So, now that I have committed to helping raise awareness on the upcoming CEO Sleepout (Sept. 27), I have asked people for some ideas about what activities should happen with the event.
While the answers I received varied, I have summarized them into this list.
-- They should try sleeping on the street with no sleeping bag, no food, water, or money.
-- Going to soup kitchens (like Salvation Army, etc.).
-- Have BIZ people moving them every hour or so to a different location.
-- Do not have any food available.
-- Panhandling as an activity.
-- Applying for jobs as a homeless person to get reactions.
-- Experience bullying or discriminatory remarks towards them (being ignored, given strange looks).
-- They should have no media, security guards around them.
-- Giving them tasks to complete -- such as trying to find a sleeping bag with no money, or a jacket, etc.
-- No bathroom.
-- Dress poorly, unclean appearance, as in do not shower for one week prior.
Overall, the tone seemed to be of a punitive nature, and there were many more comments that were not represented.
Criticisms of the CEO Sleepover
-- They only make a difference to a small number of people.
-- There is no lasting commitment. Without that it guarantees that all the challenges discussed will stay in place.
-- Too short: we should increase the activity for a longer time (a week, a weekend).
-- There is no way to simulate homelessness. No matter how hard the event, their situation is temporary and they will eventually be able to go home to their hot meal and comfortable lives
-- It is a larger issue than just homelessness. Many key systems have become ineffective (especially mental-health supports) which ensures individuals remain homeless.
SOME people thought we should do something differently with the CEO Sleepout and also suggested a few possible events and activities that may be taken into consideration in the future.
-- Stage a reverse CEO Sleepout where homeless people spend a day in the lives of the CEOs.
-- Pair up with a homeless person and live their life. See through their eyes and listen to their stories.
-- Get out there as individuals instead of staying together as a group.
-- This challenge should also be done by everyday people; just maybe if some of them experienced what it's like they would be less judgmental.
IN addition to activities, people had several statements they wanted to make that couldn't be summarized in a list.
-- Homeless communities experience a great level of discrimination and bullying by the public on a daily basis.
-- A night of camping out. Feeling safe. Knowing where they are going to camp out. I really wonder if it does make them think about the situation of the homeless?
-- What I think a lot of us would like them to do is join in with community members' calls for economic justice, generally. Raise the welfare rates, build new social housing, universal child care, etc. By and large they choose not to advocate for these things in any meaningful way (and often do the opposite).
-- I don't want some of the groups that get money from the Sleepout to not get money -- I just don't want the fact they do these Band-Aid events to make the CEOs feel like they're off the hook (which, I'm sorry, is generally what they think it gets them).
-- We should focus our efforts on affordable public housing over condos.
I am still open to suggestions and feedback about this initiative. Any of the suggestions I receive will be forwarded to the organizers of the event!
Follow this blog (and see the original postings of ideas and criticisms of the CEO Sleepover) at northendmc.wordpress.com