Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and, more recently, Blink, published a provocative essay in this issue, "Million Dollar Murray."
Gladwell argues that with many, if not most, seemingly intractable social problems, we fail because we look at them in far too "normal" ways.
Our intuitions teach us to look at and to plot most human realities and tendencies with the aid of a Bell Curve mentality.
In this essay he uses homelessness, police brutality and pollution as examples of human challenges where the Bell Curve approach is not only incorrect factually, it simply does not work.
The essence of his argument is very simple: concentrate resources at the point of real pathology rather than spreading resources equally across an entire community, problem or continuum.
Gladwell makes a strong case that much of our failure in addressing truly vexing issues is less about public policy and more about public compliance. I needed to hear this and I need to spend more time thinking about it.
In the cases he cites as proof of the truth of his paradigm, he demonstrates that by investing considerable resources and effort in the real "hot spots" of an issue or concern, progress can be made and efficiencies achieved.
Regarding homelessness, he builds a compelling case for providing permanent housing--apartments for chronically homeless persons--complete with intensive case management and guiding services and engagement. The results with such an approach can be startling. Chronic homelessness could be largely removed from our urban areas if we were willing to think in this new manner.
Check out Gladwell's wisdom.
I'd love to hear your thoughts once you have digested his ideas!
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Rising from Ashes
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.