Monday, June 30, 2008

From Mobile Loaves And Fishes

Mobile Loaves & Fishes has started the summer off with a bang! This month we celebrated ONE YEAR of serving meals in Nashville. Thanks to each and every one of you for making this dream a reality. As of today we have delivered 19,150 meals to the homeless and working poor of our community. This is absolutely incredible. Our goal for the 2008-2009 year is to increase this number to 40,000 meals. We realize that this is a huge number, but we are confident that it can and will happen. We are currently raising the funds necessary to sustain a second truck which will allow us to greatly increase the number of meals that we are able to serve and expand the geographic area in which we currently serve.



This summer has seen a few new things for MLF. For starters, we have started rolling out a plan to serve breakfast. Currently we have a few teams trying it out on the weekends, but as we continue to see success we will integrate this more regularly throughout the week as this is a much needed service. Additionally, we have had a lot of young children counted amongst our volunteer forces lately. Children as young as 18 months have been helping to bag cookies, make sandwiches and load the truck in recent weeks. This truly shows that there is something for everyone to do at MLF. As five year old philosopher and MLF volunteer Gus puts it, “The surest way to help yourself is to help another person.” This summer we were also excited to receive and distribute over 2,500 clothing items from the students of Belmont University’s Greek Life. They collected, sorted and bagged these items for MLF as part of their outreach efforts.



Did you know that Mobile Loaves & Fishes has a United Way of Metropolitan Nashville designation code? You may choose to designate gifts to MLF using code # 1239 and be sure to indicate Mobile Loaves and Fishes.



Get involved this summer. There are still a few open days on our calendar. If you are interested in putting together a team to prepare or deliver food on a Friday night or any time we have a “fifth week” of the month please let me know. I may be able to find a spot for you.



How can you help Mobile Loaves & Fishes? Here are a few quick suggestions:

1. Spread the word. Send this email to a couple of friends. Invite some co-workers on your next truck run.
2. Organize a collection. The homeless desperately need large and x-large sized t-shirts and shorts, socks, and toiletries (travel sized). MLF could use help with bottled water, baggies and snack food. Call the office for suggestions on a drive that you could organize.
3. Spend some extra time volunteering. Bring your kids by the office to make sandwiches, bag cookies, or work in the clothing room.
4. Assist MLF financially. You can mail a check or give online at www.mlfnow.org. (Be sure to designate Nashville.)



Housekeeping item: If you have not logged into your MLF volunteer profile and updated your address and phone number, please do so as soon as possible. MLF headquarters will be deleting volunteers with incomplete profiles. If you are deleted you will not receive your shift reminders, newsletters or other important MLF information. If you do not know how to log into your profile, simply reply to this message with your contact information and I’ll update the profile for you and send you your log in information again.



Thank you again for your commitment to MLF. We appreciate your hard work and dedication to helping those less fortunate in our city. With each meal we serve we are truly making a difference.



Sara A. Hylton

Program Director

Mobile Loaves & Fishes – Nashville

P.O. Box 40347

Nashville, TN 37204

Phone: 615-460-0172

Cell: 615-944-3115

shylton@mlfnashville.org

www.mlfnow.org

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fish And Chips

Hey y'all,
Been busy, so I haven't had time to write....well, that's not exactly true. I've had time on my hands, but I find myself being thoroughly distracted by my Second Life life. As I learn more, and yes there's a great deal to learn about Second Life, the more complex and intriguing it becomes. I still see no end to the potential of Second Life - especially as to how it enhances real life. So, I'm working it for all it's worth. I've met some really nice people in Second Life, and some real wackos too. It's relatively safe though, I'm old enough to take care of myself. And it all happens on the Internet and does not filter into the real - not yet anyway. There has been some movement that way - which really is a reflection on how Second Life can improve real life. An educational museum, that was designed and created in Second Life, has been remade in the real world. Live video conferencing is also available. So the two worlds can interact with each other. And I keep finding new and incredible worlds, beautiful and bizzare, and completely original. To see some of what's been created, without entering the SL world, you can go to Flickr.com, where thousands of SL imagines have been stored.

