As most of you know (if you know me at all), I live right downtown next to the Shepherds of Good Hope, and there is a lot of "stuff" going on in my neighbourhood, not to mention on my steps, especially after midnight. When the weather's nice, there's more people "sleeping" outside and hanging around on the streets. I have noticed more crack lately and fewer needles and I've seen newer women on the corners who look in rougher shape than the regulars of the past few years and I got to wondering more about crack addiction.
Megan's blog has discussed the recent decision to stop giving out free crack pipes and I'm not sure what it all means, but the issue is becoming hot here in Ottawa.
From what I understand, crack addiction is one of the worst and recovery is difficult and people's reality is so different. I figured I'd like to offer meditation classes to that group, not so that they could recover or get off drugs or whatever, but just because meditation can be good for people in general. I spoke to someone in my yoga classes who works there and she got me a spot and starting on Monday, once a week I'll volunteer at the Shepherds, offering meditation.
As someone who literally has this going on in my back yard, the idea of spreading the services out across the city is an appealing one at first glance. When funding for mental illness programs was cut some years ago, many people were put out on the streets who really need support for living. Having a high concentration of services in one area of town has led to a trail from the Mission to the Shepherds, with stops on the way, and people just hanging out on other people's porches and stuff. I'm not clear on all of the issues associated with this, but I do know that it's a problem, and it seems to be getting worse.
When I start getting judgemental and opinionated about stuff, I try and take a closer look, get interested. So I thought I'd bring myself in greater contact with this marginalized population, rather than shut myself inside and wait for the "authorities" to do something to make me feel better.