Monday, May 29, 2017

Homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk

The man was sound asleep on the sidewalk.


I took a quick picture of a man sleeping on the sidewalk when I walked past him on 9th Street, just up from Rite Aid, downtown. It was a very hot day, in the early afternoon, on the day just before Monday when Memorial Day.is celebrated.

Was he a homeless veteran? I don't know. Someone that I once knew when I was homeless, fully dependent on homeless-charity services? I can have known him; but he was not someone I recognized.

I didn't try to awaken him -- though, perhaps I should have. And perhaps I should have called someone to pick him up and -- maybe -- take him away to the drunk tank, where drunk or not they could clean him up.

I am often not good at knowing what to do. And, like many, I am apt to default to a decision of doing nothing. "He'll be alright," I can tell myself. "He's sleeping and is possibly in great need of rest."

His pants were soiled. Possibly, he'd gotten quite drunk the night before.

At his back was what looked like a three-gallon jug of milk. I left a small $1 box of oat biscuits next to the milk jug. And walked off.

---

It is, no doubt, common for people to pass by a homeless man and to try to suppose how he got to be the way he is. Was he once an attorney? a soldier? a dependable employee at a warehouse? Was he once married to a girl named Sue?

Was he a child who had a very hard time understanding what they tried to teach him in elementary school. Were his parents brutal? negligent at helping him?

We can suppose and suppose and suppose, but never get into his brain and know what his life has been like or how he can now be aided such to put him on a quick road to happiness.

----

There should be a lottery, open to all the sad-seeming homeless people in Sacramento. The winner gets a trip to Paris to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. And a trip to Rome to eat amazing Italian food. Plus a whole year of being subjected to all sorts of fun and merriment. The lucky homeless winner of the lottery won't have a single minute that is wasted with a thought of having to think up something to do. And friends. We can give the homeless lottery winner friends, galore, with each new friend having been screened such to be especially appropriate for the needs and interests of the lottery winner.

At the end of the year, we can hope that the homeless lottery winner will be joyful and fully recovered from ever again being depressed or lonely or eager to buy a big bottle of vodka at Rite Aid. Right?

We can fix things, can't we? Isn't that what we hear screaming in our ear? This fine homeless man, here. Can't we help? Isn't the only thing that we can do to help is to have him win the lottery and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower?

Monday, May 22, 2017

The desperate Bee's bullshit story about homeless people at Central branch

I think the Bee has determined that the only way that it might survive terrible financial decisions it has made in recent years is to go full-bore elitist, throwing its weight – its light weight – in with Piglet, the Arena, and making the public fund the Kings.

The New York Times and the Washington Post are spectacularly far beyond the Bee’s reach as bastions of Great Journalism, so the little buzzing Bee has determined that attacking homeless people is a good tactic to aid it in staying marginally relevant to people’s lives.

First World News Channel has picked up the Bee’s recent story “Homeless are Central Library’s most frequent patrons – but not for the books.” That title – the same one the Bee used – is a double-whammy false-information headline. For starters, it’s not based on any assembled evidence that homeless people are using the bathrooms at the Sacramento Public Library’s Central branch to any notable huge degree. It’s not Fake News, but it is Faked News by the irresponsible Bee reporter A. Chabria (and her headline writer and some dysfunctional editor, if there was one).

I am frequently at the Central branch; I, most often, write my blog from there. I think I can fully accurately report that homeless people, just like branch managers and Library Directors and Joyce Terhaar, go to the bathroom at a number of instances that comports with the felt need to go to the bathroom – no more, no less.

As for the homeless opening books, I have written in the past about homeless people recommending novels or genres of books to their friends. Science Fiction and fantasy books have spent months being popular among homeless readers. I forget many of the authors, but some of the guys were trading popular war novels back and forth with their friends. Can’t say I know much about what female homeless people read. Some of the guys have spent months reading Western novels. There are times when I was heavily into short stories, reading everything I could written by T.C. Boyle and a contemporary of Boyle’s whose name I forget.

The homeless, likely more-so than any other group, are into reading magazines and newspapers the library provides. There are guys that devour science magazines to learn more about curious animals and our ever-expanding knowledge about outerspace.