Last Wednesday, a politician took me to lunch - three of his staffers joined us. We met under the premise that the politician wanted to hear what I had to say about homelessness. Believe me, that was an impressive act. Not many people, politicians, or not, have just let me say my peace. Of course the whole of homelessness cannot be discussed over lunch. But I did talk to him about the big picture, and what I thought he could do, as a congressman to improve life, not just for the homeless, but for everyone - as life relates to that issue. Surprisingly, he brought up the idea of taking an "urban plunge" although he said he would not do it as a publicity stunt. Which then we would just take his word that he did it? Some documentation would be important, otherwise what he said would appear to be just hot air. Still, the man came across as sympathetic, though somewhat judgmental of homeless people - it's a common trait. When he talked of people who were addicted on drugs he talked of them "choosing" to live the homeless life. But I think he got the idea that when like gets tougher than you are, that a person must find a way to escape, so to not be killed by it. I even told the man that trying to "win" my vote was a futile act. I judge politicians more one what they have done, not on what they say. But he did say some important thing - especially that it's past time for change in government. And I personally don't believe this guy could do any worse of a job than our recent leaders. Who knows, some fresh blood just may be what our country needs, to get it back on track.

Like all politicians, I found him unable to just talk straight with me and not politic, or, as they say in Texas, "He was blowin' smoke up my ass." He was trying to be complimentary, but I found it embarrassing. In talking about my history of homelessness, and my subsequent blogging history, he compared me to John the Baptist. I'm sorry, but that just felt a bit disingenuous. But, then again, what poltician doesn't blow smoke up our collective asses? Well, actually, I find Obama to be surprisingly genuine and forthright. That's another story. Well, as I promised - here is a link to the man's website www.votepagett.com. I'm not really endorsing the guy, but I don't think he'd do any worse a job, than anyone else representing Tennessee. At least he did listen attentively to what I said about homelessness. Now, if he gets the job, and if he actually does something to improve the lot of homeless people, then I'll endorse the guy for his second term.

Now, back to Second Life. If you go there and sign up for a premium account, please use my screen name, Rez Messing, as your referrer, and I'll get a little bonus. It's already happened once. And it will help my homeless advocacy there. And when in Second Life - do a search of "homeless" and you'll find me. So far, I'm up near the top of the page under that search term. I call my little piece of virtual real estate, "The Homeless Guy's Hideout." Not only is that my base of operations in SL, I'm also building a store there. You can also support my homeless advocacy by making a purchase in the store - the proceeds will help me continue on.

I hope you're have a great Summer!

(sending love to my children)

Kevin

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Need Help?

As part of my job hunt, I reckon I could use this blog some. And, especially in the homeless and nonprofit sector, I would like to work doing public relations, although I would be willing to do just about anything.

If you feel the homeless are lacking the proper voice and representation in your neck of the woods, you could hire me to do that. And, yes, that means that I would be willing to relocate - especially to a location near the ocean. Any ocean would be fine with me. Homeless people are everywhere.

Know of a job I would be good for? Shoot me an email. Hire me !!!

Sometimes I Doubt

There are times when I doubt if blogging has really been worth my time and effort - and then I get an email like this, and I no longer doubt. In fact I feel encouraged, and feel hopeful for the future.

Mr. Barbieux,

Like the subject of this email says, this message is a long time coming. I probably should have written it earlier, but either way, I just wanted to let you know how much of an impact your blog has had on my life as a whole.

I began reading your blog about two years ago when I saw an article about it on the Wired website (I'm pretty sure that's what it was). I spent that summer reading through the archives and everything, just soaking in information. Homelessness has always been a subject that intrigued me. Being part of an immigrant family, my parents always told me they moved to the US because the opportunities are endless here, so, especially as a little kid on trips to New York, it confused me to see people out on the street. In any case, when I first found your site, I was going to be a sophomore, majoring in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. I had plans to eventually work for Lockheed Martin, where I was interning at the time, and one day become an astronaut. Your blog had a hand in drastically changing that.

As the following semester progressed, I started to dislike my engineering work more and more. I didn't really take any joy in doing all the math and physics problems and by the end of those three months, I knew that I wouldn't be able to pursue a career in this field and be happy. So I began to question, over and over, what it was that would make me happy, and everytime I came up with the idea of helping people. Still, I ended up changing my major to Business Management and Marketing. Like Aerospace Engineering, this didn't work out, mainly because I couldn't see myself being happy with it for the rest of my life.

