Sunday, 9 August 2009

'Community', Homelessness and the Castro

So I took a little bit of time out from the conference today and headed out to the Castro. I discovered (after waiting a while at a MUNI stop like an idiot - along with many others), that the F-line route was temporarily out this morning so I walked out to the Castro which was good (and let's be honest, much needed) exercise. I had a nice stroll around, checked out a few sites ready for the next field trip, bought some books from the book store there (one of which will help form the basis of a paper I plan to present next April in Bristol -on Queer Legal Theory/'Slutdom'), and ended my little tour with a beer at Cafe Flore and watched the world go by. Whilst there, my ears were flapping in their usual listening station like way and I overheard a group talking about homelessness.

Anyone whose visited SF will be stunned at the poverty and failure of any safety net that is on display in the Tenderloin. This group of folks talked about the homeless in the Castro and one of the group had spent time talking to various homeless guys. They'd told him about the lack of shower facilities - a basic aspect which led to people instantly developing a negative impression of he homeless because of how they look/smell. Apparently there had been a scheme that allowed the homeless to use showers in schools when the schools were shut but parents had objected. Anyway, this group of people said something had to be done.

Yea, we've all had those discussions. They went further and talked about planning their group, what to call it, how it would operate, remit etc. They were sorting it. It was a community response. How often does the same happen in Newcastle or Manchester? Sure, it happens amongst those paid to care, but what about the wider 'community'?

More generally, there was some interesting social justice stuff today that is still being processed by my brain. Off out for some fun tonight and then the last day of the conference tomorrow. Once it's over, I might then return to the Castro to pick up a queer theory book I can't get in he UK and maybe head to Ocean Beach to say a sad farewell. Then it's Monday, time to pack and a journey that results in me landing Tuesday afternoon in the UK (and left confused as to what day it is).

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