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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The battle for the steps has been engaged again


4/17
A hard start to the day. Kristen and Kris(ten) from Project Reachout have come to do an intervention with Antonia and Wesley. Teddy is along for muscle. We meet in our office to plan the strategy. The two K’s are recommending actually closing down the steps. If you eliminate options, people more willing to accept services. Antonia and Wesley actually forced BJ to go that route. They say that Holy Name and even Fifth Avenue Presbyterian have too. Fifth Avenue was the church that went to court against the city to retain the right for people to stay on their steps, a fight that we supported and gained from. It’s also hard to ban some people from your steps unless you ban all people. We are agreed that we have to tell them that they must move on. 
When we get out there, the trio from yesterday is back, the hostile man spread out over three steps, actually looking passed out. K and K have never seen them before. We decide to speak to them first. The woman says they have another space they usually stay. (The sullen man has gotten up and left, wanting no part of this conversation.) K and K will alert the Reachout team for that neighborhood. The woman agrees to consider services.
Wesley and Antonia are watching all this, wary. I begin the conversation by telling them it’s not working, they’ll have to move on. Wesley says they’ve had one appointment Tuesday and another scheduled for Thursday. Antonia seems open at first then retreats when one of the K’s approaches her. Wesley’s packing their many bags. he waves his arms in frustration. Says its all about her panic attacks. That’s what keeps them on the street. The bottom line is they’ve got to go. Alright, alright, he says, we’ll go somewhere else. 
Anna and Puppy  have been observing this from a safe distance. 

Back inside, we talk again. How will we enforce what we just agreed to? It’s not clear. We’ll see what happens. We’ll stay in touch. 
These are hard questions. It really adds up to having to split up Antonia and Wesley. For her own good.  Teddy says Wesley’s concern for Antonia’s panic attacks is self-serving bull shit. I’m not sure. Well, yes, part of it is. He’s a long time street person, a hustler, a player. On the one hand she’s manipuated and coerced into her realtionship with him and on the other its codependent. And at some other level, part of him truly cares for her. Nothing ever back and white. Take it from the street to the coop, similar dynamics play out, albet more nuanced. 
To save one, a couple has to be  broken up. In all honesty a similar reality may come to our OWS coop when it has to break up with no effective  plan for continuation. Seems to be heading there. Clearly some couples may have to break up so that one might make it. And honestly, it’s the story out there in the world. Only there sometomes someone splits to save themselves.  Wish it weren’t so. But it is.
So what is my responsibilty? What is my call? Feel like the battle for the steps has been engagred again.  
the community garden on 89th
Steve comes in to take care of some business. It's early and already I feel done. I'm going to get a cup of coffee. Go sit in the community garden at 89th awhile. So many different kinds of tulips. 

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