Written by Elissa Romines
I have this thing in the alley behind my house. It's big-- almost four feet tall & nearly three feet wide. It's gray and plastic and has a lid. Oh and it's on wheels! You guessed it. It's a trash can! You have one as well, yes? Once a week this magical thing happens where a large truck shows up, a few nice gentlemen empty my trash can and recycling bin, & we all go on with our lives.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if those nice gentlemen never showed up. Or, even worse, if that trash can disappeared completely.
Luckily, we go to a tent city (there are multiple) 2-3 days out of the week, so I don't have to wonder. I know exactly what would happen if there was no place for my trash & no one took it away.
Next Friday, June 24, we are teaming up with a few friends from CitySquare & a few friends who live in tents to clean up the piles and piles of trash that have accumulated. We'll have trash bags, gloves, & hand sanitizer. And, of course, no trash pick-up would be complete without ice-cold lemonade, tea, and water.
But wait. There's more!
Remember the nice gentlemen who drive a big truck through the alley & take away my trash?
Well, this trash-pick up comes with gentlemen, too! This summer, we have seven strapping young men, the "Dallas Fellows," interning with us on Fridays. Here they are, first time in a tent city:
Their first questions: 1) Where do people use the restroom & 2) Does anyone take away the trash? You may have those same questions, and they are very valid, indeed.
Before the original Tent City was shut down, the City of Dallas stationed a couple of porta potties & a couple of dumpsters under the bridge because, as you may know, a human without a proper home is still a human. However, humans in proper homes thought porta potties and dumpsters made life in Tent City a little too luxurious. People might prefer the porta potty over indoor plumbing & never leave.
Well, these seven gentlemen saw the reality right away: The trash, the toxic living environment does very little in terms of motivation. In fact, it serves as a confirmation that life is indeed as hopeless as it seems, and any attempts to move forward, seek help, or be proactive would simply be useless. The more hopeless it feels, the less motivation to get out.
More good is needed there, not less.
That's why cleaning up the area-- together-- is so incredibly important. It speaks goodness over people. It tells them we have not forgotten their humanity. It is a hint of life which summons those near to go and find more.
And so, we want to invite you to join us and our friends from CitySquare next Friday morning as we -- and the community who lives there -- pick up the trash together.
WHEN: Friday, June 24
WHERE: Meet at 1610 S. Malcolm X Blvd. at 9 a.m.
We will carpool to the homeless encampment.
Let us know if you plan to come: firstname.lastname@example.org.