Why aren't we funding this?
On my way into Baltimore today, I stopped at RoFo. It was a tad too early to eat chicken, but just the right time for iced coffee and a full tank. I juggled the things I needed to do today, along with the occasional bright idea, and a mix of negative-oh-my-god-when-will-I-be-successful thoughts. A man approached me. There's always a man approaching at RoFo.
He was a bit teary eyed, about 28 years old, and he looked exhausted. "Sir I don't want any money, I just need something to eat." I was in a hurry, so I offered him some of the peanuts I had in my car. There were 5 left. I just offered a man 5 peanuts. Immediately, I explained that I was just there briefly, and all I had on me was a few bucks. I gave it to him, and he said "God bless." Then something hit me. Something I ponder the solution to all the time.
We're in Baltimore. A city that prides itself on democratic legislation, and equality. A city that is starting to become a booming tech center on the east coast. A city full of promise. Yet this man, feels helpless. I called him over, and he introduced himself as Damon. He asked for water, all I had was a third-full bottle of deer park. I handed to him and he guzzled it down. I asked him where he is from, and he said, "under that bridge."
I felt distraught. I've had plenty of these conversations, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I explained how he's from here. Same as me. And we are in this together. Baltimore, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. Now I am NOT wealthy. In fact, I am still paying for my failures on a daily basis. Failure is learning, but failure is the opposite of funding. Remember that.
I blurted out, "there is an absurd amount of abandoned properties in Baltimore. Why can't the city just provide those as a temporary shelter?" Why do we allow these properties to just sit around in the hopes that another neo-hipster-uprising will bring a new edge to the depressed areas of the city? Why do we fund research that tells us the mathematical formula for winning rock-paper-scissors, but we cannot provide a quick, temporary solution to a real issue in this country? I am not suggesting that we refurbish these buildings and make them "livable". Free shouldn't be comfortable or cozy. Yet, we have all of these solutions sitting around our country, and we haven't come together to provide a real solution.
Baltimore, we are in this together. Regardless of background, race, or economic status. We all have our burdens, and we all have our opinions, but by god, this is something we should come together on. This is something I cannot get out of my mind today. Something I pray, we will fix in our lifetime. The last thing he said to me was, "Man, come say hello any time. I wish more people looked at it the way you do." Shit, me too Damon.
I usually feel down about my own plight as an entrepreneur. I get upset about the fact that we aren't providing enough programs for innovators and "people like me." It is natural to feel that way, to selfishly look at the world and think of how it could provide for you better, but this trumps any potential bankruptcy, eviction, or reposession. There are people out here suffering, who don't have a home to get evicted from, or a business that can fail. These are people who may have made bad decisions, but we all make the best decision we can given the circumstances. These are people who deserve our love. Because these are people. God Bless.