chance to trust that the asking can be reason enough.


Face Time

On Saturday we held our inaugural fundraiser for the OriginalGreen project at the Silver Lake Badminton Club, courtesy board member Andraleia Villand and her husband Kiino, replete with music by Josh Smith and soul food for twenty-two.  Great company.  I can truly say that my batteries were recharged.  We forget in this technological age that we really do need to get more face time with people. And not just people we know and have established patterns with.  Because that, while valuable, is easy; and it also doesn’t tend to expand us or challenge us or create new spaces for action.  Sometimes we just need to sit at the single seat in the joint and meet someone new.

Architects talked to painters.  Social workers talked to musicians.  Writers talked to firefighters.

It was an opportunity to show how increasing forums for interaction and exchange encourages the relationship building that leads to action.  But how does face time increase the value of community?  Well, as with anything valuable, you have to get people to want it and then do (buy) it.  Merely extolling the virtues of play is not what makes it so valuable —  it is the experience of playing!  Likewise, experiencing community can increase its value.

Part of being a member of a community is the communal aspect, which includes sharing and helping one another.  So our event was more than simply a fundraiser for OriginalGreen.  It was also the springboard for recurring gatherings to support local urban agriculture and sustainable practice, among other efforts.

We’re developing a valuable currency of community.  And there is definitely more face time in the future.