From the pastor of Downtown Presbyterian Church,
"Who knows? Perhaps you have been raised up for such a time as this." Esther 4:14b.
The hard fact of reality is that if you push any of us hard enough we will break. Spiritually, physically, mentally: pushed hard enough we will all crumble and go under. Some will last longer than others because they have more will-power or were raised differently. Maybe they have more financial advantages to act as a buffer between them and hardship. Some will appear to be strong but that's only because they haven't been pushed the right way. But given enough time and hardship we'll all fold.
As well know, the world economy is going through a difficult time. Economics is both a science and an art so one must expect that there will be downswings as well as upswings. And because of that, some people are being pushed to their limit and beyond. It's happening around the world. It's happening in our country. It's happening in Nashville. People are losing their jobs, losing their medical benefits, their pensions are being frozen. Along with that they are losing their positive outlook on life, their resiliency, their reason for hoping and trying harder.
In June, our Pastor's Discretionary Fund jumped from about 50 checks and $500 per month to 100 checks and a little over $1000 dollars. That's a 100% increase in just one month. Our Sunday Breakfast ministry averages about 100-120 per week. On June 20th we served 180 people. This past Sunday we served 212. Again, an almost 100% jump in just 2 weeks.
As you might expect, the homeless and urban poor are experiencing a general increase in tension. It's hot outside. There are more people competing for less food and clothing and fewer beds. Those just entering the world of homelessness or increased poverty are scared and afraid.
The anxiety gripping our nation is not confined to just one social class or one sector of the economy or one geographic location. It is a general disquiet during which more and more of us are wondering just how far we can be pushed before we crumble.
This is exactly the kind of situation where churches and individual Christians can make a tremendous difference. First of all, we are generous. While we were still sinners we were generously saved by the blood of the lamb and we respond to that generosity by being generous ourselves. We give freely because God gave freely to us. And we well know that when times are hard generosity is more important than ever. When times are hard no one can only afford to look after themselves. That's when we have to look after everyone, especially those who can't look after themselves.
Second, we are calm. We know we are God's children. We know the next world is even better than this one. We know our status comes from being children of God, not from where we live, the car we drive or the price of the food we eat. The fact that we are calm helps those around us be calm as well. Our mere presence lowers the anxiety and increases the hope and vision of everyone around us.
Finally, we practice the healing power of community. By worshipping and sharing our concerns together we are reminded that we are not facing these hardships alone. We have the support and love of each other to bolster us and give us hope in situations where we might tempted to give in to despair.
What can churches do in times like this? What can our church do in this time and place? We can be faithful to serve God and one another with our spirit of generosity, our calm assurance and our healing presence. Perhaps it is for times like these that we exist. Amen. ~ Ken Locke
Thursday, July 31, 2008
From the pastor of Downtown Presbyterian Church,
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
According to an article in the, NYTimes.com HUD is reporting that the overall U.S. Chronically Homeless population has dropped by 30%. We all know how "iffy" the homeless population numbers are, but besides that, I want to remind you that according to HUD, the "chronically" homeless population is only 20% of the total homeless population. So, if 20% of the population drops by only 30%, the total homeless population isn't really reduced by much. 7 Percent.
And since we know that homeless population counts can be in error by as much as 50% - The claim of reducing the homeless population is still suspect.
In Nashville, the group responsible for creating a "Housing First" program, hasn't even come close to completing that mission, after working on it now for 4 years. And what they do have in place is not following the Housing First model. Instead it's just a different form of a homeless shelter. And there is nothing permanent about it. People are dropping out of the program all the time. Even I am in danger of losing my SRO.
People will talk about "freedom" in this country until they are red, white, and blue in the face. But have someone actually exercise their freedoms and they will go into convulsions.
My blog, this blog, is mine. That is, it is my property to do with as I please. But every once in a while a person, or people, will come along and attempt to tell me what I should or shouldn't do with it. And they aren't making suggestions, they are actually demanding that I operate this blog in a way that they dictate. They even go so far as to threaten me with all sorts of retaliation, if I don't conform to their demands.
