I’m not a journalist and neither is John Curley. But it is an actual fact that I can report that John Curley pretended to support a stupid idea to put all of Seattle’s homeless people on an island in the San Juans or thereabouts. John Curley explains that the schtick on the Tom and Curley radio show consists of him supporting stupid ideas and of co-host Tom Tangney “poo-pooing” all over said ideas.
I can totally relate, because that’s pretty much the rule here at Adventures in Irony, except that there’s just one of me, so Stupid and I’m With Stupid are identical. That, and there have to be fewer fecal references, because I’m also the janitor.
Anyway, let’s talk stupid ideas relating to homelessness. Again!
I’ll get to the island idea later. First I want to throw out something I’ve personally thought up that I think is a great idea for winning over NIMBYs.
You know about NIMBYs. These are Not In My Back Yard people, who complain among other things about all the poor homeless people living in tents everywhere you look these days. That’s what’s behind the island idea, of course, making NIMBYs happy by getting those tents out of sight, across the water.
I’ve been trying to think up other ways to make NIMBYs’ lives better, and I believe one excellent solution is tasteful tent colors.
I know it just sounds cosmetic, but isn’t it a fact that if you own a house in Laurelhurst, you can’t just paint the whole thing fuchsia or sun yellow or sky blue and not have the neighbors furious at you? In some places you may have even signed a housing agreement forbidding such behavior.
So how do you feel when the rabble move in down the street in their fuchsia, sun yellow or et cetera, tents? You probably feel angry and cheated. They get to do something you can’t do.
So my proposal is that all homeless people have to sleep in tents that are non-garish. Drab, but tasteful. Instead of sending crews out to eradicate tents, crews will be equipped with cans of spray paint that will paint the tents brick red, adobe white, or muted robin’s egg blue. They would be non-toxic of course, for the health and safety of all concerned.
Getting back to the San Juan island idea. It seems to me that once you accept the idea that good social reform can be accomplished by moving people from place to place, you open up potential approaches that you may never have considered before. Like, why just move the homeless people and no one else?
The San Juans are a ways away. Why don’t we put them all somewhere closer, like, oh, I don’t know, Mercer Island? What’s that, there are people already living on Mercer Island? No problem! Put them in SoDo! They’ll be close to a freeway and an airport. They’ll have shopping within an easy drive. It will be very humane.
The transplants, as we might call them, might have to live in drab but tastefully colored tents for a while until we line up housing for them, but I’m sure the city can arrange for portable toilets and garbage collection at least on a temporary basis, for such important transplants.
How about the encampment sweeps? There’s an idea that involves transplanting. You have a person, homeless, living in a tent, because they don’t have any place else to live, and you “solve” the problem of them doing that by taking the tent to the dump. So now they have to find a new place to live, without a tent, and hopefully all will be well.
We should try that more broadly. I wouldn’t suggest doing it to just anybody right away, until we tried it out on a small segment of the population. I have in mind the mayor and his staff. We give them three days notice, then lock them out of their homes. Bulldoze the houses. See how that works out for them. If they hit the street running it’s safe to do it to anyone, and maybe we won’t have to move Mercer Islanders to SoDo, they’ll just make their own way, because they are so clever and resourceful.