Which brings me to now- I'm majoring in Political Science, hoping to go to Law School in about a year. From there I want to be able to, well, help people. Specifically (and I know this is a lofty goal), I want to see the day that the homeless folks in New Orleans don't have to worry about having a safe, private place to stay. I want to see different options and avenues open to them to make sure that they have a roof over their heads. In addition to my internship with Lockheed, I'm currently in contact with a group called Stand Up for Kids, who are dedicated with reaching out to homeless kids to get them off the streets.

So anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the new perspective your blog has given me and really encourage you to keep going. You're doing something great.

H.F.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Honor Is All Mine

I just received a copy of the book,
Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar & Grill.

In the acknowledgments is written, "This book began when I ran across a blog by Kevin Barbieux, aka "The Homeless Guy". Although this work is not about him, I was so moved by his plight that I felt compelled to write about homeless people in Florida..."

There is another acknowledgment to country singer and movie star Dwight Yoakam, ("Sling Blade"), whom I believe has optioned one of her books for a movie. So, I'm guessing that Dwight Yoakam might have read this blog. I'm feeling some cool vibes about that. I once worked as a valet at the Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel, where I had the honor of parking and delivering his car for him. Yes, he tipped well.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sorry To Keep You Hanging

Just want you to know that I don't have a job, yet. I'm still working on it. No doubt, it will happen! Thanks for all your prayers and other good thoughts on my behalf.

Associated Content Came Through

Wow, Associated Content actually published the article I sent them a couple weeks ago. And they paid me a whopping $4.13 for it. Yet for every 1000 clicks on that article, I'll get an additional $1.50. So, get to clicking please!

You can read this article, which I admit is pretty awful, grammatically, at
Five Things Everyone Should Know About Homelessness.

The Long And Winding Road

No one becomes homeless overnight, and so it should be understood that leaving homelessness doesn't happen overnight either.

It is a long and painful journey that leads to homelessness, whereby a person loses all their resources, and all their associations with others whom might help them stay out of homelessness. Generally, homelessness is the result of a great amount of personal loss. So, many homeless people end up on the streets after a divorce, or after the death of a loved one, especially a child of their's has died. For many others, their mental illness is not recognized as such by friends and family, and they assume the actions of the mentally ill person to be a personal affront. And, instead of feeling compassion towards this person, and seeking help for him or her, they disassociate themselves from this person.

My own personal mental illnesses led me to do things that my parents and other family members took as personal offenses. They believed I was doing these things purposely and with malice towards them, which was not the case at all, buy yet they were quick to rid themselves of me, instead of seeking help for me. And this more than anything else, opened the door to my first homeless experience.

Its seems odd to me, but when I did something like attempt suicide, my parents somehow twisted it into something that I was doing to them. They didn't consider the anguish I must have been going through to want to kill myself. Instead, they only concerned themselves with how this action affected them.

And so it strikes me funny, how there is all this misery on the streets, all these homeless people suffering from the worst conditions, and we have all these wealthy and relatively healthy people living in luxury condos in downtown, and all they ever talk about is how homelessness is a detriment to them - how having homeless people near their homes negatively affects their own downtown living experience.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Concession

I know that this may be starting to pain some ears, but I find myself more needy than ever, as I make this attempt at life of the "average joe." I will most gratefully accept any and all donations - of every form - so to maintain this new plateau, until I find a way to maintain it myself. Food, clothing, some furniture, financial - I will accept it all with gratitude and humility.

Thank you so much for all you have already done for me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why Must There Be Animosity Between Homeless and Homed People?

This comment just came across the wire - I'm diggin' it.

I work with homeless people with severe and persistent mental illness and previously worked for several years in a homeless drop in center, where both short and long term homeless come to get in from the street.

What on EARTH makes anyone think that panhandling is easy? Would you find it easy, or would you find it humiliating, demeaning, and exhausting to hear no after no after no, to be yelled at and spit at and insulted?

The problems you all are describing in Nashville are very similar to the ones we're having in Kansas City, with new development bumping up against a long standing homeless population.

Fortunately, in Kansas City there is a Homeless Coalition made up of business owners, downtown residents, outreach workers, homeless and formerly homeless people, and other support people, who work very hard to figure out solutions that work for everyone. No, it's not perfect, but it sure is a whole lot better than everyone sniping at each other and generalizing and assuming that the people on the other end of the equation are dealing falsely.

