I learned about Free Minds Austin after watching the film A Reckoning in Boston which highlights the ongoing educational program known as The Clemente Course in the Humanities. The Austin nonprofit program represents Clemente here. The program engages low-income adults and provides a humanities pathway to graduation.

The new film shows the trials and tribulations of Clemente students —- as they overcome homelessness, difficult childhoods, and community displacement by gentrification in Boston. The film is a character study of a subset of a population we’ve all become familiar with —- the homeless who’ve become adrift in our cities. Not all ended up here because of drug abuse. The affordability crisis is taking a huge toll on the workers who make great cities run like Austin, Boston, and San Francisco. If you work in the tech world, you are familiar with the affordability crisis, too. There is a mass migration to more affordable cities.

I had a heavy dose of the humanities in college. Oftentimes, it appears the leaders who drive our economy forward lack the benefit of a humanities education. I learned about peace, empathy, and purpose from reading philosophy books, not from a business and technical education. Books are highlighted in this blog to promote a broader understanding. There is a “soft skills” problem contributing to the gap between haves and have-nots. A humanities education isn’t valued as much in tech-driven metropolises. An engineer needs to understand the why’s of homelessness and other social problems before coming up with the how.

We need more programs like Clemente which uplift promising people who simply never got the education that would have saved them. Our streets would be cleaner and safer if every able homeless person completed a Clemente course.

I’m learning more about the Austin effort. It took a film to motivate me. 😄