Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Last week a number of Canadian celebrities in Toronto including Brian Burke and Arlene Dickinson took part in a sleep-out on behalf of the shelter for street people called Covenant House. Each of these individuals was issued a piece of cardboard and a sleeping bag, then bunked down on the street for the night. Now, they were monitored and they were near Covenant House, and in the morning they headed home, bleary-eyed and ready for a shower. http://www.covenanthouse.ca/Public/Home.aspx
None of the participants claimed to know what it is like to be homeless or "sleeping rough" to use the British term. But it was a way to give visibility to the invisible, those we tend to avoid when walking downtown in Toronto and whose story we don't really want to know.
I have mentioned before a New York ad exec who started a campaign asking "how can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and walk past them the rest of the week." It is a probing, worthwhile question.
The celebrities raised $500,000 for Covenant House, which is good, and I admire them. Even one night would be uncomfortable and a little scary.
Are these stunts worthwhile, do you think? Do they raise awareness? Are we missing the bigger issues of how people get to the place of "sleeping rough?" What do think of the involvement of the United Church in inner city shelters? Look at the Observer article Cold Comfort. http://www.ucobserver.org/features/2012/11/cold_comfort/
Take a look at Groundling