Dreamers Wanted

Thurston County's "Dream the Dream" forum happened yesterday. The forum was intended to be a diverse group of local residents, including business-owners, creating a plan to end homelessness in our county. According to the Olympian, however, the dream of the forum wasn't fully realized, as it was mostly attended by the same people who already work on these issues everyday. Few from the private sector attended.
I admit, I was amongst the non-attendees, though I had entertained the notion of going for a while. I found myself facing my own cynicism. The same kind of cynicism that had people name the forum, "Dream the Dream". I thought, "Yeah, keep dreamin, dreamers." And I felt that it would be too sad to go and spend a whole day thinking about homelessness.
I worked in the poverty industry in this town for several years. It was my blood, sweat, and tears for a while. I quit about 6 months ago. And for some reason yesterday the idea of facing the overwhelming obstacle of homelessness absoloutely filled me with unspeakable despair. I don't know how I got this way.
I used to be so fired up about it.
But now I find myself thinking that I could not stand to be in that room and watch people spin their brilliant visions of hope, only to watch the same problems continue in our community. Whatever great shelter they create, or streamlined services, or new rehab program, its still going to be the same groups fighting over the same slice of the pie, and it will never be enough.
What do I do about this?
I know there are others who feel the same way. That's why we do nothing. That's why we avoid looking street people in the face. That's why we throw money at them, or lobby to get rid of them. I know I am part of the problem. How do we face this horrible grief? How do we find the strength to do anything?

I am really at a loss of cool ideas right now.


Anonymous Machete Red said...

I was there, and man-oh-man was it not like that. The one big thing I took away from the day's discussions is this: capitalism sucks and until we make human life (not money) the bottom line, we will never feel human. There was a lot of talk about cost-benefit analysis, and I got the feeling that those in attendance were actually thinking sustainably (ie, the cost includes human dignity, the benefit includes quality of life and I don't mean hanging flower baskets). I was completely reinvigorated by the event, which is a rare thing considering I work in the "poverty industry" and have had many opportunities for disenchantment (some of which I took). I want to thank everyone who was there, for coming and for being open to dreams. Dream on, beautiful dreamers! In the context of the cynical present, anything that speaks possibility into the future must sometimes look like a dream.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

Perhaps it doesn't even require doing away with capitalism. Just reinventing why and where we spend our money as consumers and business people.
We must end the worship of the dollar as giver of life. Its true "you get what you pay for". Right now most of us are paying for money, and so a culture that prioritizes individual wealth is what we have.
If we all paid instead for real things that give life-love, creativity, community, inventiveness, inspiration- we would have them.
Thanks. I feel a little more like myself now.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Machete Red said...

Anytime. Reading my own words, I can hardly believe that it was really like that. I have already slipped back into the resignation a little. But, there will be follow-through: workgroups, plans, legislation, new partnerships... I will carry the feeling of possibility with me (occasionally dormant though it might be)into those meetings, and keep it alive for others. We are all subject to cynicism--it's one of the things we pay for.

7:01 PM  

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