And in the current day, there are some of us who use the mags, papers and internet to stay abreast of the latest Trump horror stories.

A couple days after the Bee’s bullshit story broke, I talked to several librarians on Central branch’s third floor. One was timid to say much of anything; I can’t attribute this, exactly, but my sense of what the person was saying was that it was not fully safe for librarians to say much about news stories. The Library’s leaders were covetous of having that task. Another of the librarians, was mildly aware of bathroom noise, at times, and said he/she very much enjoyed his/her work – very much including his/her always positive interactions with homeless people.

There was more in the story about human feces left in the parameter of the Central branch building. This happens because homeless people have no place to be -- and, yet they still have the need to vacate their bowels when there is no appropriate place for doing that in the dark of night, with every business being closed and unwelcoming.

Poverty isn't a Lack of Character

Ted Talk by Rutger Bregman, given in April in Vancouver. The video is a mere 15 minutes. And offers a lot of interesting information, including a solution to the poverty problem.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The thing that distinguishes our species from others is only this: We Contemplate the Future

Scientists have come to learn something important and fundamental about our species. Unlike other animals, we cogitate on what our future might be.

In an opinion piece in the current New York Times issue of its Sunday Review [for 5/21/17], we are told by Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center, and John Tierney, a New York Times journalist, that "We aren't built to live in the moment" and that "what best distinguishes our species from all others is that our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it’s also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we’re evaluating our own lives or worrying about the nation."

"[W]e thrive by considering our prospects," the Times piece tells us. "The power of prospection [anticipation, foresight] is what makes us wise. Looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is a central function of our large brain, as psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered — rather belatedly, because for the past century most researchers have assumed that we’re prisoners of the past and the present."

Further, we're told ...
Psychoanalysts believed that treating patients was a matter of unearthing and confronting the past. Even when cognitive psychology emerged, it focused on the past and present — on memory and perception. But it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection: the generation and evaluation of mental representations of possible futures. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. Our brain sees the world not by processing every pixel in a scene but by focusing on the unexpected.
Our emotions are less reactions to the present than guides to future behavior. Therapists are exploring new ways to treat depression now that they see it as primarily not because of past traumas and present stresses but because of skewed visions of what lies ahead.
While the mayor of Sacramento and the Bee's lead editorial writer, Marcos Breton, focus on human feces left next to buildings by homeless people, downtown, likely we and they should be focusing on the possible futures of many homeless people that are getting lost in the slumber of having nothing they want to do. We can see individuals wrapped up in blankets, sleeping their day away on sidewalks, downtown, and under freeway overpasses.

I would say that these are people who need to be invigorated and have a parade of possibilities presented to them of what their future can be.

You don't save lives only by keeping people's bodies alive; we have to create hope and prospects for a merciful and endearing future whirling around in "lost" people's heads.

The great majority of prominent philosophers in our time and throughout history have been men. But two extremely prominent philosophers of the current time are women, Susan R. Wolf and Vallerie Tiberius. Wolf's concentration is on morality and the philosophy of action. Wolf's most-recent book is "Meaning in Life and Why it Matters" -- a splendid book that encourages people to explore what they might most want in life.

The focus of Tiberius's work has been "a practical, empirical approach to philosophical questions, trying to show how these disciplines can improve the world for the better." Tiberius's most recent book is "The Reflective Life."

We have some terrific sociologists in Sacramento. One is Claudia Dias whom the great James Bradley talked about with me not long before he died, hailing her excellence. Perhaps she could talk to our slumberous homeless brethren about their lives and inspire them to seek valiant, engaged futures.

We simply must do something.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A little respect for the perceived "enemy."

I think that I am solidly in favor of homeless people in Sacramento having much, much better lives.

But, there are some people who lay claim to being more, more, more on the side of homeless people than is even possible!  These are the super-animated homeless advocates! The homeless allies with a booster rocket! The homeless-people lovers that will concede nothing to any rival advocates whom they see as weak-willed and mamby, pamby. The Super Duper Homeless Advocates are staunch! strong! powerful! uncompromising! They see every issue as having only one dimension, THEIR SIDE! THEIR VIEW OF THINGS!

