Mary H. Hall: Let’s learn more about those with whom we share streets
To the editor:
Some recent letters on the removal of Northampton benches suggested that if people don’t like facing panhandlers in downtown Northampton, they can go shop in a mall. These writers could suffer adverse effects if visitors to the city should, instead, opt for a securitized environment in which to shop and dine.
Yes, we know the economy is not working for people, and a capitalist way to make out without a job is to embark on begging for a living. A good place might be Northampton, a community where disposable income exists, and where supplies of outrage at societal inequities are abundant.
Making the problem of visible poverty go away by denying people a place to sit down does not address their lack of means; meanwhile, a little city with a big heart is not going to fix the problems of poverty and societal alienation on its own.
I would think this community could begin an inquiry that would include learning who are these people hanging out, where they come from and asking what their needs are.
The book “Toxic Charity” might be a resource to consider in seeking how to address the degradation of being poor in our society. One would think people could generate many ideas and insights.
Mary H. Hall