In three years in the field, I have not yet met a lazy homeless person. I have met homeless people with major depressive illness and anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, all of which have avolition (which means, more or less, inability to "get moving") as part of their symptoms, and I have met people who have simply given up on being able to find anything other than panhandling and day labor to support themselves, but no, it's literally impossible to be a "lazy homeless person". The lifestyle doesn't allow it.

Educate yourself. (Sorry, Kevin, for ranting in your blog)

Friday, June 13, 2008

The SLurl

You can find me on Second Life at this url Jonathan Livingston Seagull (JLS is my hero)

Another Friday

The Weekend is upon us. And so we must think of how best to spend our time. I know, lets walk around town and see how many homeless people there are, and then bitch and complain about their existence. Hmmmm, let's see, I have enough money to buy a luxury loft in Downtown - I have a nice car - I could take off for the weekend - get away from it all - see the sights - visit family. Or, I could go shopping for some nice things for my new place, rent some movies and watch them on my flat screen tv. NAW, I think I'd rather stir up trouble with the homeless! I am such a fine young fellow, don't you think?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fingers Crossed

Well, I will interview for a job, tomorrow. If all goes well, and I'm hired, I will go to "orientation" on Monday, and being working Tuesday. Can you say, "Amen"?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Once In A Life Time Offer

Hello all you people.

Are you tired of my blog? Do you hate the things I espouse here? Do you feel it's causing a burden, or hindrance to the economic growth of Nashville and the prosperity of Nashvillians, in General? Do you wish this blog would just go away?

Well, here's your chance to make that happen. You can buy me out.

For a significant, and I really mean "significant," price, I will stop blogging about homelessness - completely, and forever.

And, for a decent yearly income, a nice middle management type of income, I would use my extensive internet skills and resources to promote Nashville, and all it's glorious potential.

What do you say? Nashville Downtown Partnership? Urban Resident's Association? Other interested parties?

Make me an offer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Thanks

My financial crisis has been averted.

Commenter Replies And Proves His Ignorance

So he, (or perhaps it's a she), has come back for more. Just another day of school for this person. Here is his reply:

Comment:
Funny how you think money solves all problems. Since this is TN, perhaps volunteering your apartment address for the Christian groups to drop off their food donations would be the answer. I'll make a deal with you. You volunteer your home address and I'll print up flyers and work with the Christian groups to make your apartment "homeless central" for food donations. This is a WIN-WIN situation. You WIN because your friends are fed and I WIN because the homeless aren't hanging around downtown so much. You don't mind homeless hanging around your place all day do you? Thanks...Also heres my PAYPAY account: dennick@yahoo.com Once you're ahead for the month, can you send me a $5.00 to cover copying cost? Thanks!


My Response: Boy, I wish I had more time today to respond to this. We'll see how much I can get in here.

I have noticed, since the beginning of this past Republican reign, that the Republicans would quickly accuse non-Republicans of the very things Republicans are doing. When the Republicans began rewriting history to serve their own purposes, the first thing they did, before they could be called on it, was to claim that the Democrats were revisionists. It's a nifty little trick. Especially when there is no way for Democrats to respond immediately and in kind, to the facts. But you see, in the blogging world, things work a little differently. My response is allowed to be more timely. And I am allowed the time and space to hash out all the facts pertinent to the issue.

The very first thing out of the mouth, (or computer) of our commenter, is the statement, "Funny how you think money solves all problems." My goodness, how wrong, and reversed, is that from the actual truth. Is it not the people who horde money, who have more money than they know what to do with, who, instead of being frugal, buy property for the status it brings. Is that not why people buy "luxury" condos and other property downtown? Sure it is. To these people, it's all about the Benjamins.

My only comment on money in the previous post was to show that money could be better spent. It is the Downtown Partnership, and the Urban Residents Association, who are spending a great deal of money hiring off duty police officers and security guards to chase, and hopefully harass the homeless out of downtown. And believe me, it adds up to a whole lot of money. If it is any one, or group, who things that money can solve their issues with the homeless, it's these people. Oh, there is nothing like the accuser being guilty of the crime he accuses another of.

All I suggest is that these groups spend their money more wisely. Certainly the same amount of money used to cure homelessness would be a better use of that money than just trying to chase the homeless away. Noted author, Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote, "The Tipping Point," also wrote and article talking about how it just may be easier to cure homelessness, than just manage it.

