The Power of Storytelling | A mayor goes undercover…as a homeless person!

August 7, 2017


There are times when our lived experiences contain all of the necessary ingredients to create an amazing story. In the case of Ben McAdams, mayor of Salt Lake County in Utah, he made a decision to dive headfirst into the kind of experience that many are afraid to talk about: homelessness. In the process, he risked his life and witnessed a world rife with chaos, fear, and drug abuse. For three days and two nights, Ben lived out his days as a homeless person, seeking shelter under the roof of a place called The Road Home.

But why?

His goals were motivated by pragmatism, not publicity: he hoped that his firsthand experience and real-world perspective could lend insight for recommending another shelter location and guiding future services and plans.

The Road Home was completely unaware of his plans to sacrifice his own safety, and that’s exactly how Ben wanted it. Grabbing a mattress there proved to be a challenge. So did finding a meal. And through these concerns, Ben was in a constant state of feeling unsafe, especially with the pervasive drug culture just outside The Road Home’s doors.

Read on to see what kind of insight Ben gained, before he returned home to his daily life; his real life — family, good health, and a comfortable house. In reality, those things were never all that far from reach to begin with, and safety was always just a phone call away. Obviously, the opposite is the case for those who are truly homeless. Imagine if more of our elected officials had the balls courage to do something like this.

Special thank you to Mark Horvath of Invisible People for alerting me to this story.

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