Monday, October 31, 2011

Aspergers Is A Life In Extreme Pt 1

The brain of a person of Asperger's Syndrome does not function like that of a typical person's brain. I understand this is difficult for some people to understand. But, when you consider the human body, it's obvious that, although we all have similarities, two eyes one nose, etc, they are actually different. Some function better than others, and the slight differences make a difference. Yes, you can sometimes find a short person who excels at Basketball, the truth is, taller people are better at the game than short people. Some people can eat anything and everything they want and never gain weight, yet others can eat much less and still become over-weight, etc. We are different.

Most people are born with bone structures that, although different in their own way, are correctly formed. Yet there are people whose bones grow crooked. There is a basic structure of the human body, within which there are infinite variables. But beyond that there are many many people whose bodies do not grow as designed. I have scoliosis. It is minor in comparison to some people's, but it still affects my life.

My spine twists in at least 4 different points, from my neck to my tail bone.  My shoulders are offset because of it, my pelvis is offset as well.  The padding between some of my vertebrae is missing and the vertebrae have thus fussed together.  There's also a good bit of arthritis on my spine as well.  For all of this I cannot walk or run or swim as far or as fast as most people under normal circumstances.  Sitting or standing for more than an hour at a time will cause back pain.   Throwing a ball accurately or with much speed is difficult.  Before I was aware of my scoliosis, I became interested in weight lifting, but I soon noticed that my muscles were developing unevenly, throwing off my posture even more than it was before.

Scoliosis was something I was born with.  It was certainly something I did not choose for myself.   Asperger's Syndrome is also something I was born with, and did not choose for myself.   Still, there are people who are dismissive about people's difficulties with life as a result of their brain differences. They admit the defects they can easily see, like physical deformities, but they seem to not comprehend anything beyond that, such as the differences in people's brains. Those dismissive people say things like "they choose to be that way, they could change if they really wanted to."  Obviously they don't want to admit that some people's problems really are beyond their control.   I think it has something to do with rejecting the necessity of sympathy.  Having to respect other people's differences often means having to give other people's needs priority.   In the highly competitive culture we live in, sympathy for others is considered a detriment.  For this, many people deny the reality that others have to live with.   This denial only makes life more difficult for everyone.

I have seen first hand that many homeless people have symptoms of Aspergers, and I credit Aspergers as the main cause of my homelessness. But other's have responded saying that I am only using Aspergers as an excuse for my homelessness.  Among those was the director of the local rescue mission.   To him, homelessness is a result of sin.  Still, he can't see anything beyond the sin paradigm.   Bad things happen to you because you sin, good things happen to you because you don't sin.  Sure, this is inaccurate, illogical and shallow thinking.  But because he has achieved a position of authority, he believes himself correct, his opinion carries weight with other people.  He says that because he knows of people with Aspergers who have never been homeless, that Asperger's cannot be a cause of homelessness.   In my next post I'll answer that posit.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tony

Just got some sad news. Tony, a homeless man in Toronto, and the subject of the very popular blog, homelessmanspeaks.com, passed away last week. The blog was a clever bit of writing. Just a few words, a bit of conversation between the blog's writer, and Tony. Sometimes funny, sometimes wise, usually something profound. The blog started 5 years ago, and has maintained a steady following ever since. Homeless Man Speaks

Human Conditioning And Homelessness

Most everyone knows abut Ivan Pavlov and his dogs, and the psychological study of conditioning and involuntary reflex actions. Each time that Pavlov fed his dogs, he would ring a bell. He did this so often that eventually he could ring the bell, but withhold the food, and yet his dogs would salivate anyway.

On yesterday's episode of "Anderson" (yes, it appears that Anderson Cooper has sold out to daytime television), he showed an experiment done on humans. Several people were shown a short video of someone being murdered. The death was a fake but the people in the study did not know that. They were even told that it was a real event. At the end of the the video there appeared a photograph of a rose. The people who watched this video were also hooked up to a machine that monitored their vitals, like blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration, etc. The machine proved that each time the video was shown, the people viewing it had a physical reaction. They were shown the video several times, each time with the picture of the rose at the end of it. Eventually, when the were shown only the photograph of a rose, they had the same physical reaction as if they had seen the murder video.

