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Tamara was in attendance and also ended up enjoying herself
September 27, 2013 7:59 AM   Subscribe

40 days before her wedding, an Atlanta woman named Tamara Fowler cancelled the event. Since her parents, Carol and Willie Fowler had already paid for the 200-person reception, the family decided to host 200 of Atlanta's homeless population for a four-course meal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (23 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's awesome. Shame it wasn't documented on video. I would love to shoot something like that.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:09 AM on September 27, 2013


Here is the marriage-feast all ready, and those who had been invited have proved unworthy of it. You must go out to the street-corners, and invite all whom you find there to the wedding. And his servants went out into the streets, where they mustered all they could find, rogues and honest men together; and so the wedding had its full tale of guests.
--Gospel according to Matthew
posted by resurrexit at 8:15 AM on September 27, 2013 [59 favorites]


Friggin' Awesome!
posted by caddis at 8:26 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Putting Good Deeds In Headlines May Not Be So Good
posted by cjorgensen at 8:31 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder whether the restaurant feels some pressure not to charge the family for the dinner after all.
posted by escabeche at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2013


You know, it's things like this that make me feel justified in my belief that most people are truly decent and kind. I'm sad her wedding got canceled, but I'm beyond delighted that they decided to give to food and the party to people who never get parties.

Did you see the grins on those kids faces? Even next to a clown they were happy. That's some pretty awesome shit right there.
posted by teleri025 at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Putting Good Deeds In Headlines May Not Be So Good

That article is more than a little ambiguous, it ends with You have to be careful not to go overboard, as one expert put it. But celebrating people for doing the right thing is still the right thing to do.
posted by edgeways at 8:54 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


That moral outrage story about praising good deeds really pissed me off when I heard it. The idea might be sound, it might not, but it doesn't provide any evidence one way or another. A competing theory might be that when overt "good deeds" occur in a situation where the "bad deed" was low risk, praising good behavior encourages others to behave similarly. Or maybe it has complex ramifications that are hard to measure. It's an interesting question that this doesn't even begin to answer.
"But at the risk of twisting any of these precious good-news stories into more bad news, experts say there may be a downside to overplaying it."
They then quote an ethics professor on the subject. The ethics professor is certainly an expert in the abstract philosophy of ethical action; if he is part of an ERB or similar, he may even be an expert on the practical application of ethics. But is he in any way qualified to weigh in on how best to publicly promote ethical actions in order to encourage a given population to behave in a certain manner? That sounds like a sociological and/or psychological question to me. Or an advertising question. Business professors with a focus on managing employees may easily have more expertise in that area (at least in the context of small teams) than him.

Oh, they do quote a business professor later on:
"It suggests that most people in that situation would have done those bad things. So, it reinforces a norm that most people are selfish and self-serving, and therefore, it's OK if you're selfish and self-serving," Effron says.
Thank god we have hard-hittine news reporters to concern troll for us. I shudder to think of the harm committed by those posters of kittens hanging onto branches with captions that say things like, "Hang in there." It's so depressing to have this, like, reinforced norm of life being difficult shoved in your face every day.
"In this particular case — I'll just say it — the homeless man was an African-American guy, and most of the young football players who paid for their goods were African-American," says Candace Upton, who teaches moral psychology at the University of Denver. "I don't think it's beyond this culture at this time to say that we do have lower expectations, which is unfair. But that's what sets up the big surprise, and hence probably the big response."
Oh, there at the end? That bit? If you looked into it, maybe you'd find a story. Maybe race is a deciding factor, or class, or both. Or maybe not. I'm left as ignorant at the end of the news story as I was at the beginning of it.

Weak sauce.
posted by jsturgill at 9:08 AM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


>Putting Good Deeds In Headlines May Not Be So Good

I think the article makes an interesting point, but there's this, from the ethics professor referring to the examples in the NPR story: "They had an obligation to do what they did. It was not above and beyond the call of duty. They really just did what we should have expected them to do."

These folks were in no way obligated to do what they did.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:18 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thank you, roomthreeseventeen, for putting things in my eye.
posted by spinturtle at 9:30 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first thought was, I bet you could feed more people, but not as fancily, from the amount of deposits they were able to get back. So maybe that wasn't the best use of the money.

But then I saw jsturgill's comments on "putting good deeds in the headlines may not be so good" (couldn't open the link). Wow. Continuing to spend the amount of money you'd pour into a fancy wedding when there's no wedding, that's not an obligation, that's above and beyond.

Good for them, and it looks like a memorable evening for everyone.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


>Putting Good Deeds In Headlines May Not Be So Good

Perhaps not but good can be infectious. I paid for someone else's lunch who was in line behind me today just after reading this. This small random act of kindness in no way compares, but perhaps they inspired me, and perhaps will or have already inspired others.
posted by caddis at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


No matter how good you try to be, you're still bad and you should feel bad for trying.
posted by aramaic at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


“The passed hors d’oeuvre were very interesting because the children were wondering, ‘could we take the whole tray, or do we just take one off of the tray?’” said Elisabeth Omilami, CEO of Hosea Feed the Hungry. “So this was an educational opportunity as well, because now they all know how to eat at a four-course meal and the etiquette involved in that.”
Am I the only person who feels that this paragraph is just... wrong? In a talking-down-to, look-at-the-uneducated-poor-and-homeless, arent-they-uncivilized sense?
posted by mrbill at 10:54 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I the only person who feels that this paragraph is just... wrong? In a talking-down-to, look-at-the-uneducated-poor-and-homeless, arent-they-uncivilized sense?

