[In regard to Asheville’s homeless population]: Whatever the reason for your situation, your fellow Asheville residents see you and consider you. We often don’t know what to think, though. It may not matter, but sometimes we share; we also want to know that your situation is not permanent and that there is more of you than what we see. When you stand at an exit waiting for handouts, begging for handouts with your cardboard sign, what do you think about? What is your plan? What do you have to offer? Would you be willing to trade for what you beg?
Do you have poems, songs to share? Can you create a clover crown or bracelet while you wait on the ramp so that you may trade your work for money? Do you keep your spaces tidy and litter-free? Have you gathered ribbons and feathers to make something special? Do you draw well — are you willing to share your drawing? Do you need books; will you share your thoughts on what you have read? Can you dance and make us laugh? Do you laugh? Will you recite your favorite lines for us? We want to lift you — do you want to be lifted? We could use some uplift — can you lift us? People love to buy things, ideas, entertainment. We would more freely give if you “sold” us something.
We realize you are not for show, but you can share, can’t you? You struggle and remain here in Asheville. What do you do? Why do you do it? Do you want to be a part of the system? Do you reject the system but ultimately still depend on it? Do you have your own system? Don’t you have any imagination? Are you ready for something else? Or are you content?
Pity is sadness for one’s misfortune and keeps you in the past, but an exchange in goods and sharing of resources moves you forward. You are a part of Asheville. We want to embrace and lift you, but you must want to be lifted and embraced. We can rise together. We can be better. You can be better. This is Asheville, after all. What have you got?
This paper is freely distributed, so share it with your cohorts and do something different.
— Melissa Nicholson