What should I be doing instead of this?
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Homeless, Empowered, Married

By Joe Wessels · June 10th, 2009 · Wessels

Though I’ve technically never been homeless, I realize that like so many people I’m really just a paycheck or two or a major illness or some unforeseen catastrophe from being in some serious financial ut-oh.

Giving up sometimes seems like a great idea. Or getting a simpler job. Or no job and no responsibilities. You know, being homeless.

Not that I would ever do it. It’s not really in my nature.

I’m blessed without the burdens that afflict so many of our homeless citizens — mental illness and chemical addictions — plus I have a strong family with enough financial security to keep us afloat no matter what arises.

I don’t like finding excuses for these folks. I’m not into feeling sorry. Living in Over-the-Rhine, I’ve had enough conversations with the “chronically homeless” to know that it’s more acute than chronic. Many like living the way they do.

Tom Banks, an Over-the-Rhine character, made a point to me recently.

“When homeless people die, we have no way of letting each other know,” he said.

Streetvibes, the newspaper written by and about the homeless in Cincinnati — I sit on their advisory board — runs death notices. But that publication is monthly, and those notices can run weeks or even months after the deaths.

Banks wondered why The Cincinnati Enquirer, the only local daily newspaper left (for now), wouldn’t run death notices for people who couldn’t afford to pay the hefty fees associated with the last bastion of a once-powerful classified advertising market.

I couldn’t give him a good answer but promised I’d raise the subject here.

He reminded me of one of his buddies who died on the street a few years ago. I didn’t find out until the day after the man’s funeral, performed free at the First Lutheran Church across from Washington Park.

* * * * *

Running down to City Hall and beating on some one’s door isn’t the best way to get something done in this city. Try making the change yourself or organizing a group of people to make change.

No need to work within the power structure. Focus instead on your own willingness to make change and your ability to lead and inspire others, and don’t ask for permission.

I’ve often observed local visionaries sitting around a table when the talk turns to who knows which Cincinnati City Council member and how could they get the mayor to pay attention to them. The conversation always came down to connections.

Here’s a shocker: Elected officials are horrible at getting things done. But they can stop anything simply by raising their hand.

I’m not saying politicians don’t accomplish anything — they do. But it’s worth trying to better your community yourself without them. If you run into trouble, then think about contacting an elected official (or a news reporter).

* * * * *

Getting married? Wanna do it for free? Well, this weekend you can, and I’ll be your officiant.

I’m a licensed, ordained minister in the state of Ohio, and this weekend I’m offering to marry couples for free at my self-storage facility in Ross. All you have to do is register on facility’s Web site (www.rossselfstorage.com) and show up between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at 2354 Venice Blvd. in Ross.

Have your marriage license with you, I’ll perform the ceremony and you’ll be married. We’ll also have a flea market, free food, free drinks and a free flag for the first 100 guests (it’s Flag Day, after all).

Here’s an extra bonus: Get married, and you receive a month’s free storage unit rental when you pay for your second month. There also will be a notary, so if you have a document you need notarized we can take care of that, too.

Oh, and wondering how the future looks with that new spouse? Ask the tarot card reader. She’ll be there, too.

CONTACT JOE WESSELS: joe@joewessels.net



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