These experiments prove that conditioning happens, even to humans.

Take for instance a young person who was beaten regularly and excessively by his/her father during childhood. This child will then grow up as an adult believing, not only that such behavior is normal, but also expected. This may very well lead these people toward a life of violence. Or, may very well lead them to look for an abusive significant other to have a relationship with. We often call this type of behavior cyclical, but really, it's just the conditioning a person has been under for so long, that leads to it.

Because we are all constantly being conditioned to one thing or another, a person's behavior and reactions to life's many and varied experiences is not so easily self controlled.

I bring this up in answer to what is often an excuse in denying help to those in need. We hear a lot of talk about "Self Reliance" and "Personal Responsibility." Those are all great things that we should all aspire to, but achieving these goals is not like some light switch that can flipped on and off. They are things that we must, like everything else, be conditioned to. And we must admit that not everyone has had the luxury of being raised by people who know how to set a good example.

People who are less fortunate are conditioned towards poverty and failure. It happens first by their own family and others responsible for their raising. Then it happens again in adult life by the more successful people who, instead of positively inspiring the less fortunate, turn on them, the poor and unsuccessful, with contempt, and insults, and creating additional obstacles that hinder success for those who have yet to achieve it.

Everyone who refuses to give a hand up to those in need is just as guilty of causing the conditions that lead to failure as anyone.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hiring Graphic Designer

The Contributor, Nashville's homeless/street newspaper is hiring:

The Contributor is seeking a contract graphic designer for design and layout of 16-24 page once-to-twice-monthly tabloid newspaper publication.

Experience Needed:
Heavy print design experience necessary (prior newspaper design a plus)
Publication page layout
Quark XPress
Adobe CS Suite

How to Apply:
1) Please send letter of interest,
2) resume (detailing above experience),
3) salary requirements (hourly and/or per-project),
4) and link to online portfolio by email to tasha@thecontributor.org no later than November 11, 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Truth Part 2

Yes, truth can be known, although finding it is difficult.   The nature of truth has been known for a very long time.  Truth is very much like light - as the New Testament metaphor points out.   Once you allow truth into your life, just like allowing light into a room, truth will spread out and illuminate everything it can reach.   For most people, that is problematic.   Usually, when people go looking for the truth, they are looking for the truth in just one aspect of life.  But, once they knock a hole into the wall the separates them from the truth, the truth does not illuminate just the area where it is desired, but it spreads out, lighting up everything, exposing everything, making everything known.  Thing is, most everyone has some aspects of their life that they wish to remain hidden.  But with truth, as with light, you cannot pick and choose where you want truth to be present.  That is, and not look like a raving lunatic, or hypocritical ass.

By a certain age, every person develops a philosophy of life that gives answers to, and justification for, the way they live.  Religions are good at prepackaging these philosophies so to make life more convenient for people.  And a lot of people are drawn to that convenience.  But everyone, religious or not, has a philosophy of  justification for the way they live.  And as people age, the many and different aspects of their lives intertwine with each other, supporting each other, justifying each other, so that the philosophy becomes a complete thought unto itself.

Yet, when a person goes in search of truth, begins to strip away their preconceived notions, and prejudices, and justifications, so to find truth, and the truth becomes known, the whole philosophy that person has lived by begins to unravel.  And in this unraveling, more and more of the hidden things in that person's life become exposed.   For most everyone, that much exposure on their lives is unbearable.   So, to stop the unraveling, they must retreat back to the justifications and self deception and denial that protected them.

As much as people know that the truth is a good thing, and should be the focus of their lives, they just can't handle it.  So, to protect certain aspects of their lives from the truth it becomes necessary for all truth to be shut out.