Malcolm Gladwell

Further on, our commenter, almost threateningly, beckons me to allow Churches to bring food to the homeless in front of my apartment - something to which our commenter would gladly support. Well, what our commenter doesn't know (and there is a lot that he doesn't know) is that Church groups do in fact bring food to my apartment complex. You see, I am staying in a small apartment building that is part of Nashville's pilot Housing First project. (Google "Housing First" to get more information on that.) And my apartment building is close enough downtown that occasionally, panhandlers come by. I still get panhandled, as I have always been panhandled - it's not a problem for me. I just tell them "no" and go about my business.

The really important point, that our commenter continues to miss, is that homeless people are not attracted to certain areas based on what food, or other freebies are made available to them. I understand that that may be a difficult concept for some people to get, but it's the truth. What actually happens is that some organization, usually a church, reads their Bible, prays to God, and comes to the realization that God wants them to feed and clothe the poor and homeless. So, they strike out in search of the homeless, and find the homeless in the downtown areas. Church groups didn't just set up shop in downtown and wait to see if any poor and homeless would find them there. The poor and homeless came first. Just look at how Nashville's rescue mission got started. Some traveling preacher came to Nashville, saw the homeless on the streets, and gave a donation to start the mission. See? The homeless were already in downtown, before anyone came to give food and shelter to them. And that's the way it's always been. If these church groups went out to some place where there were no homeless, the homeless would never find them. Kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

And our commenters final contribution is the temporary offer of helping advertise, by way of flyers, where the food would be offered, away from his place. Well, again, our commenter proves that he doesn't understand the minds of homeless people. For all the flyers and posters in downtown, encouraging people to not give to panhandlers, and all the little hand outs with lists of homeless service providers, that luxury loft owners hand out to people who panhandle them, after all that "advertising" panhandling is still alive and well in downtown Nashville.

You, after all is said and done, homeless people are going to do whatever they want to do, regardless of what society desires. Homeless people exist outside of society - society rejects the homeless, so the homeless reject society. Homeless people just don't give a damn about Mr Commenter, about his money, his ego, or his desire to have a Disney-esque downtown experience.

My advice to our commenter, and all downtown luxury loft owners, is to start caring about the homeless - when and if that ever happens, they just may see the homeless starting to care about them.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Straight Up Panhandling, Without The Pan

So, I miss calculated. Now I'm short by about 10 bucks for a bill that I need to pay on Tuesday, or else. The "or else" part is that they start adding 5 dollars per day that the payment is late. If anyone reading this could help me out here, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I was banking on the promise of Associated Content actually doing what they said, and reviewing and paying me for articles, "within one week of submission." They haven't done that, so I stuck and unable to count on them for income - kinda like what happened last time I tried working with them.

If you are of a mind to help out, just use the paypal link and everything will be back on track. (it is no longer required to sign up for a paypal account to send money through them, just a credit card)

Please,
And Thank You, for your consideration.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Silly Questions

I get a lot of good questions. And when possible I answer them. But, there are people out there who attempt to disprove my ideas - to pose seemingly innocent questions, but are actually full of so much....oh, what's the word? (they are called "loaded questions") They aren't legitimate questions, but questions that are supposed to trip me up, and throw off my rationale for the things I say and do. They are an attempt to make me look like a hypocrite. I'm not saying I'm Jesus, but Jesus did receive the same kinds of questions. Ya know? But Jesus always had a good comeback - especially because he understood the nature of the question - the nature of the heart behind the question - the real reason why the question was being asked. And he easily, and quickly put those people in their place.

I admit that at first I didn't understand some of the issues and questions posed by these people. It's taken me a while to figure them out. But figure them out, I have. And, over time, I've learned how to respond.

The following is one such question. The author of the question assumes he already knows the right answer to the question, and assumes that I will agree with him, if I am truly honest. But there is something fundamentally wrong with the assumptions within the question, and the mindset that gave birth to it. Ah....without further adieu...the question, and my answer:

Q: Now that you have a home, would you mind if people less fortunate than you (the other Nashville homeless and street drunks), lingered around your apartment and begged for donations? Are you such a homeless advocate that you would be willing to allow ALL the church organizations to hand out their free food in front of you new home?

A: Well, I can only assume that this question comes from someone who has bought property in the downtown area, where these issues have been made prominent. Or, at the least, an advocate for those people who bought property downtown.

