Can’t Not Do in Utah, Long Island, and DC

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard stories via radio interviews I’ve been on, about a friend of someone at the publisher (Wiley), and from a guy at the US Fish & Wildlife Service —

Bryson Garbett took Going to Hard Places to a whole new … place. He’s a home-builder and was building next door to a homeless shelter. Even though he and his family lived a few blocks away, he told me he had “no idea” what went on and how bad the problem was (see Kerry McLenahan, Ch. 1, early learning). Last September, he put his wallet, phone, and ID on the kitchen table and walked out the door to spend three days living the life of a homeless person, to get close enough to the real problem that he could feel it and know first-hand what and who this problems really was.

What he found, he told me, was “the worst place in the universe” – 3 hours in line for a bed to sleep on (he ended up on the only place available, the floor), 40 drug deals while waiting in line two hours for food, and a playground 10 feet away where syringes were dumped.

WHY would he do this, in the first place? As he answered, he sort of paused, then said he felt “… this this … this compulsion (see Heidi Breeze, Ch. 7, kooky drive) to do something more.” If that isn’t Cant’ Not Do, I don’t know what is. A little over a year ago, the mayor said there wasn’t much they could do. Today, Bryson is sort of an everyday hero in Salt Lake City, you can read the rest of the story so far. When I asked him if he believed they could truly change homelessness, Bryson said “Totally, it will change, this is my city.” He’s not close to done.

Today, the mayor’s office is changing things, the Pioneer Park Coalition that Garbett leads is a catalyst, and a new commission on homelessness has made its recommendations. One person, three nights, hundreds of lives will change. If you know more stories like Bryson’s, send ‘em my way.

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I’ll just share what Diana O’Neill, Director of the Long Island Volunteer Center, told me “I took your book with me for a talk to 55 Adelphi University freshmen during orientation. I read excerpts from your Introduction and the quote by Howard Thurman, leading Chapter 1 … They had been out all day doing a service project, had just had pizza, and appeared done for the day.  I was hoping they didn’t look at me as another talking head…

… but I saw that each one was listening and thinking about Can’t Not Do in their own way.  I threw out the question and several shouted out, health, hunger, environment, education, justice.  A good number came up to me after the talk and said how much they liked my story about my volunteering at … and invited me to join them at another project at …. (fill in the blanks). It was time well spent and gave me a second wind for my work.” IDK what to say, except that’s just cool, very cool. Who else has an unexpected story like Diana’s?

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And Joe Starinchak almost doesn’t need the book, he knows his Can’t Not Do and he is all-in. He wrote me one Saturday morning, “If you have time to talk today, I’ve attached a description of my Can’t Not Do.  Hopefully, reading this over will give you a better idea of my interests/passions and ways I want to change the world.” … Joe only wants to “address a complex, multi-faceted situation … by thinking differently, applying creativity, leveraging existing and new tools, developing new relationships, initiating new engagement strategies and creating new expectations.” He has developed a two-part social mission focused on co-creating new experiences with Millennials while also positioning fly fishing as a healing vehicle for those who will be impacted by climate-change driven health issues, while effectively positioning community-based conservation as an indicator of 21st century quality of life.” That’s all. Anyone know anyone that can help Joe?

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P.S. he also emailed me a great article, a new resource about 1+1=3 for Connectors (Ch. 6). Please send resources that go along with the ones I put in Appendix 4, I’d love to add to them at www.paulshoemaker.org/resources/