“Maybe People Would Give a Damn if Taylor Swift Were Homeless.” Of all the signs created for last year’s annual Gustavus Sleepout, this was arguably the most photographed and discussed by passers-by. You decide why it was more provocative than a nearby sign informing readers that “63% of Homeless Mothers Have Experienced Severe Physical Assault By An Intimate Male Partner.”
This year, Partners for Affordable Housing, owners and operators of the Welcome Inn and Theresa House in Mankato, have asked participants in The Politics of Homelessness FTS to collect after-school treats for the children staying with them; paper products such as toilet paper, napkins and paper towels; personal hygiene products like shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste; or cleaning supplies for their shelters. There are 11 families staying in these two homes at any one time and demand for these products is constant. St. Peter does not have any shelters for people experiencing a temporary or long-term housing crisis.
The provocative and informative signs will still be hung from campus trees and lightpoles from Sunday night to Wednesday morning during the Gustavus Sleepout, and through them readers will learn who is at greatest risk of experiencing a housing crisis. But this year Sleepout participants will be carrying a cardboard box, donated by the BookMark, to collect any of the above items. Additionally, the BookMark has created 60 hygiene kits (30 for men, 30 for women) for purchase at the registers for a modest charge.
It is nearly impossible to imagine that from this point of her life forward Taylor Swift will ever experience homelessness. However, it is possible to imagine how amazingly giving members of the Gustavus can be to people in need, because they have demonstrated it time and again. Thank you in advance for giving what you can.
-Richard Leitch, Professor of Political Science, Japanese Studies, and Peace Studies