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A.L.I.C.E., 2017, stoneware

 

Meet A.L.I.C.E.

She has a full-time job, but lives in a weekly motel that she shares with a roommate. She can't afford utilities or a car, and takes the bus to work. She's been working for Disney for 17 years, but only makes $10/hr. She loves bringing smiles to children's faces, but can't muster her own most days. Unlike costumes, she can't step out of this situation.


Yes folks, Alice is real. (See the 7/16 @orlandosentinel article "Job brings man joy - if not riches" by Gabby Russon, or just Google "Disney homeless"). ALICE is an acronym for "asset limited income constrained and employed" and approx 45% of the Central Florida workforce is one paycheck away from being homeless.

And if Alice doesn't have special technical skills or the education to move into management, doesn't have transportation, and can't afford to find another job, she finds herself in chains. When I see Alice, stereotypes and assumptions try to cloud an honest look at the situation. I think that maybe she should just get another job in a town she can afford. Maybe if she made better choices, she wouldn't find herself stuck. Our society rewards those who work hard and make good decisions, right? There is nothing else that could possibly determine who moves up and who gets left behind, right? And this is where we see just how complicated the story is. You see, Alice doesn't dress herself.

ALICE is a face we know - a face of Disney. There is no shortage of news articles addressing the relationship between Disney and the number of people precariously housed or homeless in CFL. Disney is the largest single-site employer in the country, and yet they fail to pay living wages to many employees. Disney makes billions in yearly revenue, yet their contributions to effect the housing crisis are strikingly small. No, Disney is not THE cause, but it is part of the problem. It seems they have the power to change the story on the homelessness crisis, but will they? What do you see as Disney's role in the conversation?