Au revoir, my friend.
About a third of the people in tent city had jobs but couldn't afford Charleston rents. About another third had some sort of income or housing vouchers but couldn't find places to rent. The problem of "homelessness" is in large part a problem of safe, secure affordable housing near where people work. Business owners on the peninsula and in Mt.P are constantly facing the problem of finding people who can find reliable transportation to get to their companies because people in the service industry can't afford to live where the service industry jobs are. The trend is not good for either businesses or employees.
My solution is to create an official safe, secure and sanitary tent city to house our lowest wage workers, somewhere within walking distance of downtown. Include rules of behavior, storage, mailboxes, bathrooms, showers and shared cooking spaces, all for a reasonable low monthly rent. Perhaps gradually expand the area to include tiny houses. Instead of insisting everyone live in "standard" housing, recognize that some people would prefer to save more of their meager earnings instead of spending them on rent and never be able to get ahead. Without savings, we're all just slaves.
If we think the next mayor will be in office for less than a decade, these answers are adequate. We'll probably have an ocean rise of less than two feet in that time so an improvement of current measures will probably appease most citizens most of the time. But with an expected ocean rise of ten feet by 2065, the next few mayors will have to come up with something a lot better than these answers. In the longer term, with the most likely scenarios pointing toward a hundred foot sea rise by 2200, Charleston will have to be abandoned. I wouldn't want to be the mayoral candidate to make that unpopular call.
I've been involved in the Black Lives Matter Charleston group since it's formation last year. We are a very diverse group of people - all genders, all colors, all ages, all experiences, and many different ideas about how to bring about a more egalitarian society. Of course, we never expected to have the nation's attention focused on a sad incident in our community.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with that frustration you feel when you absolutely know something is true, but you can't get other people to recognize the truth. Fights break out because someone knows Chevy is better than Ford, or the Red Sox are better than the Yankees (they are), or that unarmed black men are being killed by police more than twice a week in America.
Especially among our younger members, that frustration leads toward a desire to wake Americans up from their complacency and MAKE them care. The question is, how do you get comfortable Americans to notice the discomfort of other Americans?
Disruptive protests are one attempt. Yes, they certainly do piss-off people trying to go about their daily lives. But they also keep the discussion alive if for no reason other than our news media thrives on conflict and little else. If television stories and Facebook posts are any indication of effectiveness, disruptive protests ARE effective. I'm guessing the average white American was pretty pissed-off about MLKJ's actions fifty years ago too.
Personally I question the effectiveness of disruptive protests at breaking a majority of complacent Americans out of their complacency to come join us. In MLKJ's time, it took the murders of people similar to the white majority to get the majority out of their complacency. I hope we don't have to go that far this time. I hope we can come up with an action that makes comfortable people eating hamburgers on the couch in front of the evening news, say "that's impressive what those people are doing. They're right. We can be better than this and I want to be a part of what they're doing."
If you have any ideas that could make that happen, I'm all ears.
Thanks for the pick, Paul and the rest of the staff.
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