Tomorrow night, in Ottawa Canada, at minus 2 degrees, families will gather in front of city hall and sound the night outside raising money and awareness for homeless people.
Getting serious, chronic issues on the political radar is tough these days. The media and the public chance after the latest scandals. Policy issues, especially those that lack a simple fix, get increasingly little attention.
Homelessness is one of these issues that is extremely important, has no empowered constituency, is difficult to truly understand and very complex to fix. As a result, it gets very little serious attention. And when it does get attention, it is usually from those who just want to get homeless people off of the streets and care little for why they got there and where they end up.
So… while I am not usually a fan of symbolic media gestures, my family and I will be sleeping out tomorrow night. Hopefully we will raise a little money – I doubt if it will be more than 10-20k. We will likely get a short lived media hit, but I am not optimistic it will have staying power. I guess what I really hope will happen is that by doing this with all of our children they will grow up wanting to understand why people are homeless and, asa result, they will care a little more, avoid the knee jerk reaction to simply wan them out of site and be willing too demand the political commitment and patience to put in place real solutions – they can’t do much worse than we have done.