For the Dupers, only THEIR one-dimensional understanding of homeless people and the homeless circumstance is valid. Only their takes on what all should be done to save the homeless is doable and good enough. In the Dupers' eyes, homeless people are sainted, the very focus of all that Jesus wanted for man (and woman- ) kind.

The Super Duper homeless advocates decry homeowners who say they see homeless people trash their neighborhood or defecate on  their lawn or dig through their trash containers. The Super Dupers view the homeowners as "heartless haters," and mean-spirited dehumanizers that should be understood to be "the enemy."

At issue here is NIMBY, an abbreviation for Not In My Back Yard. The term Nimby also applies to people who object -- often in a very animated manner -- to people and projects and buildings and whatnot that come into their neighborhood that might lower their property values or lessen  tranquility in the neighborhood.

Nimby
/' nimbe/
noun
a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or potentially dangerous in their own neighborhood, such as a landfill or hazardous wate facility, expecially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.


A potential irony here is that if homeless people really get their lives straightened around -- getting  jobs and apartments and homes and happiness -- THEY would then rise to a point of being on the lookout for projects or people or circumstances that could disrupt their solid, peaceful lives. And when a new batch of homeless people come along with an approved project of creating a Tent City nearby, that could create discord, with the happy old-school no-longer-homeless people being disapproving of the new bunch of invading homeless people.

People tend to be agile at defending what they have and ignorant of what other people don't have.

[A source for this post is a Facebook discussion group, and also memories of Safe Ground during its negatively eventful days during the John & Tracie administration.]

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tiny Houses, coming in a flurry

Whoa!

I had come to believe in just the last ten days or so that Homeless World was fully stuck – unable to progress in any effort to expand the number of beds needed to give comfort to the many, many homeless people who are out on the street, idling away their lives and not getting good-nights’ rests.

Tiny-houses articles in the Bee and in East Sac News
BUT, an article on the third page of the current issue [for May 4, 2017] of East Sacramento News tells us that a tiny-houses community is being build, called Compassion Village, that will be a “scalable, grassroots, privately funded tiny-home community focused on temporary, interim and permanent  homes for the chronically homeless." The expectation is that twenty tiny homes will be build.

[UPDATE: Turns out that the effort, if all things go well, is for Tammy Vallejo and her organization, Real Estate with Purpose Group, to produce all the tiny houses for church-related groups that are now authorized, by law. It is possible that 400 tiny houses will be constructed with twenty church groups each maintaining twenty houses on their property. This all relates to the April 29 appearance of Mayor Steinberg and Joan Burke on KCRA where they called for tiny-houses communities at churches to aid in helping the burgeoning population of homeless people on the streets in Sac County. Steinberg and Burke called for 15-to-20 faith-based groups to 'take in'  15-to-20 homeless people. The new "call," apparently, is for each of 20 church groups to allow 20 tiny houses on their property that might house more than a single person in each house.]

I’m not sure what specific meanings are intended for some of the terms used in the East Sac News article about the houses -- scalable, grassroots, temporary, interim, permanent -- to describe the village [or, villages] in its/their ultimate manifestation(s), but I think we get the general idea. A village -- or, up to twenty villages -- will come into being that will provide shelter and comfortable sleep space for many of our brethren.

A story in today's [5/11/17] Sacramento Bee [page 3A] is about tiny houses being built by students as part of a two-day competition by the Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange Education Foundation at Consumnes River College. Fifteen high-school teams were involved. Four of the teams focused on creating tiny houses to be used by Veterans. The other groups focused on creating sheds.

I don't know the location for either Compassion Village or where the houses for Veterans will be placed, ultimately. Of course, more specifics will become known as progress in the creation of the houses continues.

I know that I have a wee bit of a reputation for complaining, but the name "Compassion Village" is terrible, in my humble opinion. For a house -- even a tiny house -- to be a home, the inhabitants of the structure need to feel that it is theirs -- where they have the freedom to do things in their lives with their "home" acting as the foundation for them to pursue work, create and enjoy their lives. I think it is highly unhelpful for the idea behind tiny-house building to be one of making people feel continually that they are impoverished charity recipients, in never-ending need of sympathy and pity from others.

