Every activist has read the increasing number of stories where homelessness is being criminalized, as if simply being homeless isn’t punishment enough. However, there is a rising tide among all walks of life that is beginning to view homelessness in a very different light.
As a sinking economy and the criminal actions of the banking elite are leading many middle class, stable families into abject poverty, it is becoming much easier to identify with the less fortunate the closer their plight appears to be. Defenders of the homeless are becoming much more vocal now. We have seen some amazing examples recently of people moved to help those in need through programs such as an artist who paints and sells portraits of the homeless and gives them the profits; a former homeless man who gives back to the homeless by selling book reviews and buying food to share; or the inspiring story of a community organizer who used his own faith to connect with those from other faiths in a common cause of feeding those in need.
We are even seeing people of conscience openly defying oppressive laws to draw a line in the sand that says: if it becomes illegal to help one another on our own terms, we simply have no freedom left to celebrate.
Feeding the homeless has also gone from the concept of a “handout” of money to allow people to buy whatever meager sustenance they can find, to realizing that if people are going to have any chance of turning their financial situation around, they must be physically and mentally fit to do so. A key cornerstone to building oneself back up again is nutrition … and if it’s “free” nutrition, then all the better!
An organization in Atlanta is calling themselves Task Force For the Homeless and should be highlighted for their message and their tactics to restore dignity and prosperity to those who have fallen on hard times. They have chosen to combine two essential approaches to reverse the conditions which afflict the homeless the most: not having access to healthy food, and not being able to connect with others who are working in structured way to engage in practical solutions.
Enter the organic community rooftop garden.
Residents of the homeless shelter are now engaged in community building while providing for themselves food that only costs what their own efforts naturally produce.
Instead of processed foods given through donation, their rooftop garden has 80 beds of the most diverse range of vegetables, fruits and herbs that can be produced on site.
Now, instead of waiting for their next meal, they have taken action to ensure that each and every day they are well fed and well nourished.
Best of all, this group of homeless has now gained something that goes beyond even the food itself – the skills required to produce, manage, distribute and plan for the future – a future which too often exists as minute-by-minute sacrifice instead of days of abundance.