As the holidays surround us and the weather begins to turn cold (brutally cold on some nights) the "demonstration" on homelessness begins to really sink in. The homelessness awareness event took our focus off of the development aspects of WHTC and focused for a day on the implications. The implications for addressing the issues of homelessness are HUGE! The ability to provide ultra-affordable housing is huge! The implications of providing healthy community structures as the Convertible Community Concept provides has very significant implications when addressing the issue of homelessness. There are so many things to say and I decided that I will share with you some of the "lessons to self" that I gathered from this experience.
Lessons to self:
1. When you are homeless, you can't leave the "demonstration". When it got cold and started raining too hard on Saturday morning, and all the other people left....we could too! We broke camp and went home!
2. A little bit of shelter makes a BIG difference. For our demonstration, budget was a concern (translated: this was a very low budget event). Normally we would have used a building material with at least the rigidity of R-Max insulation boards which give a higher R-value. But the insulation boards we used, while not as rigid or highly insulated provided a definate protection from the at times pounding rain and the chilling wind. When inside you were sheltered from the elements and DRY!
3. A casual event of a short duration only scratches the most remote corner on the problem of homelessness.
4. NOT being homeless provides opportunities to prevent homelessness or at least provide for comforts. I had the luxury of making some phone calls and emails to solicit donations and resources. I garnered financial support and in-kind support. I was able to send emails and receive cash and gift cards to purchase materials. I was able to call and receive access to porta-potties on-site for the event. I was able to solicit free products from Tape Rite, Inc. (http://taperite.thomasnet.com/) because they believed in the work we were doing and showed it with with support. I was able to do all this because of having access to my handy dandy laptop with mobile air card, and my albeit frustrating at times, sprint cell phone - all of which might be a luxury if I were homeless for more than just one day!
5. Many have lost the "inquiring mind" spirit. I would think that a shiny silver, hexagon "thing" in the middle of Poplar Street would garner questions from curious passers-by. Very few stopped to even inquire what the shiny thing was all about.
6. Transportation is a precious commodity if you are homeless. With transportation I could go and tend to whatever needs I had. On Saturday after disassembling the Hexayurt structure in the pouring rain, I was soaked even to the insoles of my shoes. I was able to get in my car and drive to the warmth of a friends house who had graciously made lunch preparations for "after I wasn't homeless anymore." I could put my precious belongings into my vehicle and drive to a place where i could dry off out of my wet, cold garments. Homelessness doesn't provide this option for many.
7. Homelessness is not an issues that generally solicits goodwill and charity from many. Rather it is one that many seem to be able to ignore without guilt or remorse.
8. Homelessness has a stereotypical face. Many don't realize that a large and growing number of homeless look just like me and you. They are families with children, they are people who struggle to make ends meet every day, they are responsible adults that are hardworking and they are innocent children who have not been given a choice about their situation.
9. One last lesson....although there are many more....I have within my power to do more about this issue.
I hope you will take a minute to reflect on my lessons or perhaps garner lessons of your own. Homelessness is an issue that can be quite complicated, but we have the necessary tools to offer real sustainable solutions! One tool is in being able to provide ultra-cheap living structures!
Please check out the pictures from the event.