Well, as a real American, a true Patriot of this country, all I can do is tell those people to bug off, take a hike, don't let the screen door hit ya where the good lord split ya.
Additionally, my comment section, open when I decide it is open - and only so far as people behave themselves - is yet another one of my possessions. I will open it up for public consumption when and if I decide it is profitable and expedient for me.
If you don't like they way I do things here, you can go elsewhere. No one says you have to visit this blog. Ok? Ok!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Griefers attack the blog, consume the comment section, and generally disrupt things. Deep down, they just can't stand a homeless guy having some level of success - it goes against their grain. And so they must attempt to make a mockery of it. So comments are going off for a while - until the find some other place on the internet to play.
Nearly all the commentors were griefers anyway.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Conservatives like to be duped, reassured, reinforced… it’s integral to the authoritarian mentality.
Constitutional violations and overt propaganda are nothing new for the Bush Administration. Freedom of the Press means freedom from government control and political use - i.e. propaganda.
Former Bush Press Secretary Scott McCellan confirmed what we all suspected.
“Certainly there were commentators and other pundits at FOX News, that were helpful to the White House. … Yes it was something that we at the White House were doing, giving them [Fox News] talking points…. It was done frequently, especially on high-profile issues.”–Scott McClellan
There you have it… Fair and Balanced. I report, you decide.
This blog is one of the highlights of my life - I have done very few things as important as this. And I've been doing this for almost 6 years now. I've put a lot into it. And I am very glad that people have gotten a lot out of it too. And thanks to all you people who have shown your support over the years, especially those people who value what I do here enough to put a little change into my paypal account. If I could make a living by writing this blog, my life would be also complete. I would at least be happy with this kind of work. But for all that it is, I am not able to make a living off this blog. Although I really don't know why. Where's the book deal? :P
Anyway, I am very glad, and willing, you answer your personal questions about homelessness. But right now, given my situation, I need some reciprocation. That is, if I'm going to spend a lot of time answering emails from all y'all, it needs to pay off somehow.
So, for right now, if you want a real answer to your questions, I'll need you to show a little love, and drop some change into my paypal account. Last I heard, a "living wage" was about 12 dollars an hour. So, could I at least get the minimum for my efforts? Please, make it worth my while.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
There are two basic methods people use for surviving this world. One method is to work towards shaping the world to fulfill their own desires. The other method is to shape themselves to conform to the worlds desires. Successful people are constantly working to form the world in their own image. Unsuccessful people are always trying to conform to the desires of others. As a wise man once said - "If you want to be successful, do what successful people do."
People working the homeless industry will often talk about "justice." Almost like they believe it to be some magical word - a trump word - that justifies their work. To them every issue homeless people face is a justice issue. They believe that if justice were provided to homeless people that people would no longer be homeless.
The reality is, there is no justice in the world - not for the homeless, not for the homed - not for the poor, nor the rich. What the rich and homed people enjoy over the poor and homeless is not a bigger share of justice, but more control over their own worlds. When O.J. Simpson got away with murder, twas because he was wealthy and had very good lawyers to do his bidding, it wasn't justice that saved him. Justice is a thing to strive for, and ideal to consider when determining another person's fate. But there is no real thing as justice. The successful people of the world know this, and so they do not wait for justice to set them free from what ever bondage they may be under - instead they use their influence to create a world by which their fate is not so much determined by others. And that sets them free - that is, if they are successful enough. Justice does not set a person free - but the concept does manipulate people into conformity to other people's determination of their fate.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Ok, the only way I could fix the problem was to reinstall the whole works - it was the only way to get that virus off the computer.
btw, I actually got several emails from people suggesting virus/malware removal services that were actually viruses themselves. People search for blogs talking about virus issues and then suggest "their" solution. Don't trust those people. Only take advise on the subject from people you know AND trust.
Well, I've got to find and redownload all my programs - oh the joy.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Ok, Spybot Search and Destroy seemed to be the only solution for my issue. Although it has not completely fixed it. Some of the other recommendation were bad recommendations. They offered an insignificant fix, unless I paid them a good bit of money. And a couple of them were themselves, malware. Some of them, once downloaded, would not allow me to delete them. So, be very careful, when fixing your own.
