Been thinking for a while about the growing challenge of panhandling in a progressively cashless society. Twice, I've seen someone panhandling at a highway exit, gone to an ATM to get cash, and returned to give the person money (Twice. I see panhandlers at exits most warm and many cold days of the year). Now also thinking about the difference in how panhandlers are perceived vs. Kickstarter and GoFundMe or even Kiva users (I don't at all mean to knock those great services). I think about panhandlers holding signs like "THIS CORNER IS MY KICKSTARTER" (someone must be!) or "HOMELESS & HUNGRY FOR ANYTHING...POTATO SALAD IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT." I'm tempted to do an art project about this (and how it relates to information literacy and the digital divide). If I don't, someone else will, because daily issues very often take art projects to be seen. And I don't want to do an art project about this, because that fact makes me queasy and suspicious of art projects, especially across class lines.
How interesting (unsurprising?) that we're more moved to generosity when we can't see a person, outside of a photo on a website. That seeing your suffering (or even just asking) in my physical space might make me less likely to want to help you. That if you would just wait until I get home in 15 minutes and see a photo of you online asking for bus fare, you might get my money.