It seems silly to me that I have to resort to answering this question on a less than mature level, because this person seems to not understand even the basics of good money management, real estate investment, or citizenship.

One would think that a person with enough money to buy a luxury condo or apartment downtown would know how best to manage their money, especially in regards to their own personal interests and desires.

The top three considerations when buying any property is LOCATION, LOCATION, and LOCATION. Geez, that's such a basic, elementary concept - for the life of me I don't understand why seemingly intelligent, educated, financially secure people don't "get" that.

When I bought my first house, my wife and I looked at many many houses, all over town, and the most important thing for us to consider was the neighborhood in which the house was located. How close was it to family and schools and stores? and the type of neighbors. Who would be our neighbors. Not only did we look inside each house for what it offered, we also drove around the neighborhood of each house and considered who we would be moving next to - were the people in the other houses our age, with similar likes and dislikes - were their children in the neighborhood the same age as our kids, etc. We considered these things because compatibility with the existing neighborhood is important to enjoying one's property. Most importantly, if the house we were considering buying was great, but we didn't fit the neighborhood, then we passed on that house.

And I think that's the crux of a lot of the issue with the people who recently bought into the downtown area. They only considered the property, and not the neighborhood - at least not the whole neighborhood. Homeless people, drunks, mentally ill people, and the charities that serve them have ALWAYS been downtown. And not just Nashville, but in every metropolitan area since THE BEGINNING OF FRIGGIN' TIME. There have always been homeless people, and homeless people have always gravitated towards the center of civic activities. So, it is really hard for me to believe that anyone moved into the downtown area of Nashville, (and other cities in the country) without knowing that homeless people already existed there.

So, then, what was their thinking when they bought their luxury downtown property? I have no doubt that certain promises were made or implied by the developers and others, that measures would be taken to drive the homeless out of downtown. And these luxury loft purchasers actually believed that the homeless could be moved out of downtown. Sorry, you just can't erase several millennium of social evolution with a couple city ordinances.

But more directly to the question. (Believe me I could write on this subject for a very long time.) I rent the place I own, but even if I bought the property I'm at, the situation would not be any different.

This doesn't apply just to me but to everyone: (I'll type it big so to make sure you don't miss it) YOU ONLY HAVE CONTROL OVER THE PROPERTY YOU OWN, AND NOTHING MORE!

Just because you bought a house on a particular street does not mean that you also own that street. Just because you bought a house a block from a park does not mean that you now own the park. And neither does this give you the right to control anything that happens in that park, or what other people do within that park - or street or sidewalk - or anything else. You certainly don't have the right to tell you neighbors how to live, or what they can or cannot do with their own property, or how they make use of the streets or parks or other city owned property.

Even if you have a problem with what happens in the neighborhood you bought into, it's a moot point. It's your own fault for moving somewhere where you don't fit in, or don't like what your recently acquired neighbors do. You should have considered all that before you moved in.

Now, for my own ideas about my own property? I ascribe to the age old philosophy of "caring and sharing". It was something my children were taught in pre-school. It's something that is taught in Church - the idea is taught in both old and new testaments. It's all about caring about your nieghbor, treating your neighbor like you would treat yourself, and sharing all that you have with others, especially others who aren't as fortunate as you. You bet, I'd have absolutely no problem with truck load after truck load of people coming to feed and clothe and otherwise help the homeless in my front yard - if I had a front yard. And I wouldn't care if it were Crazy Christians or Athiest Hippies doing it. And if the drunks want to panhandle me every time I step out of my front door, that's ok. No, they wouldn't get anything from me that way, but that's beside the point. With every encounter with a panhandler, we have the opportunity to help them find a better way. You see, nothing is a nuisance, unless you make it out to be a nuisance. And what is, or is not, a nuisance, depends entirely on your view of life, and what you think is actually important.

It is odd, though, that with all the money that the Downtown Partnership, and the Urban Residents Association, have spent trying to chase away the homeless, (and failing miserably at that) they could have built a proper facility for the homeless, that would have given the homeless real options, and real solutions to their problems, besides panhandling and hanging out downtown.

Yet Another City Loses Suit By Homeless People

FRESNO, Calif. — Several Fresno homeless people who claimed their belongings were wrongfully seized and destroyed in raids on their camps have reached a $2.3 million settlement with the city and state.

