Tampa has officially passed a ban on panhandling. This is not in all cases, but is in more than it should be a ban on public poverty.
The first person I thought of when I found out they passed the whole ban, is Richard. He is usually on the corner of Kennedy and Howard Ave. or sometimes Armenia and Kennedy – depending on the time of day. He has peace signs and smiley faces on his sign and he loves to chat. He camps in the woods somewhere and accepts pennies as gladly as he will accept a sandwich you offer him. He knew the ban was on its way and the last time I saw him (or he saw me – he comes over pretty quick when he sees my car because it’s pretty hard to miss) he just said that when they pass it he’ll have to hope that people will still be kind even if he can’t stand out there with a sign.
Yes, some people will take your money and buy booze.
Yes, some people will take your money and buy crack.
Yes, some people will take your money and not even thank you.
But some people recognize on a daily basis that their sustenance is dependent on the whims of people driving around burning money at a rate that people in other countries could live for years on.
So, Jon Dengler had this awesome idea. I saw him today while I was leaving a meetup with some students at The Hub. He asked if I wanted to write for a paper. I like writing, so I said yes. The panhandling ban has an exception of newspaper sales. So if you provide needy people with a paper they can sell, not only do they have a way of providing food for their bellies, but they aren’t even breaking the silly law that has been put in place to placate the masses that don’t want to have to look away or just say no when someone asks you for something.
I’d like to think of it as The Poor Post. Distributed and benefiting those who will inherit the kingdom because they are poor in spirit and rich in perspective and blessings.
They are treated as impostors, and yet are true
They are treated as unknown, and yet they are well known to the one whose acquaintance matters most
They are treated as dying and contagious, and yet, look at them! they live more honestly and more fully than most can comprehend
They are constantly punished, and yet their spirit cannot be killed
They are viewed as sorrowful, but constantly rejoice in the small things that most people gloss over
They are treated as poor and yet they contain the purest understanding of what is truly rich
They are viewed as having nothing, and yet, with God, they have the fullest blessings of the universe.
-2 Corinthians 6:8-10 (NCV – New Charlei Version)