This was my address to the Sarasota City Commission on August 18.
When Dr. Marbut came to speak to us last month, his most sage bit of advice on how to address our homeless situation was to simply do something. I want to commend the City of Sarasota for doing something. I want to commend you in advance for taking those steps toward becoming a community that does not view the shortcomings of our society as acceptable. For the only reason that Sarasota, or this thing we call civilization has an issue such as homelessness is that we have allowed it.I want to thank the City of Sarasota and the people therein for no longer allowing such a blight of unnecessary human suffering to exist in our community.
For too long have we carved our society out of the myth of independence and separation, creating larger and larger chasms between ourselves and our neighbors, ourselves and nature, and indeed between ourselves and our God. It is time that we start realizing our interdependence, and that regardless of our differences, even in the challenges we must individually endure, we must realize that we are all one human community, and none of us deserves to be deprived of the dignity of a place to sleep safely and someone to assure them that they are cared for.
These people that we have referred to as homeless, vagrants, street people, and bums are none of those things. They are people who have fallen from the grace of our manufactured civilization and are now seekers of a better way. They are Wayseekers, and it is up to us, as a creative, vibrant, industrious, and philanthropic community to show them the way.
I want to commend and thank Vallerie Guillory and the entirety of the Trinity Without Borders ministry for showing us the way, for reminding us that in order for our community to become what we want it to be, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.
I have heard criticisms of the Sherriff’s department being the overseeers of our initiative to help the homeless, and I have had them myself. But if that is the way that we go, I thank you for doing something. I have shared ideas with Vallerie on turning the Sanctuary of Sarasota into an area of creative, economic, and collaborative rehabilitation, and though our shared visions have yet to manifest, I thank her for doing something. At the Flow Factory and through the Common Wealth Time Bank, we are establishing programs such as the Reclamation Station to re-introduce these Wayseekers to craftsmanship by repurposing discarded furniture into works of decorative art in the hopes of helping them recreate themselves.
Ultimately, it does not matter what we do to address this situation for in this community, there is no shortage of creativity, innovation, resilience, or philanthropy. It does not matter what we do, what matters is that we do something. Hiring the foremost expert on homelessness to guide us on our way is a really good something.