Have You Heard of Craigslist Joe?
Wednesday night, August 14, 2013, after a delicious Ethiopian dinner with a Minneapolis friend, the Lead Coordinator was treated to an interesting documentary entitled, “Craigslist Joe.” The film challenges our assumptions about America’s basic nature.
One December, Joe Garner decided to test the limits of American generosity. The prevailing idea is that we are a disconnected society, consumed by Internet-based social interaction. Garner challenged this concept by taking an “insane” belief in basic human kindness and began an inner journey with outer expression.
Can a compassionate human being live for one month completely through the generosity of the “community”?
Garner sat down with his closest family and friends and hashed out the parameters of the test. This included a new email address, a new cell phone, a laptop, the clothes on his back and absolutely no money. Nor could he use his normal network, built like everyone else through social media. Garner had to limit himself solely to Craigslist.
His Mother expressed faith in people’s basic generosity. She thought he would remain safe and be successful. After such a blessing, he started.
The first day was rough and almost shook his confidence, or so it looked. Garner started in the early afternoon and it took until evening before someone resonated enough with this vision to let him crash for the night.
Then, things became interesting. Using his social skills, he found himself volunteering for meals, providing conversation for road trips and participating in religious celebrations. He went from Los Angeles to New York and back to California. Along the way, he was given a lot of hugs and words of encouragement and was taken in by all races, creeds and faiths.
Of course, Garner’s experiences prove that American generosity is just as great as it always has been. The fact that it’s the 21st Century doesn’t change this. We remain in touch with our humanity.
The documentary struck a cord with the Lead Coordinator. The Walk for America’s Children (September 5 – October 16, 2013) is designed to inspire ordinary Americans to 1) become aware that child hunger exists in America and 2) there is something that ordinary Americans can do about it. What that specific “can do about it” is changes from city to city and region to region. Hence the need for organizers to help ordinary Americans construct the system that will work for them in the place where they live.
The Lead Coordinator is continuously having one build after another. He hears similar arguments like Garner did. And he agrees with Garner’s mother. The generosity of America is such that if given some direction, it can eradicate child hunger – overnight.
Are YOU brave enough to challenge your assumptions like Garner did?