This also affects our relationships with each other.   As much as one person desires to keep certain aspects of their life hidden from exposure to the light, to the truth, everyone must agree to help keep those things secret, or risk having their own secrets exposed. (The threat of retaliation is very real.)   So, we have this unwritten rule in society that, so to remain in good standing with others, we must all agree to preserve each other's secrets, and lies, acts of denial and self deception.   This agreement, one to each other through out society, is a massive barrier to the truth of things.    Those who are willing to seek out the truth and tell the truth are thus often shut out, expelled and force to the fringes of society, excommunicated, etc., they are blackballed, discredited, labeled crazy or untrustworthy.

If a person wishes to live, to eat, to have a home, to make a "living," they must adopt this way of living in denial of truth and agree to the lies that the rest of  society lives by.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NASNA Conference

Sorry, I've been distracted this past week.  I attended the North American Street Newspaper Association's (nasna.org) annual conference that was held this year in Nashville.   In my own estimation, I'd say that the quality of the conference, albeit the quality of the attendees, was much improved over the last conference I attended about a decade ago.   The people running homeless/street newspapers seem more focused and more talented and more caring about the work of street papers, than in years past.  And it really shows.   Although mainstream media, and newspapers in general, are experiencing declines in readership and sales, street newspapers are experiencing unprecedented growth.  The thing is, street newsapers aren't just a product to create and sell, they are vehicles of personal and social change.   So many homeless people's lives have taken drastic turns for the better, for being involved in streetpapers.   And the content of these papers is telling the story of homelessness and poverty that isn't getting out to the public through typical media.   In streetpapers, there is hope.

Now back to blogging.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Truth

I know I've written about "truth" before but I cannot find the post.  Maybe it was only in regards to facebook, or other outlet, but regardless, I've been ruminating on "truth" this morning and thought I'd post something about it on my blog.

Truth seems like such a slippery thing, and yet we base nearly all of our actions on what we perceive to be the truth.   We use truth as our compass, guiding us through life, and yet we have such a hard time understanding it.  But this difficulty with understanding truth isn't truth's fault, it's our own.

One of the first things you'll hear, when a discussion of "truth" is begun, is that truth is subjective.   I don't find that to be true. What I find is that when people say, "the truth is subjective," they do so because there are aspects of the truth they wish to avoid.    What is subjective are people's many and varied perspectives of truth.  Truth itself is constant.  It never changes.   When people imply that truth has changed, what they are actually commenting on is their perspective of truth.

Another thing you'll hear about "truth" is that truth can never be fully known.  That I agree with.   Just as you can always divide a number by two to get a new number which is closer to zero, you can never reach zero.  The beauty of that is that new things are always being discovered, making life a perpetual adventure into the new and the heretofore unknown.   That is, if you are attempting to find the truth.

Truth is such a powerful thing, nearly everyone avoids it in one respect or another.  And where we avoid truth, we begin to run into problems.  Though we declare that it is our pursuit of truth that leads us to do the things we do, most often are actions are actually an attempt to avoid the truth.

To see "truth," a person must strip away every prejudice, every fear, every preconceived notion, and accept whatever the the truth reveals, regardless of the fear, pain, and ambiguity and uncertainty that the truth creates in regards to other aspects of their life.    As difficult as it is, this can be done, and people can get a much clearer view of the truth when they make a sincere effort to find it.   (to be continued...)

Friday, October 7, 2011

It Needs More Work

Giving it the night to ruminate on, I see that the below blog post needs more work, more explanation. After breakfast this morning I'll make some changes to it, may add a couple paragraphs for clarity.   It takes so long for new ideas to gestate, and for me to fully and accurately describe them.   Many of my blog posts change over time.   I like being honest with myself and others.   Nobody ever gets anything completely right the first time.  And only an honest person will admit that.  Still I strive to get things right, and the more effort I put into my posts here, the more correct they become.   Beware of anyone who values consistency over accuracy.  If you are wrong about something, being consistently wrong will not improve things.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Best Homeless Shelter In Nashville

Note:  I just re read this post and notice that I digress for an extended period from the subject.   If you don't want to read through all my ramblings, just know that Room In The Inn is by far the best homeless shelter in Nashville.   It's "sheltering" capacity is more limited than the rescue mission's, but what they do offer is superior in every way.

