Charity or ‘Teach a (person) to fish’ (sic)

Charity or ‘Teach a (person) to fish’ (sic)

When you look at a problem and all you do is count heads (run statistics vs demographics), you don’t see the whole story.

People who deal with the poor face to face know they aren’t robots who come with their hands out, looking for a meal or bed for the night. Same as people who have eating disorders or addictions come in different sizes and shapes. People with food intolerances have different health issues, some can handle a few crumbs but not a whole meal of it, and some would die if you even cooked the thing in the kitchen they were in.

So it bothers me when someone looks at a poverty issue and either blames the people, or figures one solution will fit all.

It makes me wonder if they have even lived rough, ever used the system, or even looked around to see what’s out there, besides charity.

Just looking around a city or town and it’s zoning will tell you how they see the people they claim to serve. Which is more common? Fast food or grocers? Community services or religious sites? Gas stations or green spaces? What is the crime rate like, can people go to the park or beach for a walk safely? Are the schools adjustable to the community’s needs?

The difference between setting up a community kitchen/garden or a food bank is tremendous. The members have more autonomy and can participate in what they need vs taking what they get.

Instead of having separate religious sites, what about having a community centre so they can work together on common issues and ideals? And learn to get along. Understand each other.

Instead of row houses and tenements, what about bldg something they can take pride in? And want to care for? Instead of putting people into rabbit warrens, what about creating spaces that promote healthy living and positive interactions? That allow for leisure and learning rather than robots going from job to job. As fast as they can.

But it’s probably hard for people who have silver spoons in their mouth and live in ivory towers to look at urban planning in a way that meets the needs of the actual people who have to live there in peace, and try to prosper in it.

This is the part of coursework that looks at politics and economics that really annoys me. Too often I catch them bean-counting and get angry. City growth isn’t all about investment in the concrete after all. People should be able to live comfortably in their communities. Or what you get is crime and escalating poverty. Not quality of life.

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