I now have a trial version of McAfee installed, and even McAfee can't delete the problem I have. After every delete, it automatically reinstalls itself. Even as McAfee deletes it, it just makes another copy of itself and plays all over again. And this is causing a big drag on my computer. Things are taking a lot longer to work now.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I tried to download a free malware protection service - but come to find out - it was malware - came up on the very front page of a google search at the top in the advertisements!!!!
WEll, now I've got windows popping up continuously on the computer while I try to work. And the thing moves a lot slower now.
I don't have money to pay to fix it - so this thing is now a very expensive piece of plastic and wire crap.
Can anything go right?
Will there ever be an end to evil?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty." -- Mother Theresa
Here is a recent question about Second Life and the internet in general, and my reply:
Peggy asked.... I guess I am too old to comprehend. Why are people paying money for something that isn't real. Why not use the time and money in dealing with life in person. So much time seems to be spent in making a perfect life on the internet instead of learning from our mistakes in the day to day of real life, facing the actual people. I love the internet but its so easy to let it take up way too much time.
Oh, it's not an age thing - lots of "old" folks get into it. The internet, and all it's many offerings, is a tool to be used for whateve purpose you have in mind. Sure, from time to time all people use the internet as an escape - but don't we all need to escape from time to time? We already do that with TV and Movies - the internet is just a more interactive, involving, form of that. But, just as TV and Movies can also be a tool for education, and for enhancing our everyday lives, so too can the internet be that tool. And even more so.
And that's my purpose for the Education Center on Homelessness in Second Life. It will be a place where people can go and learn about it. And that education will follow those people back into the real world, and effect real lives.
Personally, the internet has been instrumental in helping me overcome my social anxieties, and to learn of my other issues so that I could over come them.
In Second Life there are many real life educational institutions, universities, etc, set up with online classes that can only be accessed through Second Life. Some things are just better taught in the Second Life environment.
And so it's all what you make of it. Like anything else, you get out of it, what you put into it.
There is a lot of potential in the virtual reality called Second Life. This is the virtual building I'm looking to purchase in Second Life and use as "The Jubilee Center." The building will serve one purpose two ways. As you know, my life's work is to educate people about the realities of homelessness. And here I plan on doing that in Second Life as well. On the first floor of this building will be several shops from top Second Life Designers. Charging rent for these spaces at the current market rate, will pay for the rest of what I do here. The second floor of this building will be the educational center, where I, and others, will work to educate the public about real life homelessness, using displays and real time conferences and lectures. The building itself covers the equivalent of 100 Square Meters.
I chose the name of the place, "The Jubilee Center" to reflect the celebration of life, and the message of forgiveness, which is so vital to being able to enjoy life. Most homeless people have lost the ability to find joy in life, and so they must be helped and taught to see the good in life once again. And we all can help them return to a sense of celebration of life mostly by being forgiving towards them, and helping them to remember how to forgive - to forgive others, and themselves. Besides the retail and the learning center, there is enough room in the place to hold events, like dances, or band performances, etc, to help raise awareness of the center among the residents of Second Life. Everyone likes to party in Second Life.
Currently, there are two types of "sims" in Second Life. There is the full sim which is equal to 65000 square meters - and it can hold a lot of buildings and support a lot of activity. And there is a new sim they just released, called an "Open Space" sim. This sim is the same size in square meters, but supports only 1/3 of the buildings and activity of a full sim. But, where a full sim costs 1000 usd to buy and 295 usd a month to maintain, an Open Space sim is only 295 usd and 85 usd a month to maintain it. And for what I will need for the Jubilee Center, I believe that an Open Space sim will be enough. Yet if the popularity of center exceeds expectations, it can always be moved to a more powerful sim.
In the short time that I've been in Second Life, I have met two land holders who were interested in helping me with this project. And I've met with several Second Life designers who are willing to put stores into the mall.
I figure it will take me a month of work to make the education center part of the building complete. The designers would install their own stores on the first floor.
It would be great if I was able to purchase a sim of my own and not have to worry about a landlord. But if someone give me free access to land, I'll definitely take them up on it.
