-- I attended most of the Quality of Life for Downtown meeting, yesterday. The following is the comment I left this morning at www.nashvillecharrette.com Of course, people started right of with trying to discredit what I was saying. They don't want to hear it. --
I was there for a good portion of the Quality of Life meeting. And I too had to leave so to get into a shelter for the night, And I barely got in. (I digress)
Surely, the idea of having a "quality of life" task force was for the sake of the loft dwellers. As usual, there seems to be a general disregard for the opinions of homeless people. I personally have a problem with the Homeless Power Projects tactics of filling such forums with as many homeless people as possible. Most homeless people have no business being involved in the processes of public policy, because of their social and/or mental deficiencies. They hinder dialog and progress. Still, the interests of the homeless should be properly represented in issues involving downtown, as it is their home.
I really hope that this mole hill doesn't become a mountain, although I'm afraid that is the direction things are going. There really is no reason to fight over downtown, but if push comes to shove, there will be a fight. And I would certain encourage people to take the higher ground here, and let cooler heads prevail. I would also warn the URA to not underestimate the ability of the homeless, and their allies, to wage war on this and other related issues.
But that is not where I would like this conversation to go. There is a lot that needs to be learned, on both sides of the fence - starting with definitions. It was implied in one statement that only loft dwellers were residents of downtown. But actually, homeless people who live downtown are also "residents" of downtown. "Residents" only indicates people who live in a particular place, not the amount of money people spend achieving their residence. And in this great land of ours, where we champion equality, no distinction can be allowed in regards to rights based on income or wealth.
The important thing that can be gleaned from this meeting is that the Quality of Life that the loft dwellers desire, is directly related to inability of homeless people to achieve a quality life. Sure, the homeless were saying things like, "I need this - I need that," but the Loft Dwellers were saying the same thing. Both sides wanted the other side to give, or give up, something. Obviously, a compromise is in order.
The only way for the Quality of Life to improve for the Loft Dwellers, is for the Quality of Life for the homeless, and other street people, to improve. The idea that homeless people can be driven out of downtown is ridiculous (it can't be done) and should be abandoned. I once bought a house, during obviously better times, in the Whispering Hills area. Buying that house did not give me the right to have people removed from that neighborhood, just because I couldn't get along with them. And buying that house did not give me the right to control what happened on the streets, sidewalks or nearby parks. All of that was "public" domain, which the whole public, people I liked and people I didn't like, had equal rights to it. Everyone lives the best Quality of Life they can achieve, but sadly, some people are not very good at achieving much of anything. Most homeless people, especially the chronically homeless, do not have the skill sets necessary to grow beyond their current status. Therefore, someone will have to help those homeless achieve those skills. And since it is mainly the Loft Dwellers who will benefit from this, they should be the ones doing what it takes to make this happen.Still, this is a mole hill - the problems that Loft Dwellers face with homeless people are minimal - I haven't been panhandled by anyone in a long time - especially while walking down church street. It used to happen to me every day. Still, panhandling lasts all of a few seconds in a person's life - to allow the panhandling event to consume one's whole day is a sign of great immaturity.
Anyway, the solution to the problem is simple - raise the quality of life of homeless people and you raise the quality of life for everyone. Teach the homeless the things you know, the skills you use, to make a good life for yourself. Then everyone will benefit.