Of course, the idea of using charity-giving terminology as the name of an enterprise that is in the "give people stuff" business is mighty common and is understandable. Still, it is both tiresome and painful how homeless people cannot escape, for a moment, labels that undermine their personhood or freedoms or are otherwise demeaning. 

Another thing that is odd is that tiny houses are being build for veterans at Consumnes River College. Veterans -- at least, those who were honorably discharged -- are put at the top of the list in getting apartments. Plus, they get a lot of attention, from veterans organizations, such that their other needs are mostly met.

I hope to pursue the tiny-houses issue frequently in the next few weeks.

Hurrah!, I say, for the work being done to make homeless people's lives better.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Three Ideas


There are several eager efforts afoot to try to add shelter in the county for what many see as a burgeoning population of homeless people that are living on the streets.

Here are three ideas of things that could be done to aid in the transitioning of homeless people from the street to either a shelter bed for something more optimal (like housing!)

Displaying Photo.jpg
IDEA # 1: A good many homeless men and women in Sac County and City are overweight. Something they might be able to do for themselves as a prelude to a great and glorious life that is more-wholesome, normal and ordinary and untroubled could be to Resist Diabetes.

The short article, at left, comes from the May, 2017, issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

It suggests that it can be of great benefit if prediabetes people get into a program of strength training to avoid diabetes.

We should encourage people to GET EXCITED about the idea of getting housing and a new, rebooted life. Being stronger (and perhaps thinner and healthier) could add greatly to people's optimism.

I am thinking that some sort of Fund-Me drive might make a program for prediabetes homeless people possible.

IDEA #2:   In the last minutes of the podcast Up First, episode for Tuesday, May 9, 2017  -- fast forward to 7:35 into the podcast, thus to hear the last 4:15 -- there is a discussion of fraud, theft and failure with $8 Billion that is called The Low Income Tax Credit Program that is supposed to be used to build housing for the poor. In its beginning it was a great and mostly successful plan that aided developers in creating low-rent apartments. NOW, 30 years after the program was started, it has been found that the investors and developers are winning with this program, to the detriment of low-income people Nowadays, the program is described as a "Subterranean ATM" that only the thieving developers have access to.

Can this program that has been undermined by graft get the attention of the City or State pols such that it can be forced to do what The Low Income Tax Credit Program was set up to do?? More apartments for low-income people would, of course, be a Godsend for families AND for Sacramento with its burgeoning population of poor folks having to live on the streets.

IDEA #3: In Brooklyn, New York, a group of homeless people banded together, somehow, led by an amazing, enterprising fellow named Ray, a passionate Christian. The many people in the group found a house that they could rent in Brooklyn -- that would be called 3Sixty House. And since many of them were very artistic -- indeed it was their artistry that bonded them -- they began to design and silk-screen T-shirts.

Oops, I forgot something else that bonded the group together: They were all passionate Christians.

The business that was created was named Grateful Apparel. It is an AMAZING business that makes spectacular, wonderful, delightful creations, dedicated to God. And today, nine years after its founding in 2008, it makes a very fine collection of t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, headgear, accessories, skateboards and more!

I was rendered homeless in 2008 and, somehow, almost immediately, I became aware of Grateful Apparel because, at that time, my thinking about what homeless people in Sacramento needed was JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

Now, I cannot say that I think Sacramento could be so very amazing that it could expect to duplicate Grateful Apparel's genius and high level of artistry. But there are people in Sac who have amazing skills that they are not utilizing, all because they are stuck in "the Goldfish Bowl."

"The Goldfish Bowl" is how some homeless people I've known have described the homeless life -- in that it is day after day after day swimming in circles. You go from your shelter; to lunch; to the library; to the park and then back to your shelter -- with nothing changing.

One idea in how to help homeless people could be to assess their skills and then, from that, help them find a means to make money from what is their passion.

It is little known, but there are many incredibly brilliant men and women living the homeless life in Sacramento. Let us help them bloom to become yet better manifestations of the amazing people they are already!