The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “homelessness

The Character to Overcome

Posted on October 21, 2017

A lot has been said, written, sung, painted and even preached on the subjects of poverty, mental illness, addictions and homelessness in London in these past few years. Over time our brains have been hijacked into placing each of these challenges into their own separate categories, when the reality is that thousands of our citizens in this city frequently move through them on a continual basis. Many remain mired in such conditions because not enough supports are there to help move them along, while others have been fortunate enough to acquire proper assistance to begin the process of building their lives. Like Melissa Sheehan, for example. At thirty years of age, she has endured more of her share of careening disappointments and setbacks and…

The Shelter of Each Other

Posted on March 3, 2016

THIS CONUNDRUM OF HOMELESSNESS IN CANADA has become an exquisitely painful exercise. Over a number of decades we watched from a distance as it first emerged in our larger cities, then became something of an embarrassment to civic, provincial, and federal leaders. It is a part of the Canadian landscape that we understand doesn’t match our worldwide appeal or our domestic ideals. At crucial moments during that journey (an excruciating trek for those who are actually homeless) the subtle compromise was reached that it was a problem that needed to be managed as opposed to solved – a subtle admission that the distance between our compassionate ideals and our desire for an affluent life was unbridgeable. For those living without a secure place for…

Poverty’s Great Unknown (2) – Hiding in Plain Sight

Posted on February 20, 2015

IN HER BOOK ALPHABET OF THORN, author Patricia McKillip has one of her chief characters ask another: “Do you become invisible?” In reply, the other character says, “No. I’m there, if you know how to look. I stand between the place you look at and the place you see – behind what you expect to see. If you expect to see me, you do.” This is the way it is with modern poverty; people suffer their deprivations in private, yet they are seen everywhere in every community. They are us, but we don’t really see them. In Canada, we most often can’t be bothered to look for poverty in our midst, but if we truly wanted to, we could spot it – everywhere. In yesterday’s…

Mayors: Poor Choices

Posted on October 16, 2014

IT’S ALL TOO COMMON FOR CITIES ENDURING DIFFICULT TIMES to resist getting serious about poverty. They place their emphasis on economics, jobs, education, or trade – those aspects that appear more like an investment than a drag on the community like, say, social programs. But mayors are getting smarter, though it has taken them decades to get around to it. They are comprehending that even a robust economic recovery can be derailed by all those human resources that were left out – unemployed, underemployed, those suffering in mental illness, students, or the homeless. Mayors are paying attention to considerable research showing that the drag on any local economy from sustained poverty could ultimately derail any meaningful recovery or more prosperous future. As a result, we…

Cities: Democracy’s Shadow Side

Posted on September 17, 2014

ONLY THREE MONTHS AGO, MOST OF US WERE TAKEN UP with the plight of over 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. The number of celebrities, politicians, and average citizens who used the hashtag #Bringbackourgirls numbered in the hundreds of thousands – the majority of whom lived in cities around the world. Today very few us know what happened to those abducted, in part because what had become something of a brief fad couldn’t really compete with some dedicated criminals and militants who simply outlasted the outcry. Just for clarity, here’s what we know now. The girls haven’t been returned, despite much talk and some action about securing them. Some sources now say their whereabouts is now totally unknown. And Boko Haram…

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