One person has offered an Open Sim to me for this project. All I would have to do is pay the monthly maintenance fee - called a 'Tier fee' in Second Life. That means I would need 85 dollars for the first month while I build. Once that first month is over, I'll have the first floor filled with shops - and the rent from those shops will take care of any future monthly tier payments.
And, the building itself, will cost the equivalent of 20 dollars. So, to make all this happen, and have a homeless education center in Second Life, the start up cost would be a minimum of 105 dollars.
If anyone, or group would like to help sponsor this project, I'll gladly accept your donation. And will promise you significant recognition for your help with this project.
Every 60 days over a million people log into Second Life. There is much potential there.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
An advocacy group says up to a 130 homeless people have been removed from Sydney Australia during World Youth Day celebrations.
Kevin Simpson from Homeless Voice says men and woman who normally sleep in the city or the Domain have been moved out by authorities.
"I am a little bit surprised they haven't taken more care of the actual people who Jesus came for and that's the disadvantaged, marginalised broken people," he said.
Homeless Voice says during APEC people who sleep on the streets were offered accommodation in motels but not so during World Youth Day.
ABC TV spoke to homeless man Shane, who normally sleeps in the Domain car park.
"Since the Pope and that's been in town we've had to relocate to this open park and if it rains we're sort of buggered, we've got no wind block," he said.
World Youth Day organisers say all Catholic welfare groups remain in operation.
But WYD coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher says the soup kitchen offered in the city has had to be shifted to a neighbouring suburb, Woolloomooloo.
"I know some of them have moved in order to ensure the privacy of those homeless people so they're not surrounded by pilgrims, so they can eat their soup in privacy," he said.
From a post at Impagination
I’ve just finished a review of the LIS literature on public libraries and the homeless for my research methods class. One striking thing I noticed is the dearth of empirical research conducted on issues specific to homeless public library patrons, despite the potential for valid, authoritative data to strengthen the claims of social justice advocates and bring both public attention and funding dollars to support libraries providing sanctuary and services to the homeless. Vanessa Budnick makes an interesting point about this in her Masters Thesis on the perceptions of library students and professionals toward the homeless.
Librarians often use the argument that they must pay great heed to the voices of “tax-paying” users. However, every article that I read about the homeless and libraries neglected to identify if the policies or attitudes truly were a reflection of public complaints. Admittedly it would be a challenge to approach patrons to see if homeless patrons were a concern; however, it seems likely that any “problem” behaviors are documented and that the creation of policies against body odor and bed rolls are substantiated by records of these complaints. Yet, where is the evidence? Library articles discuss homelessness, but rarely seem to back-up their statements with proof. Are these “problem patrons” a problem for the staff or for other patrons? Not to say that staff complaints are not valid, but we cannot cloak our decisions in patron beliefs when the concerns are really from the staff. (“Perceptions” 9)
Click Impagination for the rest of this great article.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Don Worrell is the VP of the Nashville Rescue Mission. And, I have known him longer than anyone else in Nashville, some 25+ years. Well, his family was involved in a very bad car accident and were very badly injured. Prayers on their behalf are needed immediately.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
BOLINAS – Two more people have been charged in the assault on a homeless Bolinas man last month.
A teenage boy and a 21-year-old woman are the latest of six suspects to be arraigned in the stabbing, kicking and beating of 33-year-old Ricky Green.
Tyrone Brendal, 17, who is being charged as an adult, was arraigned Wednesday on counts of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities say he pummeled Green with a skateboard during the attack.
Suraya Khalil also was arraigned and is the only one of the six to not face attempted murder charges. She faces a count of assault causing great bodily injury.
Authorities say Green spent two weeks in the hospital after he was found semiconscious and bloody in some shrubbery.
Police say they believe they now have all suspects in custody.
So, once again the weight of the world comes crashing down on me, and I am no Atlas. When a person such as myself who has little in life comes to lose even that, any motivation he may have to try and survive this world is lost.
I realize that my main motivation for getting a place again, was the chance that I would be able to restore relationships with my children. Well, finally I was able to connect with them - and as best I could I let them know how much I loved them, and how much I wanted to be a part of their lives. Before, I couldn't even do that. But, they have responded with silence. There is no motivation within them to seek me out - to have me in their lives. Could they really care less?
