Letter: Buskers over panhandlers
Transitioning panhandling into the more friendly mix use of busking I believe is something that should organize itself around the buskers and (yes) panhandlers themselves. With the ACLU action recently in Colorado Springs, passive panhandling is something you cannot sweep off streets. And, yes, we do have some broken-down older street people for whom flying a sign is about the only job they can hold down. We shouldn’t condemn them to doing nothing to meet their meager means of keeping them productively out of system. Understand it’s a form of employment. I know firsthand the motivations of seeking to sell oneself as an object to pity.
Some of those who do it see it as quick, easy cash. Needs are on the level of cash in hand, and this isn’t always drugs or alcohol. Some simply feel begging from individuals is more dignified than begging from institutions. The majority of people on the street are Republicans having conservative values often at odds with institutional forms of help. Reclaiming such spaces for a more tourist-friendly atmosphere needs to acknowledge this. Figure out how to utilize limited space for sign-fliers in most need.
One way to go about this is do a pilot program during next summer.
First make a list (through art center, chamber of commerce, downtown business etc.) of interested buskers. There is a lot of talent in this valley. Eventually we could work in daytime sets to preview bands playing Summer of Music, or atop Iron Mountain and other local establishments. Anyway, get to together and determine administrative cost and seek funding by crowd sourcing. This is the type of arts/community project Kickstarter loves. Then let the buskers themselves manage and feel their way through a summer season and next off season refine things.
Performers tend to be very open and community-oriented, so those out there will be in the best position work in panhandling possibilities around more tourist-friendly entertainment. Because again it isn’t an issue we can sweep under the rug. But we can make of it a better experience for all.
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