After I recently slammed the Nashville Rescue Mission for its poor performance at actually "rescuing" people from homelessness, someone asked me which homeless shelter in Nashville I thought was best.

Now before I get to my answer, there are a few things I want to discuss that are related to the subject.

First and foremost, there is an unwritten rule among homeless service providers that they will never criticize each other for the work they do. (Among members of the Association of Union Gospel Missions it actually is a written rule).  This rule is based mostly on the assumption that every person in the homeless services industry is doing the best they can, and that the only thing holding them back from doing a better job is a lack of resources, or other issues beyond their control.  But this assumption is bogus.

When taking on the responsibility of running a homeless shelter, or other service organization for the homeless, you need more than just good intentions and a willingness to work.   Homeless people are in a very fragile and precarious situation, one that could easily turn for the worse, so homeless service providers MUST  make certain that what they do for, and to, the homeless will actually help and not hurt them. This is one of the biggest problems with shelters run by fundamentalist Christians organizations.  They believe they can do no wrong. Because they do their work "in the name of God/Jesus," they believe any thing they do, will, by default, work out to the glory of God.  For these people, admitting they make mistakes with homeless people would be the same as admitting their God makes mistakes. And lord knows they'll never do that.  It's their special way of avoiding criticism.  Regardless of something going well, or not going well, they declare it "God's will."   For this, they cause many homeless people to suffer needlessly.

Secondly, people should take into consideration that I have a condition known as Asperger's Syndrome.   Asperger's Syndrome doesn't make me any less a person, but it does make me different.  And this difference is difficult for most people to understand and to come to good terms with.   Hopefully, as time moves forward, more people will come to know and understand Asperger's for what it is, and will begin to treat people with Asperger's with more acceptance.

One of the more common and yet more exasperating features of Asperger's is an apparent lack of tact in delicate situations.   People with Asperger's are much more likely to speak their minds, oblivious to any fall out for their comments, until someone complains.   There really is no more malevolence within the hearts of people with Aperger's than with other people, although it may appear so.

 To people with Asperger's, respect is synonymous with honestly.   To be honest with people, even brutally so, is the highest form of sincerity.  But for most people, people without Asperger's, respect is more synonymous with defending and protecting the feelings of others.   People with Aperger's do not perceive their honesty as being hurtful to others, at least not until after someone responds defensively to something they've said.  But by then it's too late, and the offense cannot be taken back.   Only with increased awareness of this issue and much practice, can a person with Asperger's learn to address sensitive issues more tactfully.   Still, being "tactful" does frustrate and often aggravate people with Aperger's because it feels wrong to be less than completely honest.  The idea of purposely omitting details, or telling white lies for the sake of others, does not usually occur to people with Asperger's.

More and more my own interactions with people are improving, (I've been working on it), so what little communication I engage in with people is becoming more productive. Still, being tactful requires a lot of energy on my part, and sometimes, depending on the person and situation, I may feel that a person is just not worth the extra effort, and the affect of my Asperger's hits them full force.

Society looks down on the "butt kisser." Even Shakespeare wrote about "flatterers" being despicable.  Yet society in general still expects people to play the game of saying the "nice" thing, and calling it the truth, even when deep down they know it's not.

I am also a HUGE proponent of the idea that, "the truth will set you free."  To me, truth is the most valuable gift a person can receive.  Truth is also the key to solving society's biggest problems.  There would be no science without it.  We'd still be thinking the world was flat, if we didn't value truth so highly.   When I die, I don't want people bull shitting each other about me.  It seems every one goes around saying nothing but positive things about the recently deceased.   Please don't insult my memory in that way.  I don't need anyone lying on my account. Remember me in death exactly as you experienced me in life.   I did some good things and some not so good things.  I do not pretend to be anything else other than human.

