Breaking the cycle of homelessness: Cardboard signs occupy many street corners in the city of Spokane. Despite the plethora of homeless shelters in Spokane, there always seems to be scores of transients all over downtown. After growing up around this environment, I spoke with, worked with, and made friends with many people in this community. So what is causing homelessness? What is with the increase in cold bodies on the frost covered sidewalks? Some say lack of government funding is the reason. Others, not enough beds. But after asking many homeless folks for their experiences and perspectives, I've formed a conclusion that may throw some people; Spokane is too generous. I had the pleasure of being an employee at a thrift store for a couple years. This thrift store is a facet of a local homeless shelter and provides employment for people who are going through the recovery program at the shelter. Every night while closing the store, I would walk down the aisles and be in awe; every single item in this massive store was donated by the people of Spokane. The store averaged about $3,000 or more a day, and the back dock was almost always filled with donations. Spokane is a caring and giving community. I worked alongside many men and women who had been homeless before going to this mission, and they all told me the same thing; if someone had given them money on the street, they used it to fuel their addictions. More often than not, they would sacrifice the things they needed for a fix. Where the loving people of Spokane believed that they were helping someone get back on their feet, they really were enabling an addict to stay homeless and fall further into their prison of dependency. Imagine the impact that these resources could have if they were put in the right place. In a place that calls for change. Something more than just a warm bed for the night, but something that would turn the lives of the homeless around. Union Gospel Mission has a program that does this, but since it's a religious establishment, it does not receive any federal aide. If more shelters offered a similar program, it could change the culture of our city. The people need to want the change, which means sacrificing the comfort of feeding off of Spokane's generosity, and choosing to pick themselves up. The loving people of Spokane need not stop their generosity and care, but place it somewhere it will make an actual difference, and not perpetuate homelessness.

Zero to hero: Big cheers to the ZeroRez guy that cleaned my mom's carpets on Southeast Bouevard on December 20th. He saw that I was having a difficult time and he went the extra mile. Even surprising me with a wonderful Christmas gift! You restored my faith in the goodness in people. I hope your Christmas was extra special! I will pay your kindness forward.

Blue Christmas Cheer: Thanks to all who took the time and effort to put up Christmas lights and scenes. You made my "blue" Christmas a brighter!

Driving in Spokane: Here comes another jeer about Spokane drivers. Read carefully, though. It might not be about the ones you're thinking of. If slower traffic is keeping right, what should faster traffic do? (Hint: the words "move" and "left" are part of the answer.) Also, if you ask a cop, they'll tell you the speed limit still applies in the "fast" lane. So if we're all going the speed limit (or 5 mph over) we don't have to help you break the law by moving over. The solution to either of these problems is simple. Step 1: change lanes. Step 2: accelerate. Before you know it you'll be on your merry way faster than you can say "I really AM from Spokane, and I CAN go around." You'll also make the time to contemplate how much stress you just reduced in your own life without much effort.

Drive safely, leave for work early: You know who you are. The driver who thinks in icy, snowy road conditions they can leave late for work and then rush dangerously along the road while everyone else who wants to live is driving for the conditions. Be responsible and respectful of other people and their lives and your own by leaving home early, so you can drive slow, and be respectful of others who are driving slow. This isn't time to pretend you're James Bond. Please take your death wish and selfishness and change them into appreciation for yourself and others. So many drive recklessly, not good for these conditions. Please give others the gift of life by driving wisely and compassionately. Happy New Year.

Jeers on Me: Calling myself out and hoping you see this.. Early morning of 12-20 (maybe like 5 am) on the South Hill. I didn't make a hard enough stop at a stop sign, and that was on me as I thought you had a stop sign as well. But I don't think you did and we crossed hairs a little too closely. You had a bigger truck of some kind. Possibly company truck as it has a logo on it? I just got off work and I was pretty tired and I send my sincere apologies as I'm sure I pissed you off and started your morning off wrong! Hopefully the day went better than dealing with my dumbass.

Re: re: cows etc: To the person who wrote the jeers about cows etc., who obviously is very well educated and brilliant, did you really mean to compare humanity to a nice steaming pile of cow shit? That sounds so crass from someone so smart. In terms of offering someone else to take a big bite, feel free to begin yourself. You sound like you could use a nice helping of cow feces yourself. Perhaps you could show others the proper way to eat a pile of cow dung. Once you get half the pile properly swallowed and get your lips properly dried off, let others know how it tastes so they can make up their minds if they enjoy your referenced excrement pie. You're such a brilliant expert on humanity, I'm certain you'd be able to show the world how to properly eat crap. Enjoy it for your Xmas dinner. ♦

Wendy Franklund Miller: Persistence @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 18
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