Filed under: environmental issues, Food for Thought, san francisco, social issues | Tags: homelessness, park bench house, replate, Sean Godsell
v. (re-plate): To place unwanted leftovers, typically in a doggie bag, on top of the nearest trash can so they don’t go to waste.
Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve become much more aware of the homeless population in our cities across the nation. It’s disturbing how many people are sleeping on the street and digging through the trash for food. I read there’s something like 7,000 homeless people in SF alone. There are things we can do to help. Some are more controversial than others. One simple, very uncontroversial thing, is volunteering at your local shelter. You can help prepare or serve meals or donate time to fixing up the facilities. A great site that lists all the opportunities in the Bay area is www.handsonbayarea.org. I’m sure there’s something similar for wherever you live as well.
I’ve also heard of a new term called “replating”. Anytime you go out to eat and have leftovers, you get them to go and place the doggie bag on top of the nearest trash can. It’s good quality, easily accessible food, that people can access without being forced to dig for it. It also helps reduce the amount of waste that restaurants are producing. Check out http://www.replate.org/ for more info. This obviously applies to bigger cities and places where the homeless population is much larger. I can guarantee that here in SF the food won’t have a chance to get cold before someone snatches it up. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Maybe I just don’t like to admit that some people dig through the trash for their dinner. It seems degrading to encourage the activity, but the fact is: they’re hungry, they need food, I have food; and that’s the easiest, most sanitary way for me & you to get it to them quickly & efficiently. I’m not sure what other people’s thoughts are on the matter, but I think I’m all for it. I’ve started to make it a habit of mine.
I went to a lecture a few months back by an Australian architect named Sean Godsell (www.seangodsell.com). He has a similar approach to addressing the problem of homelessness. He believes that urban infrastructure should be built to provide for the homeless as opposed to running them off. The design for most bus stops & park benches in big cities includes being as uncomfortable as possible to discourage the homeless from sleeping or staying there. Mr. Godsell takes a completely different approach. His stance is that any humane city would provide for these individuals in any way they can, even if its with the most rudimentary shelter. Take his park bench house for example. It’s an average park bench by day, but the top can flip up at night to provide shelter from the elements. A small light is flipped on by the action of opening it to provide some sense of protection for the individual sleeping there and also to alert others that the bench is in use. He has similar ideas for bus shelters and new types of trash cans that seperate the food from the trash. It’s an interesting take on the issue. I’m curious what others think about it and what other things we can all do to help end homelessness.
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