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Solving Society



While I do wish I could solve every social-design issue, it is no where near possible. The one problem that is always tugging at my heart though, is that of homelessness. It is a problem that is faced all over the world, but we can address it so easily in our own backyards. Every city in America has thousands of people who are homeless and this is a problem that we can solve with a lot of time and patience. I've only really had experiences with homelessness in Chicago, so for this blog prompt I will pretend that those all took place in Minneapolis.

Walking down the streets of downtown Minneapolis, one is bound to encounter someone sitting on a milk crate holding a message written on a piece of cardboard. They will probably have puppy dog eyes and a weathered smile. Do you give them money? What are they going to with it? More importantly, why are they here in the first place? Are they a war veteran? drug addict? high school drop-out? ex-convict? Are they simply to lazy to find a job? I would love to spend a day asking homeless people for their story, and I'm sure I would get some fascinating responses. It doesn't matter what they may have done to get themselves there, whats matters is that they are our brothers and sisters and we have the ability to help them.

It is here that i begin to think of the old saying, "if you give a man a fish he can eat for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, he will eat for a lifetime." This is where my idea for a social-design issue comes from. We need to create a program that takes people off the streets and equips them with job skills and enables them to get back on their feet. Whether its the simple skills of cooking in a restaurant or documenting papers in an office, there are plenty of people who are capable of helping. I would be willing to bet my life that if given the chance to start their lives over, most homeless people would grasp the opportunity and seize the day with it.

When doing my research for the blog prompt, I was happy to come across a plan called "Heading Home Hennepin" that plans to rid Hennepin County of homelessness by the year 2016. The plan is headed up by business and civic leaders, volunteers, as well as people who used to be homeless. The plan had six steps that I believe are fully achievable:
(1)PREVENTION Ensure that no one in our community becomes homeless
(2)OUTREACH Reach out to those who are homeless
(3)HOUSING Housing for all individuals and families that need it
(4)IMPROVE SERVICE DELIVERY The right services to the right people
(5)BUILD SELF SUPPORT Ensure that people have the resources to remain housed
(6)SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS Systems currently in place work as efficiently as possible

Kudos to Hennepin County!