I spend a couple hours nearly every day standing in front of my truck talking to people. Sometimes I go 2 or 3 times a day.
I've got a mobile office setup that lets me work pretty much anywhere so I can keep working in quiet times.
I'm starting to crave it. I'm always thinking about when I can get out there next.
The people I get to meet are so amazing.
I met a guy last night who was waiting to meet up with his girlfriend who was just getting back from Asia. At the age of 20 he had traveled many places, including a trip to Vietnam with the Travel Channel and Bert Kreisher.
Then there's the guy who lives in the apartments next to Angel Falls who works remotely for a startup outside of the city. He could live anywhere but chooses to live in Akron.
An old friend who is transitioning from 20 years as a music teacher to going to Divinity School and has some of the most cutting edge religious thoughts you'll ever hear.
A friend from elementary school who brought me a book he thinks will help me in this pursuit.
I could probably write about these meetings for hours.
But it's the homeless people.
The homeless and the hungry. The people in pain - physical and mental.
They touch me to my core.
This experience floods back memories of the Hermann Hesse book, "Siddhartha". He was incredibly influenced by his exposure to the suffering of people around him. I would imagine as a social worker you know, with great detail, the feelings I'm just barely beginning to see.
This whole experience has quieted the emotional anxiety of the business world. The critical importance of increasing profits 10% from last year to this year doesn't hold the kind of panicked frenzy in my mind like it normally does.
There are bigger problems:
This experience will remain with me the rest of my life. I'm so grateful for it.
I don't know what the answer is. So I'm not going to give you some bull crap statement, "As mayor I will eliminate hunger in Akron."
No I won't.
But I will tell you this: I'm significantly influenced by it and will work very hard to understand what we can do together to make things better for these people.
See you soon on the street.
P.S. Today (July 9) is my quit day. I quit drinking, smoking and coffee 12 years ago. 🙂