And, then there is all of the rest of the world that seems to be losing it's collective mind. It really seems that a collapse of civilization is eminent. Is it that our planet is about to die, and us with it? The North Pole will be melted by the end of Summer. How insane is that?
So, what is the point of anything, anymore? The canary in the coal mine is laying on the bed of it's cage, gasping for breath.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
It is hard these days for all charities to stay afloat financially. The leading thought these days among people with money to give to charities, is that charity makes people weak and lazy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. But, it does make for a great way to justify not giving to charities.
And so charities are becoming desperate to keep themselves funded. And the temptation often becomes too great, and the charities feel forced to stretch the truth a bit, about the true needs of the people they serve, just to keep their organization alive. But, in the case of homeless charities, and homeless shelters and service providers, there is a very damaging side-effect to all this.
To prompt those very few generous people to actually give, a shelter will play on their worst fears about homelessness, and will actually feed into stereotypes of homeless people and the predicament they are in. For a great many others, though, this erroneous portrayal of homeless people only reinforces the prejudices they have against them, and creates even more obstacles for the homeless to overcome, as they try to leave homelessness.
Be very leery of any "authority" on homelessness who tells you what "typical" homelessness is like. There really is no typical homeless situation, or typical homeless person. To say so is the beginning of a lie.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Ok, right now there's some issue with Second Life and I cannot log in. So, I'll take a moment here to post.
I've gotten a couple of emails from people that expose a certain type of person that I'd like to talk about.
You know, people like to talk. We've really turned it into an art form. For many people, words are their life, and they make a living with them.
It's amazing what all you can do with words. You can solve problems with them, from the smallest, to the biggest. That is, if you use them wisely.
But, you can also do a lot of harm with your words. You can actually kill people with words. Just think about that poor girl who committed suicide because someone on myspace said some terrible things about her.
And, we can control and manipulate people with words. We can have people believing things that are not true. We can convince people to do things they would not normally do, all just with words.
So, it is very important how we use words. And we can only hope that people will be honest and ethical, and moral, in the use of them.
Ah, but we know that people, actually most people, are not inclined to use words for the benefit of others. There's no reason to go into the why's and wherefore's - we know it happens. A person can make a lot of selfish gains in this world, just with words.
And, that is because, for some reason, although we know better, we know that people are not always honest - there is something in us that makes us tend to think that people are being honest when they talk. It may be because we so much want to avoid conflict. We someone starts talking in a way that we know to be Bull Shit, we are unlikely to say, "you're talking Bull Shit." Some people just like to here good things, whether they are true or not.
Well, there are people in the world that really know how to talk the talk, how to say all the right things. To say all the good things. Yet all the while, they don't actually believe their own words.
On occasion a person will write to me, and they will say all the right things. They will talk about how they have compassion, and how much they care about all things. Yet, when it comes to homeless people, they find that they cannot have compassion for the homeless. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy that. As a matter of fact, I believe these people are talking Bull Shit. And the proof comes when I call them on the Bull Shit. They will quickly take offense at my accusations and declare that because I called them a Bull Shitter, that they have no choice but to have no compassion for ALL homeless people. Isn't that something? That they would judge all homeless people on the actions of one. That's no different than saying all black people are criminals because a few are. Or that the Jews have taken over Hollywood and the media because there are a few working in Hollywood and the media. It's straight up prejudice. And it's evil. Truly compassionate people have compassion for all things, they don't pick and choose what and who they have compassion for.
Take for instance the following email I received. It starts out with the kindest words and sentiments. But then watch how she begins to reveal her true self. And her true feelings about homeless people. And how she tries to justify those feelings.
Dear Mr. Barbieux,
I'm very grateful for the perspective you share on your blog. I really believe that all people need to listen to each other and be sensitive to each other, but some of us need a little more help than others. This is sometimes a hard thing to do.
