Be like MacGyver

Rev.-Bill-Kirlin-Hackett “We need to be more like MacGyver.”

The Reverend Bill Kirlin-Hackett, Director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, was strategizing during a breakout session at this week’s Shelter and Housing Summit, hosted by Eastside Human Service Forum. “We need to be like him.”

For those with only a vague idea of who this is, MacGyver was the hero of a TV show that ran for seven seasons beginning in 1985. The show followed the adventures of secret agent, Angus MacGyver, who worked as a trouble shooter for a fictional US agency. Famously, he solved complex problems with everyday materials he found at hand, especially his ever-present duct tape and Swiss Army knife.

“We need to be like MacGyver,” Bill explained. “We need to stop trying to fit reality to our flow charts. We need to use what we have to find solutions for problems.”

Winter shelter was the topic at our table. Short-term: where can we locate a winter shelter for men (women will go again to The Sophia Way)?  Longer-term:  how can we create a year-round shelter to meet the needs of Eastside residents without housing? How can we move from emergency management to a more strategic re-housing response?

Alison Eisinger, Executive Director, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH),  agreed with Bill. “We don’t need to do any more problem identification,” she noted. “We have done that work. Everyone knows the issues (such as zoning or fire codes or location issues).  These issues are not actual barriers.  We need to start focusing our energies now on problem solving.”

The take-away from the summit was for those of us in the choir to bring someone new to the next discussion. Let me know if you want to be at the table.  Join us as we move toward action. You, too, can be like MacGyver.