I wondered about it when I read it, but the quote comes from someone who works with low-income people all the time. I think it's okay to be happy when people gain all sorts of life skills that they would otherwise miss out on by growing up in poverty. The wording is just really weird.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Am I the only person who feels that this paragraph is just... wrong? In a talking-down-to, look-at-the-uneducated-poor-and-homeless, arent-they-uncivilized sense?

I don't get that. Some of those kids may later find themselves at another 4-course meal. Maybe it will be connected to a work or educational opportunity. If they feel a little more at ease, that's a good thing.
posted by Area Man at 10:58 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


can there please be more comments on how the money could have been spent better or how we shouldn't praise people for generosity or how this was patronizing to the homeless in some way because there is a tiny spark of upliftingness left to this post and we should grind it under our collective heel while we still can
posted by daisystomper at 11:11 AM on September 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


People need those life skills and above-all confidence if they haven't been in those situations. That's not patronizing. That's acknowledging the situation, which is what you have to do when you do social work.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:31 AM on September 27, 2013


Am I the only person who feels that this paragraph is just... wrong? In a talking-down-to, look-at-the-uneducated-poor-and-homeless, arent-they-uncivilized sense?

It is kind of condescending, but it's not wrong, and there's no value judgment in her statement. Most people don't have regular opportunities to attend fancy four-course dinners, and where exactly are you supposed to learn the etiquette for one if you can't learn it from your family? If your entire social circle and family are not in the class where fancy four-course dinners are possible, how are you supposed to learn how to conduct yourself at one beyond basic good manners (which aren't "basic" across all classes and cultures anyway)? It's not like modern public schools are finishing schools that include this kind of thing in the curriculum.

Also, holy shit does this depress me: "Because children make up approximately 70% of Atlanta’s homeless..." Nitpick and beanplate all you want, but feeding homeless children and their families with food and/or money that otherwise would have gone to waste seems like an unalloyed good to me.
posted by yasaman at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's one of the things Oprah's school for girls in Africa was criticized for -- that it had all these amenities and extra things, and couldn't they educate more girls if they did it more simply. And one point that came back was that they were trying to educate future leaders, people who could comfortably interact with business and government leaders from more privileged populations, and exposing them to the things those leaders took for granted was a necessary part of that.

If you ever read AskMe, you'll find that the finer points of etiquette are not well understood (or agreed upon) even among relatively privileged groups of people, but a whole lot of judging goes on if you violate those rules. Pointing out that underprivileged kids haven't had much of a chance to learn those details isn't the saying that they are rude or uncivilized, just that they probably haven't had much opportunity to engage in the kinds of environments where those rules come into play.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, there is something to be said for giving children the opportunity to see what is possible. The fancy party hopefully demonstrates that at some point, their lives could become this. Now granted, it's a long way from a homeless shelter to a four-course catered meal, but by God, I hope at least one of those kids at that party sees it as a real goal that he or she achieves.

I know to my middle-class hillbilly teenage self, the moment when I first went to a fancy party with canapes and courses, my mind was blown. It set a standard for behavior and entertainment that was so far above jello salad and cheese on Ritz crackers. I knew from books and tv that people lived like this, but until I was actually in it, I did not realize what it entailed. From that day on, I realized that the world was much bigger and wider than I really imagined. Travel wasn't just going some place like home but with a different Holiday Inn, fancy dinner was more than just Western Sizzlin, and sometimes, champange was really champange.

I still don't live in the 4-course dinner world, but I visit from time to time and it always reminds me of what I have and what all is out there. And I'm even more thankful for both.
posted by teleri025 at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


can there please be more comments on how the money could have been spent better or how we shouldn't praise people for generosity or how this was patronizing to the homeless in some way because there is a tiny spark of upliftingness left to this post and we should grind it under our collective heel while we still can

yea really can we just for once not nitpick this nice thing some nice people did? I know that this is what we do here, but these people did a kind and generous thing - they took a bad situation, and turned it into a good, and they plan to do it again next year. These are exactly the sort of people I want to share the planet with.

So much of the media is focused on the hurtful and cruel things that people do to each other that sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that most people are kind and decent. The NPR article suggesting we shouldn't praise people for doing the right thing is interesting, but since we are awash is stories about the bad things people do, we need stories about the good things people do - we need to know that they're out there, that we can act like that too, that we can be human and decent and feel good about ourselves once in a while. maybe even all the time.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


My first thought was, I bet you could feed more people, but not as fancily, from the amount of deposits they were able to get back. So maybe that wasn't the best use of the money.

I think there's something to be said for just letting people who never get to splurge party. Maybe it's not "the best use of the money", but maybe that's exactly what makes it an awesome thing.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:01 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


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