What an awesome time it is to be a part of StreetMeals! We’re learning, adapting and growing every time we get out there and engage with people around us. We’re asking questions, listening, sharing, imagining and creating—it’s an incredibly energizing experience because you get to see the effects of your actions right away! There’s little doubt in my mind that people power is one of the greatest resources in the world and I’m becoming more and more confident in the idea that,
And it’s amazing what a little direction can do for your focus.
Many times in the past I would sit around thinking to myself that I could do things better here or there but it wasn’t until I got out there on the streets and tried, that I realized what it really takes to affect change for those in need around me:
You have to listen. You have to be flexible. And you have to act on what you learn!
Through the process of creating and conducting our own philanthropic project, Dino and I are really beginning to appreciating the power of our personal, social and technological resources. Not only are we both fortunate enough to live here in Canada: a peaceful, prosperous society with lots of social and technological infrastructure; but we also each know a bunch of amazing people! And in my opinion, at the end of the day, it’s the people we share this project with and the people that get involved that will make the difference! And so far, we’ve been able to attract some tremendously talented and insightful volunteers that are helping us take StreetMeals to the next level and towards some very promising and important long-term goals.
When we first began to plan this project a few months ago we had some solid ideas about what we hoped to accomplish, and what we felt could actually be achieved, but now that we are out there in the guts of this thing, we’re realizing that if you really want to affect change in this arena you have to get out there and listen first, plan second.
I really thought at the beginning of this project that most of the people I saw out on the streets all day had nowhere to go at night except for a cramped shelter or grungy hostel; moreover, I had the impression that the city, and the province of BC, was not working hard enough to create affordable housing and support programs for people surviving on the streets in Vancouver. It turns out, after doing a little research via the BC Provincial Housing Strategy and the final report from the 2010 Homeless Count, that I was incorrect, a bit.
The city and the province are indeed enjoying some success with their programs and do in fact have a very promising plan in place to mitigate homelessness and provide support. But I can’t help but feel something is still missing; especially after speaking directly with the people using these programs and services on a daily basis. There appears to be a subtle disconnection between how the housing programs and the social support services integrate with each other. At some point along the chain of implementation for these services and programs a solution is not presenting itself at the individual level and I suspect that at least part of the problem is that too many resources are being used to give people fish and not enough are begin used to teach fishing.
We’re looking into all this as we go, so we still have a lot to learn and explore, but we know one thing for sure: want to use StreetMeals to shed some light on the dynamics between the housing programs and the social support serves. Hopefully we’ll be able to generate some simple but effective ideas to take to the City of Vancouver for action!
It’s great to live in an age where change is not only possible but flourishing!
This morning I watched one of my favourite TedTalks, again, by Katherine Fuller. She’s an author, teacher, speaker and also President of the Monitor Institute, an organization pioneering breakthrough next practices in how complex social problems are framed, funded and ultimately solved. During this TedTalk, Katherine paints a picture for the future of philanthropy and explores how regular people can achieve amazing things!
We’re approaching a new social zeitgeist—Katherine calls it the social singularity: all the traditional barriers to change, charity and collaboration are breaking down—and it’s an exciting time to be peering over the precipice of new possibilities from the event horizon!