To me, the biggest problem with homeless shelters, and homeless people in general is that the truth of things is most often avoided.  So, when I talk about homeless conditions, homeless service providers, homeless people, I make a point of being honest to the fullest extent possible.  Lying about homelessness will only hamper efforts to end homelessness.

With all the build up here, I'd imagine you readers would be expecting a huge statement about conditions at Nashville's shelters.  But I'm gonna try to make this short and concise.

Although they are just across the street from each other, the two major shelters for homeless people in Nashville couldn't be more different.  On one side of the street is the Nashville Rescue Mission, on the other side is Room In The Inn.   Although they offer many of the same services, it's their different approaches to these services that sets them apart.    I have ruminated over this difference for years, and have described it in different ways.  But just this morning it hit me, the most exact description of the difference between the two that I've come up with yet.

The Nashville Rescue Mission operates on an Old Testament paradigm, and Room In the Inn operates on a New Testament paradigm.   Whereas the rescue mission sees homelessness as a sin, and those who commit this sin need to be punished, Room In The Inn focuses not on any supposed "sin" of homelessness but instead responds to all homeless people with forgiveness and Grace.   I believe that is why most homeless people respond more favorably to Room In The Inn than the mission, and why Room In The Inn is more successful in helping people overcome homelessness.   Yes, there are some few homeless people who will defend the practices of the Nashville Rescue Mission.  But as the saying goes, there's no accounting for taste.

(A side note: The Salvation Army in Nashville doesn't come into consideration because they really aren't focused on helping the homeless as much as they used to be.  It's been a very long time since I stayed at their shelter, which at the time was located a block away from the old rescue mission.  It was there at that Sally where I had my first close encounter with a cockroach.  It walked across my face as I slept.  I could feel it, and it woke me up.  Now, the Salvation Army is working to prevent poor people from becoming homeless.   Looking at their website, they don't even address homelessness, not even alcoholism, something which one would think synonymous with the organization.  Nowadays they focus their efforts on helping disfunctional families, and teaching life skills, and running a food pantry.  Their work is important, but it's not so much about   homeless people anymore.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homeless People Are Everywhere

I was recently reminded about the misconception that homeless people gather around homeless services.   I haven't been to church in a long time, but I went this past Sunday.   The Sunday School class that morning was discussing the homeless ministries the church was involved with, which seemed rather fortuitous to me, being a subject I am somewhat familiar with.

As often happens in these discussions, the subject of where the homeless choose to be homeless, comes up.  One person brought up San Diego, and said that the weather there certainly must be attracting a lot of homeless people.  But then another person countered that Seattle has a large homeless population and the weather there is less than ideal.   So then it was mentioned that Seattle must have good social services for the homeless, and that must be what is attracting homeless people there.  But then it was brought up that Nashville also has good services for the homeless, yet Nashville does not have nearly the homeless population that Seattle has.

I think it's important to note that people who comment on the quality of homeless services really don't know what they are talking about.   They only know about homeless services as they are relayed to them from a third party.  They don't actually take a first hand look at the services provided for the homeless, neither do they take the time to determine if the services described to them are real or exaggerated, or if they are actually meeting the needs of the homeless.   Most people don't really know what it is that homeless people need.  So, their assessment of services, especially comparing one place to another, is factually baseless.  They just don't know what they are talking about.

The idea that homeless people gather around homeless services is disproved easily enough, whenever anyone is motivated to do so.   Most people don't want to hear about such things though, because they don't want to believe such things.  They hide from the truth of the matter.

I think the best example of this took place a few years ago when a women in an upscale New England community decided to take a look around her neighborhood for any homeless people that she might be able to help.   She had already checked with her local churches and city officials who confidently declared that their neighborhood of upper income people, living in relatively expensive homes, could not possibly have any homeless people within it.  But she wanted to see for herself.  So she went walking around in areas most people did not tread, following old train tracks, going under highway bridges and overpasses.

