If 62 years on this earth have taught me anything, it is that with time we become more reflective. Let me share with you something that has been on my mind lately.
My experience working in education, economic development, and now with the unhoused continue to leave me a bit unsettled and desiring more inclusive communities that value every one of its members.
NIMBYism is reflective of our desire to exclude “others” that we may deem undesirable. People that may not measure up to our wealth, values, or intellect are told to go elsewhere, and we do all sorts of crafty things to keep them out. We make rules and build structures that serve our purpose but may be morally questionable. Our zoning laws are a prime example.
My point is this – a healthy, thriving community provides a place for all because it is the right thing to do and leads to an ecosystem where everyone has an important role to play in making it interesting and sustainable. If we give in to our fears and keep the “others” out, our communities will eventually stifle intellectually and cease to grow. Take a moment to look around – the healthiest communities are those that are the most diverse from a socio-economic and cultural perspective. If we are honest with ourselves, we have a lot of work to do. A society divided based on income, power, property, and intellect is not healthy for anyone.
What I know of the unhoused is that they are people like you and me. I urge you to learn about their demographic diversity – the families, the old and the young, the women and the men, most of whom are in crisis. Most go about their daily business like you and me. Most make our communities richer for their inclusion.
Think about it this way – the “other” can be anyone of us at some point in our lives. How does that feel?
Will Arvelo, Executive Director