I got this through an email list I am a part of. It blew my mind. If people like this are going to start to get active then I absolutely need to get active. This is a proposed petition letter to city hall:
"We would like to raise our concerns about the proposed redesign of Federal Square Fountain and Plaza which has been put forward to buttress the re-development of the new Hanover Theater. The recently announced plans call for the complete elimination of the benches that are presently part of the plaza. While we recognize the value in improving access to the new theater from the Federal Square parking garage by removing fencing that hinders pedestrian traffic, we feel the removal of park benches and public seating is a step backwards. The removal of park benches frequently used by those who are low-income and homeless in exchange for improved pedestrian access is both an unnecessary trade-off and unacceptable direction for new development. Removing the benches effectively creates a barrier to the presence of the low income and homeless people who currently make use of these benches in Federal Square. At the same time, bench removal isn't necessary for improved access to the theater. Development in Worcester should be inclusive of everyone's needs in our community. For years, Worcester has taken active steps and engaged community residents in efforts to increase public space. It is important that we see Federal Plaza not simply as an "amenity" connected to the new theater, but as a community amenity as well. If we are to continue the journey towards being a creative city, increasing, rather than eliminating public space must remain a priority in all of our development efforts. We ask that you reject any redevelopment plan for Federal Square that eliminates park benches and community space. Sincerely,"
I kind of want to sign it. Because I don't want those benches removed either. To want to promote a little corner of downtown right in front of The Hanover as a refuge for the homeless is assinine however. The theater's success or failure means so much to the downtown neighborhood and helping the city become more of a creative and cultured city. A park full of homeless and alcohol and drug addled folk are not going to help matters. Are people really on this much crack? The concentration should not be giving them a gorgeous downtown destination to hang out in, the concentration should be in coming up with ways to make sure younger folks don't end up in their position eventually. They already chose their path, and yes it is sad. If we put all our rescources towards homeless prevention however, then we can actually wipe it out. These folks who have already reached the purgatory that is homelessness and addiction will take care of themselves eventually. We as a society should not be doing anything to make things more pleasant for them, that's not doing them any favors. If we can make that rock bottom rush up a little sooner that might help them out a bit. Really, let's not give them a comfy place to be on the nod. Now that we have that straight let's work on programs that will steer more people away from this type of life. Prevention. Say it with me. PRE-VEN-TION.
Here is a harsh reality for the young and idealistic because I was one of you and still am one of you in some ways and I am sure I still have many slaps in the face coming my way. Right now you don't have alot of disposable income. Once you get that social services job (that still isn't going to pay a whole lot) you are going to want to spend some of that money. The idealist in you thinks that when you start earning that extra money you are going to keep just enough to get by on and donate the rest to charities and organizations that benefit the community. If you were able to do this for a while that would be great. Or maybe you won't. Either way when and if you wake up in Worcester Massachusetts with dollars in your hand you are going to want to either spend some of that money on giving yourself a very well earned good time or go out and celebrate the fact that you and your charitable friends are better humans then those neanderthals that aren't so charitable. When you look around what you might find is that there is a very short list of bars, restaurants, shops and other things that you are going to feel good about handing your hard earned dollar over too. You will get sick of the fact that every Saturday there are only about 5 things that you and your friends can come to a consensus on as far as how you are going to spend your time and you do those 5 things for years and years over and over again. At some point you will say to yourself, "What the hell, Worcester?" This is the crossroads.
Some of you might think that last paragraph has nothing to do with the arguement. Trying to go into what these two ideas have to do with each other might take a book. I cannot begin to tackle this concept in one blog entry. I just tried and found myself going on and on without any conclusion. I think the only conclusion I can come up with is that I wish more people would put more effort into permanently fixing problems instead putting band aids on them. A park with a fountain isn't going to help the homeless. All it's going to do is make them forget for a while. Ultimately in the end it's up to them whether they want to fix their life. They won't take any of us up on our do gooder offers of help until they are ready. They won't be ready until they reach rock bottom. Let's not pull them away from the fire before they feel it's burn.