Creative Outreach to Unsuspecting, Saturday Eve
Thought i’d share the following adventure by a contributor to this blog. It’s pretty inspiring what he did.
Basically, he walked about 4 or 5 miles around Portland proper, downtown, and then into the SE up Hawthorne, sending out unexpected humanity with various folks he came upon. Wearing a large bright green blanket around his torso (at an angle, looking a bit like some sort of informal authority, perhaps), he distinguished himself from the crowd of deadeningly colored citizens in a curious sensation of a way.
Most memorable interactions included at the Hawthorne Safeway, where, as he arrived, a street man was cussing angrily at the store’s security staff who were ushering him forcefully off the property. Our correspondent enquired of the staff, having been right there, and wondering what exactly had been the trouble. Our correspondent then learned how these security staff are apparently trained to think: like so many other security professionals: in a very alienated way.
“Once I heard the security folks’ version of the story, including the guy feigning a punch at the security professional, my intuition told me that the guy kicked off the property was angry at institutional-type people in general, so while I listened to the input of one security officer (that the guy wouldn’t be approachable at all), I sought to hear the other side. And approached him (while staying some distance away), asking if there was something I could get him,” said our correspondent. “He said he wanted a bottle of V8 juice, and that he was waiting for two friends still in the store.”
“I was unsure if I’d be able to talk with this angry guy, whom had settled down by then, tho was engaged in staring down the security people, whom in turn were staring him down. But I think my informal approach made a difference. I also told him that the security pros had called the cops.”
Well, our correspondent went into the store, got the item, and spoke with a few other folks about a vision he had that might act as a kind of buffer for angry folks coming through there. “I gave them this idea even though I know that they usually cannot make such decisions; only their corporate office hierarchy can. But they were ready to listen (including one apparent Transexual employee whom was especially thoughtful in relating the situation).
“I basically thought it would make a lot of sense to reward neighborly-type transients with some sort of set-up for them to stay at at least once in awhile, and then create some kind of buffer person who can act as a kind of go-between. Maybe a tad bit unrealistic, but I think they appreciated the reasonable input.”
The evening was spent basically doing this kind of informal outreach consciousness with various folks who appeared down-on-their luck.
“I also got some of my prayers answered,” said our correspondent, whom is oriented to his own spirituality, not organized religion. “Not only did I seem to touch folks’ hearts in a way they didn’t expect, and seemed happy to experience, but a free box that caught my attention turned out to have several items that i had privately wanted to experience.” Amongst the find were two Eastern/Asian meditation balls which, when shook, make little metallic bell sounds. “Those things are really neat, and I think they might come in handy for [doing a non-sequitor on] someone who is hell-bent on pursuing a severely alienated habit (i.e. those whom have recently gotten out of jail).
Notably, our correspondent is no “spring chicken” in this stuff. He has crucially interacted with off-balance folks for many years, all over the country. “One never knows for sure if one can reach everyone’s heart in at least some small way, but for me, it’s a spiritual thing. I look into some folks’ eyes and they are sometimes icey cold in defensive mode–maybe even waiting for an excuse to attack–but it’s like looking into the eyes of a non-human animal [like a dog or a cat]; there’s an intuitive relating, a gut feeling that folks on the street share with each other, and if your eyes are ‘read’ to be ‘without a heavy agenda’ you can sometimes either ‘touch’ folks’ hearts, or at least avoid violence.”
Most folks of course would call this type of interaction “dangerous” and would prefer to call the men of force (cops, psychiatrists) to allegedly “solve” difficulties with people severely off-balance. But our correspondent says that most of these people have experienced some very heavy bureaucracy or bureaucratic mind-set of some sort, and REALLY could use a healthy dose of empathetic humanity!
“If we can systematically lay a foundation of mutual respect with folks whom have been treated without such, we will see our neighborhoods and our communities flourish that much more! But you gotta dare to take the step away from how we’ve been conditioned, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”