Well, Street Art wasn't quite what we expected it to be today. After over an hour of yarn bombing, a lady cop pulled up and told us we had to stop. "This is private property," she said. Now, don't mind us, but we were a small portion of her worries. There were, quite literally, at least twenty trash bags and many people sitting on this property.
We were making an old, mostly dead tree beautiful (see said tree above). But we had to stop. The cop told us, "Everyone must follow guidelines. These people here [read: the homeless] don't want to follow guidelines. Even I have to follow guidelines ... got to pay my mortgage on time ... There are rules to follow." She was making the point that soon the cops will stop permitting anyone -- us or the homeless -- to sit or do anything on private property.
So I asked, "Where will people go when you start kicking people off of the private property down here?" (The private property is pretty much all of the property in our South Dallas neighborhood.)
She responded, "They can go to the shelters."
I pointed out, "The shelters close during the day."
She had an answer for that: "Not The Bridge. The Bridge has an open area where people can stay all day." She continued, "We (the cops) try to help them (the homeless), but they don't want help."
As Rachel and I walked away, our work half finished, I couldn't help but feel a little humiliated, kind of how I used to feel when I got in trouble in class. The lady cop's parting words to me were, "Do it the right way." What she meant is that we need to get official permission from the man who owns the property to do stuff on it. Which I get. I really do.
But the type of enforcement to which she refers, if actually enforced, is an effective shutting down of the neighborhood. Austin Street sends everyone out at 6 a.m. Women must be back in line at 1 p.m. They have little time to get any where or do any thing if they want a bed. So people hang out by the shelter. It is their lifeline. Where will people go? To The Bridge? How will The Bridge hold everyone? How will the many physically disabled make their way there? Who can afford a bus pass at $5 a day or $80 a month? Few. So they will walk every day -- the 1.3 miles and 26-minute walk -- if one is able-bodied?
Today, I felt as though I got a tiny taste of how my friends on the streets are treated day in and day out. Less like a person and more like an object of rules, or "guidelines." Don't break the rules.
Through Street Art, we wanted and still plan to accentuate the beauty the neighborhood already has, figuratively giving dead things new life. Like this old tree. Yarn bombing: a work of redemption. So many people stopped today, asking ... What are you doing, wrapping a tree with yarn?
We are making it beautiful.
Just like Jesus does with us. He takes what's dead in us and infuses life. Just like Jesus loves to do with all people, people who have lovely, fancy homes and people who call home the sidewalk.
To the lady cop, I quote Ben Rector, and I say:
"Please, let us make something beautiful, a thing that reminds us there's good in the world ..."