Re: Panel of homeless for resolving homelessness

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 18:44:10 -0700 (PDT)


Bill, this was an interesting idea and I certainly empathize with the
frustration that produced it.  But I believe, personally, that efforts
are most effective the closest they are to the ground.  Building from
the bottom up, creating our own resource networks like SHARE, is a slow
process, but it empowers more individuals at street level than the
top-down solution of a Panel of Experts seems to.  

SHARE and WHEEL consistently refuse to send "representatives" to meet
with the Mayor or any other group or agency.  We insist that any member
who wants to go to a meeting can attend, and no decisions will be made
until our weekly all-shelter meeting has a chance to discuss it.
Reporters occasionally quote someone as a "spokesperson" for SHARE or
WHEEL, but we ourselves refuse to have "spokespeople".  We have a whole
bunch of members, all equal.

So far it has seemed to me that that kind of equality is only possible
in small, local groups.  The larger and more complex a group gets, the
more the "corporate mentality" inevitably sets in.  People get
stratified, begin thinking heirarchically.  "Experts" start deciding
what's best for everyone else.  I've seen this happen to some very, very
well-meaning people.

Until we figure out a soul-condom that will prevent that corporate
infection, I put my faith in small local grassroots efforts networking
together to build political power from the bottom up -- like we are
building here.

My 3 cents worth, adjusted for inflation.

Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
"Never doubt that a small group of imperfect people can improve the
world--indeed they are the only ones who ever have." Not Margaret Mead