Right now my community is battling the city because they want to put an RV park for the chronically homeless in our neighborhood. We're a poor community and we are way on the edge of town. When the city decided to build this park without talking to the people who live out here, I felt that they were doing to our community exactly what they always do to the homeless people: treat them like they don't matter. The city never bother to tell us they wanted to do this. Do you think they'd treat the people in big downtown condos that way? I worked really hard to buy my little house and take care of it. Right now I don't live there, and I am renting it out. I love my neighborhood because I'm a woman who lives alone and I felt completely safe there because I knew all of my neighbors and their kids and they knew me and my comings and goings. For a while, about a dozen homeless people were invited by a guy who doesn't live in our community to camp out in the woods by our homes. It was very unsettling because all of a sudden, instead of kids playing in the streets there were people in a lot of psychic pain hanging out on our lawns or on the curb and sneaking water when they thought we were not home. I don't know why anyone would tell people to camp way out where our houses are - we have hard enough time getting the things we need in our cars! The nearest grocery is 2 miles away! Ifeel like they just want to hide the homeless, make them go away and they don't want to do the things that might really help people. Personally I think the trick is to prevent homelessness - to help people before they fall, but I feel that our society is too judgmental to do that. We like to see complete and total abject suffering before we hold out a helping hand.
I worry that putting homeless people far from services that will help them is a bad thing. It looks to me that the homeless live downtown a lot because downtown is in the center of things, where the things people need are within walking distance. What's the sense of putting people way out in the boonies away from the the support they need? I don't get it. Our neighborhood is barely holding on, I don't think we're strong enough to carry a new community that needs lots of help and support of the kind you talk about. How do I get the city to see this and do something that Really supports the chronically homeless and not just sweep them under the rug? Any criticisms, insights or advice appreciated. Thank you for listening.
Also, note that last few lines there. She wrote, "Any criticisms, insights or advice appreciated." So, this is how I replied:
The services follow the homeless - the homeless do not follow the services - so where the services are is meaningless. I think the saddest commentary is that the homeless have to sneak water from you. Work with the homeless and you will find them to be good neighbors. Fight against them, and they will not care anything for your desires.
What I wrote there was straight up truth, and advice on how she could best proceed. That whole business about sneaking water reminded me of Jesus' teachings about not refusing a person a cup of cold water.
But, there was indeed something else behind her writing that email. And it came out even more obviously in her next reply. Obviously, she was only looking for an excuse to discount the homeless.
"Work with the homeless and you will find them to be good neighbors. Fight against them, and they will not care anything for your desires."
Maybe you didn't mean that, but this is very self-righteous and threatening language. It's exactly why people don't want the homeless living next to them.
I can see now, that trying to dialog with you was a waste of time. But just so you know - My neighbors and I cannot afford to pay for gallons of water extra a day-- which is what was happening to the people who, at first, were happy to share their water and pay for it for the homeless who wanted it. But when word of mouth gets around and everyone is obliged to amplify their water bill to support a tent city it seems unfair. You think no one is helping you. Well, guess what, no one is helping us either. Everything we have, everything we own, we make happen for ourselves. We sometimes struggle to hold things together, but because we are building a life for ourselves. we get up every day and try. You can call us selfish. You can threaten us, and you cantell us that trying to find ways to put the homeless in contact with services is "irrelevant." That's actually helpful to hear from the self-appointed "homeless guy": Nothing we say is anything you can hear.
I can tell from your tone, that you have no sympathy or care for anyone but yourself, especially not people who work hard every day to build something they love for them selves and their community.
I am going to share your response with my neighbors so that they can be condfident that we are doing the right thing, by making sure this homeless park never happens. Yeah - of course serivces are irrelevant when yo can steal water in the middle of the night, or knock on peoples doors asking for spare change all day. Who needs services when you can just get what you want from people who barely have enough for themselves and their families? Right?
We were not trying to fight against anyone. We were actually truly concerned that people get the help they need. We are not service providers, just a small working class neighborhood, so there's no reason for the homeless to "follow" us anywhere. We don't have anything that is "relevant" to you.
In reply to this we had a spat of emails back in forth where I had to privilege to tell her that she was conniving and a hypocrite, etc. And she had the nerve to say that I was the one avoiding real dialog. Geez.