The proposed settlement filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fresno calls for the city to pay the eight plaintiffs and any others who qualify under the class action suit $1.4 million in cash and living allowances. The state Department of Transportation will pay an additional $85,000 in cash.

The city agreed to pay $850,000 in fees.

A federal judge ruled last month that Fresno's past policy of sending city workers to raid homeless camps and destroy personal property violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Today's Email Bag

I checked her out, and she is legit. Her books are even on Amazon.com, and are ranked relatively high. She is listed as "N.M. Kelby." I am honored by this. Murder At The Bad Girl's Bar and Grill

Dear Mr. Barbieux,

I just wanted you to know that you and your blog have inspired me.

My new book, Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar and Grill (Shaye Areheart Books) is a "tiki-styled retelling of Macbeth set in south Florida." The story centers around the "death" of a homeless advocate named Peter Mackay who has a blog called www.thehomelesssoul.com.

While the book is funny, it's also deeply rooted in tragedy.

After reading your blog, I wanted more people to know about the life of the homeless in America today. And so, I credit you in the acknowledgments. And, if you go to Peter's website www.thehomelesssoul.com, you'll see a link to your site.

I hope this helps shed more light on your mission. Homelessness in America is very difficult to understand. I'm hoping more people will take the time to read your blog and figure out how they can help make change. My husband and I donate to Catholic Charities and Goodwill, but that sometimes feels as if it's just a small token gesture given the profound difficulty of the problem. So, I'm hoping that this book will help in some way.

I'd like to send a copy to you. Should I use the General Delivery address on your website?

Once again, so many thanks. I wish you well. I'm glad things are going better for you right now. Sleep is always good.

Best wishes,

Nicole Mary Kelby

Africans call it ununtu botho (ooh-noon-to boo-to). It means the essence of being human. It speaks about humanness, gentleness, hospitality, putting yourself out on behalf of others, being vulnerable. It recognizes that my humanity is bound in yours, for we can only be human together.-Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

www.nmkelby.com

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Your classic anti-hero story, where the bad guy becomes the hero. And, as you would assume there would be heroes, such as in the nursing profession, we learn that that is not always the case.

And oh how similar this movie is to homelessness, a bunch of crazy people, who, because they are crazy, actually choose to be where they are, and some criminal element, who thinks that hanging out with the crazies will actually get him out of paying his debt to society, are all locked up together, living in very close proximity to each other.

Yes, the crazies in the mental hospital choose to be there, but of course, would they choose to be there if they weren't crazy? And this gets us thinking about the hero of the story. Is he just purely criminal, or does he have mental issues of his own? He definitely skirts on the periphery of society, and exhibits marginally acceptable behavior. But he doesn't quite fit in with the mentally ill either. Some would say he's just being rebellious. Of course this would beg the question - why is he so rebellious?

Then, in walks nurse Ratched. The professional woman with a heart for the less fortunate, who takes care of those whom no one else would bother with. She is organized, and gets the job done. The patents don't cause much of any fuss, they all take their medications, as proscribed by the doctor, and as directed by the nurse. And yet, she is the "bad guy" of this movie. Why? Oh, that is a good question.

In the movie we never really see what motivates her, although we can plainly see that she does not like having her authority challenged. But look who she has authority over - a bunch of crazy people. Not a very glamorous job really. She's the bigger fish, in a pond of much smaller and fragile fish. Pretty easy to dominate these folks. It doesn't take long for that kind of position to go to one's head. Especially, when in the context of the entire world, the nurse really isn't anyone special.

For the crazies, it's easy to see why they would be submissive to her. She is the only one caring for them - and they need care. On the other side, her professional cohorts are just glad that she is there doing the work that they don't want to deal with themselves. She is below the status of the Doctor, though she does supervise some junior nurses - to them it's just a job. They do what they are told, and go home at the end of the day.

Some people become police officers because being a cop helps them cope with an inferiority complex. As a cop they get a sense of control, and even superiority, over the world that scares them. Yet, not many people would want to be a cop, having to deal with the ugly side of society on a daily basis. And so they are glad for the person who becomes the cop, and they give him a lot of credit, and leeway, in the actions of his duties. So, the cop accidentally beats up the wrong guy, or gets all upset and beats up someone excessively? Society gives the cop a pass. It's a tough job, and we'd all rather someone else do it.