Yes, she found homeless people.  Many homeless people.   The homeless knew that they were not welcomed in that neighborhood, and that there were no homeless service providers in the area, so they remained well hidden as a matter of survival.

This woman, with a heart for the homeless, and knowing that there was a need that already existed, opened her home to these homeless people in her area.  She fed them.  Allowed them to use her bathroom and shower.  Let them use her washing machine and dryer.  She let them use her phone.   She had a barn on her property and allowed several homeless people to live in it as shelter against the harsh New England winter.  She helped several of them get jobs.  She provided them with transportation to their jobs.

Then her neighbors noticed the homeless people going to and from her home.  And they did not like it.  They did not like that homeless people were walking down the sidewalks on their streets.   Homeless people had not done that before.  It scared them, and they wanted her to stop what she was doing for the homeless.

Well, after a long and exhaustive battle with her neighborhood and her city officials, she was forced to stop helping the homeless.   None of the objections people gave against her helping the homeless were legitimate.  But that didn't matter.   Influence, money, power, prestige  were ultimately deemed more important than helping homeless people.  Her neighbors believe that they got the homeless people to go away, but really they just forced the homeless back into their usual hiding places.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thought For The Day

You are in the minority, you wealthy people who care enough about the world to do something about it.  But, you know it's the right thing to do, a good thing to do, to donate a portion of your income to charitable causes.   It may very well be that you give a monthly donation of say 500 dollars to your local homeless shelter.   That awesome.  Thank you for that.

Now if I could get you to think about it a little differently for a moment.    You make money cause that's what you know.  You are good at it, and your success with money and the good you can do with it makes you happy.   So, perhaps you make 100 dollars per hour.   Time is money, of course.  So, what if, instead of giving the money to the homeless shelter, you instead spent 5 hours volunteering at the shelter.

I know the biggest problem with doing that is because homeless shelters are a bit out of your league.  You're not sure how or what to do with homeless people.  Working with homeless people is not what you consider to be in your skill set.   Well, no one has those skills when they first start working with the homeless.   But, when you think about it, you didn't always have money making skills either, but you did learn, and you did excel at it.  Perhaps, you might have strong abilities in working with the homeless that are yet untapped.   I will tell you one thing though, a person such as yourself, donating 5 hours of your time a week will actually do more good, and change more lives, than your 500 dollar donation will.

I recall there being a book, the title of which struck a cord with me,  "What The Rich Teach Their Kids."   You see, poor people, homeless people never really get an opportunity to have their lives influenced by highly successful people.   And I'm not really even talking about money making skills, I'm just talking about success in life skills.   It is a mindset and a way of living that leads a person to success.  And the homeless, at least most of the homeless, have never experienced, or been influenced by, the way successful people lead their lives.   In life, people lead, and learn, by example.

So, I would ask you to consider lending your influence in the lives of homeless people.  Consider volunteering at a homeless shelter.   You don't even need to be teaching a class or giving a seminar on how to be successful.  Just be there, perhaps even doing some menial labor job, and let your attitude, your demeanor, your approach to life rub off on others, on people who never really had a chance to learn how to be successful in life.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quick History

I'm sure that some people reading this blog will not quite understand it's purpose, or why I write in the manner and style that I do. So, I think now would be a good time to recap my experiences with homelessness. Although this post is much longer than my other writings, it is still just a brief summary of my homeless experiences. I'm leaving a lot of details out, for the sake of not completely boring you to death.

As a young man entering my teens, I started experiencing problems with life. I tried running away from home, I attempted suicide. I got in some trouble my first year in high school and had to finish out high school at a school farther away from home. Actually it was the only school that would accept me after I'd carried a rifle onto school property.

