LeBron James Builds His Dreamhouse
No, this is not an attack on LeBron James for building a 35,440 square foot mansion outside of Cleveland.
I don't follow basketball all that closely, but from what I do hear about it as background noise, LeBron is phenomenally talented, a great up-from-under story, and a decent guy who does a lot of his family and the community - Akron - that he came from.
Having already made a good start on his "stated goal is to be the world's first billionaire athlete" ever - though I think he'll have competition from Tiger Woods and David Beckham - Mr. James is entitled to spend his money however he wants, and if that means spending it on a dream house, well, that's his right - even if it required tearing down the 11-bedroom house that used to stand on the property. ("An outer wall will feature a limestone sculpture — a bas-relief of LeBron's head, wearing his trademark headband" - which may or may not increase the resale value.)
No, LeBron James is entitled to build his dream house.
Just as Donald Trump is entitled to spend money he may or may not have on his wretched excess Versailles gold-and-mirror apartment in Trump Tower. (At least when he "restored" Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, he was doing something of historical significance. Mar-a-lago was originally built by Roaring Twenties heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. According to Wikipedia - and what's not to trust, there - the "house" has "58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, a 29-foot-long solid marble dining table, 12 fireplaces, and three bomb shelters" (they must have been put in during the Cold War). Mar-a-Lago, from what I can gather, is now a private club and glorified function hall.)
Just as Al Gore's is entitled to his 10,000 square foot 'wouldn't it be nice to gave all the kids and grandkids under one roof and have every sub-family have their own bath, etc. or whatever else was going on in his and Tipper's head when they built it house. Come on, Al, I still love you, but do carbon offsets really work?
Just as I am entitled to a brief meditation on whether we'd all be better off without all of these excrescences.
I sit on the board of (and volunteer at) St. Francis House, a large day shelter with a largely homeless clientele.
At our last board meeting, we discussed whether we would be better off lobbying for and/or building Single Room Occupancy (SRO) or efficiency units. (The difference is that in SROs, kitchen and bath are shared.)
35,000 square feet. 10,000 square feet. That's a lot of SRO. That's a lot of efficiency units.
There are thousands of people - in Boston, NY, Cleveland, Akron, and maybe even Palm Beach - who are homeless. They're homeless because their lives of desperate, dire poverty have ill-equipped them to deal with personal setbacks. They may have no family or interior resources to fall back on when something bad happens to them. They may be mentally ill. Or just out of jail. Or substance abusers. Or people who make bad choices. Or just have unimaginably bad luck. One, some, all of the above.
All I know is that when I talk to our guests they will all tell you the same thing: "All I want is a job and a place of my own." Like all of us, they want a door they can lock. A place to leave whatever stuff they have. A bed that's not over a heating grate, under an over pass, or in a room filled with 200 other luckless individuals.
They may have dream houses in mind, but they're dream houses are far more modest than those of LeBron James, Donald Trump, or Al Gore.
Well, it's spring now, so at least people won't be freezing to death out there.
But the weather can still be cold, windy, and rainy. And when you're "out there" it's also scary and lonely.
St. Francis House, by the way, is not just about a place to come in out of the cold and rain. Yes, we do provide that - and breakfast and lunch; clothing; showers; medical, legal, psychological, and spiritual counseling. We also have programs - like Moving Ahead (MAP) - that help people rebuild their lives. MAP graduations, in which everyone gets to play valedictorian and tell their story, are remarkable events.
Even if you don't have a 35,000 square foot house. Or a 58 bedroom mansion. Or a relatively modest Al and Tipper sized "cottage". If you're reading this blog, you've probably got a place to call home.
Just remember that there are plenty of people out there who don't.