And what about some of the people who work at homeless shelters? Are they all really Florence Nightingales? Mother Teresas? Could they all be so altruistic?

It is true, that homeless shelters seem not unlike human cesspools. The rejects and misfits of society, the mentally ill and the developmentally challenged, the retarded, the schizophrenic, the hopelessly addicted and alcoholic, are all corralled into these relatively few and unhappy places. Some one must do the work of maintaining these places.

But, who would want to do such work? Aren't you glad that someone else is doing it? What amount of leeway would you give to the person actually doing that work. Would you even bother to supervise and oversee what they do? Or would you just be grateful that someone else is doing it, and would allow them to do it as they see fit? and, accept their reports of life in the shelter without question?

Sometimes the people employed in homeless shelters do bad things to the homeless - and they are allowed to get away with it. The homeless are afraid to stand up for themselves, and to pursue a grievance complaint, because the people they report on will most likely be allowed to retaliate. Other homeless people will know that filing a grievance report against someone who has wronged them is a waste of time. And that seeking justice will not change anything. I mean, really. Who is going to take the word of some crazy homeless person over an employee of a homeless shelter?

Oh, and this idea that homeless people have become homeless and have problems getting along in this world because they refuse to choose a proper relationship with Jesus Christ? What a bunch of horse manure. The last people that society should choose to operate homeless shelters are Christian fundamentalists. But guess what? They are just about the only people willing to do that kind of work. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ahhhh Sleep.....

Like I always complained of a lack of sleep. You bet I did. Depriving a person of enough sleep is a tool of interrogators and other torturers. From a combination of my sleep apnea, and of living in shelters that don't allow a person enough time and comfort to sleep, and sleep well, I felt like a walking zombie most of the time. But, another benefit of having my new place is that I feel more rested than I have since...well, since my last apartment I had three years ago.

This doesn't mean that I'm full of energy, I'm still grossly out of shape. But I'm not falling asleep while at the computer or reading a book, or during another other normal awake time.

So, next will be the start of getting fit - or at least fitter. I walk a minimum of 2 miles a day, just getting to the places I need to get to, but I will try to walk more, just for the sake of exercise. I'm also eating less, yet better quality food. So, once I've lost enough weight, I'll start jogging as well. I would still like to try the Country Music Marathon - 1/2 marathon, which will take place in 10 months from now. That should be plenty enough time to get in shape. My knees, my hip all hurt, so I'll have to see about them. Hopefully a better diet and exercise regiment will help them to heal.

Even my teeth are in better shape now. When homeless, a person cannot take care of much of anything like he should, like brushing his teeth regularly. But now I can, and now my teeth and gums feel healthier, and stronger.

Like the National Health Care for The Homeless Council says, a homeless person has the life expectancy of age 56, which proves how much the homeless life wears a person down. Now, I'm on the mend. Thanks to all to all of you, and the support you've given me to get to this point.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hello, Anyone Home???

Ok folks. It's been a month now, that I've been off the streets !!!!!

YAY !!!

They say that if you do anything every day for more than 21 days that it becomes habit. Well, lets hope this habit sticks - this habit of having a home.

I'm pretty much adjusted to it now. There is always that period after leaving homelessness, when a person feels a bit depressed and actually misses the old ways, but I've now passed that, and am feeling pretty good.

I sent an article to Associated Content for possible payment. Hopefully they will accept it. And will pay me for it. The last time I submitted an article to AC, they declined it. That was a downer, and I gave up on them. Well, as I most definitely need to make money to maintain my place, I have to keep working with AC and make it happen, whatever it takes. As I have taken on more, I am obliged to raise a minimum of $200 a month, just to make it through to the next month. It can happen. I know of others who have made that much money with AC. Getting enough food to eat for the month is another story.

I've tried with before, with limited success, but it would be worth another try. I'm declaring June as "take-a-homeless-person-to-lunch month". Anyone wishing to take me out to lunch may do so. In exchange I offer my witty repartee, and sincere appreciation. I would also like to hold a food drive on my behalf. Canned goods are good. Parishables and non-parishables are welcomed. Anything you've got in the pantry that you probably won't eat, I'll take it. Just email me and we'll arrange delivery. thanks.

You can still find me most days logged into Second Life as "Rez Messing." Come by and say hello. I'm always up for a visit. We can talk about whatever.