Instead of trying to understand the issues I was dealing with - depression, social anxiety, what became known later on as Asperger's Syndrome - my parents and others labeled me as "bad." And instead of trying to find help for my problems, they instead thought it best to punish me for all the things I had done, of which I had had little or no control over. I was living at home until I turned twenty one years old. As my 21st birthday approached, my father told me that because I would soon be 21, he would no longer be held legally responsible for me, so he wanted me to move out of the house by my birthday. I got a job and an apartment, but things didn't work out very well. I just did not have the skills necessary to maintain. And within a few short months, I was homeless. That was back in 1982, and I've been struggling against homelessness ever since.

My first experience with homelessness lasted about 6 months. I then joined the Navy. I was in the Navy for a little less than 2 years. But I had problems with being in the service, and so I was given an administrative discharge. With no place to go, I went back to living at the rescue mission I'd stayed at during my first homeless experience. There I met someone who showed me how to apply for financial aid for college. I then went to college for a year and a half. But again, I started experiencing problems. I stopped going to classes. My GPA dropped, and so I lost my financial aid. With no where else to go, I went back to living on the streets.

I then met a young lady who helped me get off the streets. We eventually married. I got a job. We had two kids. We bought a house. Had two cars, etc. But after 6 years we divorced. The divorce was devastating and I ended up back on the streets. years past and I eventually got into a halfway house being run by a local church. I got a job. and In a year's time I moved into my own apartment. After a couple months, the apartment building caught fire, destroying the building, and I was homeless again. Luckily the halfway house took me back in. I saved up enough money to get back into another apartment. I lived in that apartment for a little over a year. But then I was laid off from work. I was eventually evicted my apartment and I ended up homeless yet again.

It used to be that whenever I became homeless, a certain kind of panic fell over me and I struggle to get off the streets by any means I could. But now, after years and years of falling back into homelessness, I'd given up the desire to get off the streets. At this point in my life I'd pretty much accepted as fact that I'd always be homeless. I was homeless for several more years. I spent most of my time staying at local shelters, but I also occasionally slept outside, in alleys, in and around abandoned buildings, I had owned a few cars in my time, one of which I lived in for over a year while it was parked on the side of the road.

Eventually a volunteer at a shelter encouraged me to apply for help with housing with a new program available to the homeless. After a year of working on it, I eventually was accepted to the place in which I am now living.

My first experience with homelessness was back in 1982. That was almost 30 years ago. Half of that time, I lived in literal homelessness. Much of the rest of the time I was living in a grey area between homelessness and having a home. When you live in a halfway house, you are not technically homeless, but you aren't really in a home of your own either. So you are still homeless, just living in someone else's home, temporarily. I have couch surfed, living with people i knew for short periods of time, been in halfway houses, have rented out cheap motel rooms, etc.

I have experienced a lot in my homelessness experiences. I have seen a lot of violence, I have avoided a lot of violence that was directed at me. Luckily I've never been in a fight, or even punched on the streets, although a few times someone or other would pull a knife on me, I was never hurt.

I have seen other people get hurt, have seen a a few fights, a few stabbings, a lot of arguments. I've known people who have died, some from addictions, some from just giving up on life, some were murdered.

I have also experienced some near miraculous changes in people's lives, where it seemed certain that their lives would end tragically on the streets, but instead their lives turned around, they got off the streets and lived the rest of their lives happily. Yes, recovering from homelessness does happen. As a matter of fact, an overwhelming majority of homeless people will eventually get off the streets and so return to living ordinary lives.

Sometimes people will question my opinions and other statements about homelessness. They should know that I am drawing on a life time of experience with homelessness. And I don't come at the subject lightly. I have always believed in the idea that "the truth will set you free," so I keep myself focused on looking for the truth, wherever that leads. And although sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes people don't want to hear it, I always speak the truth as I know it to be.  i believe that the key to ending homelessness is in pursuing the truth.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brett The Intern

Brett is one of the good people. You should check out his several youtube channels, like this one, and the work he does editing the Shaytards vlogs as well.