Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anxiety Problematic

I suffer from anxiety to the point that it distracts my attempts to have friends, a job, make a living, have a life.  It is why I am the way I am.  One thing I've come to notice about my anxiety is that I can alleviate some of it's symptoms with diet - and I'm not talking about a good diet.

Whenever I go through a phase of getting healthy, or trying to get healthy, my anxiety actually worsens.   When I eat "better", when I exercise, when I get more sleep, I find that my anxiety escalates.  I find that I'm more on edge - more excited and excitable, but not in a good way.

And what brings me down, calms me down, is a diet of junk food, fast food, cola beverages.

So, if you see me gaining weight, you'll now know it's because my anxiety has been elevated and I'm trying to suppress it.  And if I'm actually losing weight, understand that I'll be on edge, and my anxiety will be elevated.   Either way, it's not good.  No wonder I've always been overweight and out of shape.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rejected Charity


Here is a good question, this situation comes up from time to time.  My response follows:

Hi I was wondering if I could have some advice. I prepared a care package for a homeless guy that I drive past every day on my way to work. It contained a blanket, beanie, jumpers, socks, pillow, towel, toiletries and some canned food (no need for an opener). However when I went up to the homeless guy he told me to go away and that he did not want anything & that he had everything he needed. He said I'm not poor give it to someone else. I was going to just leave it there for him but he kept saying don't leave it! So I didn't leave it for him. I'm thinking that perhaps he is too proud or maybe he is untrusting I don't know. Is this a usual response from a homeless person or perhaps I am doing something wrong. Can you give any advice as how to approach a homeless person without offending them and letting them know that I'm doing it because I care? Thanks for your help :)

This does happen from time to time.   My main advice would be, don't push it.  For some homeless people, receiving charity can be a sensitive issue.   Just wish the person a good day and leave them alone.   Now, in certain situations, you can get around this.    You could wait until the person leaves his particular location and if you believe he/she will be back soon, then leave the items there.    Or as some people did for a particularly difficult person whom they knew was a serious dumpster diver, they just left items for him on or near the dumpster.   Then it was just a good find, and he wasn't accepting charity.    Or, you could just give the items to another homeless person.  Not only will you still be helping someone, your main concern will see the other homeless person enjoying the things you gifted him with, and seeing that your gifts pose no danger, he'll be more likely to accept your charity the next time it comes around.

Those are some ideas around an obstinate recipient.  But remember the first rule - don't push it.  Leave the homeless people alone if they decide to not accept your gifts.  Showing that you respect their space could be a good first step in eventually developing a relationship with this person.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Health Risks Of Being An Avid Blogger and Computer User

Laptops have lost popularity to smart phones, and there is one good thing about that.  You can use smart phones on the go.  They allow you to remain active while you do your computer work.   I have been sitting at a computer every day, nearly every hour of the day, for the past 10 years, and my health is suffering for it. Not only has my weight problem worsened, but I now have problems with my legs swelling, mostly around my ankles, and I have recently developed a soreness in my left leg that may very well be a blood clot.   This clot thing is scary, considering it can kill me by way of heart attack or stroke.    As for myself, I'm pretty much ready to go, I don't have anything to live for anymore, but for others with lives worth living, I highly recommend you limit your time sitting at a computer.   Too much of a good thing is bad for you.

The Easy Way To End Homelessness

Random photo of homeless person.

(Extra points for you if you saw this title and thought, "There is no easy way to end homelessness")

Many times I have been asked for quick and easy tips on how to help the homeless.   But the truth is, there is no McDonalds fast food type of answer to the issues of homelessness.    Giving money to panhandlers is not going to lift them off the streets.   And though they are in need of food clothing and shelter, providing those things alone do nothing to end their misery of being homeless.   You better believe it, homelessness is misery.   Of course their are those people who say they enjoy being homeless but they are being less than honest about that.   Even when being homeless is less of a problem for certain people than living otherwise, that does not make homelessness a good thing by default.   For those people who cannot conform to societies standards is for society to create alternate forms of living that homeless people can abide by and affords them a place off the streets.    There are organizations that have developed such alternate forms of living, and where they are being tried, they are successful.    Still these are new ideas, and most cities and towns have yet to implement them, mostly because they unaware of the benefits they offer everyone, the homeless and the cities they live in.   Look up the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Interagency Council on Homelessness for more information.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sleep

Without a doubt, sleep is the biggest issue for homeless people. Surprised? Well yeah, homeless advocates are always focused on what are believed to be the root causes of homelessness, and providing the basics of food shelter and clothing to those who do without. And although those things are important in their own way, they don't affect homeless people with the intensity that sleep does (or the lack thereof). Sure, I'll explain why. (I knew you'd ask). When advocating for the homeless, the advocates are expected to talk about certain subjects in a certain way, otherwise they people they are talking to, the general public, will either not accept or understand, what is being said to them. The general pubic has certain ideas, prejudices really, (borne from ignorance) about the homeless, which advocates must address, and address in a certain way, so to gain the trust and respect of the general public, so that when all is said and done, the public supports, (financially and otherwise) the work of the advocates for the homeless. Sad but true, people are more often supporting the work of advocates by giving what they want to give, instead of giving what is actually needed. For the majority of the public, their experience with homeless people is limited to encounters with drunken panhandlers. Because of this most donations given to homeless service providers, and the majority of resources available to advocates are geared towards dealing with homeless people who are alcoholics that panhandle. The reality is that these alcoholic panhandlers are a minority of the total homeless population. "Do something about these drunks" "Do something about all these bums panhandling" "Do something about homeless people defecating in the alleys" "do something about these lazy vagrants" "Do something about these people asking for money for food." "These people smell." I have yet to hear anyone from the general public ask, "do the homeless people get enough sleep?" Now, you may think "that's ridiculous. All I ever see is homeless people sitting about, or even lying down. If anything they are getting too much rest." I understand that such comes from your particular perspective, but you are not seeing the whole picture of homelessness, you don't know the full story. The importance of sleep is often talked about in the media, often focused on the problems that a lack of sleep causes people. F Mental and physical problems quickly mount for people suffering from sleep deprivation, depression grows, work productivity falls off, etc. This problem affects the homeless the same way. Odd as it may seem, the homeless are people too. For nearly everyone, their homeless experience begins with sleep deprivation. They lose their home, and don't really know where to go, once their homelessness begins. If they still own a car, they will try spending a few nights sleeping in their not-quite-enough-room automobile. It is very difficult to sleep in a car just because of its design. Then you have all sorts of other issues to contend with, depending on where the car is parked. The police who patrol at night keep an eye out for people sleeping in cars, and even if sleeping in your car isn't illegal (in more an more cities, car sleeping is being made illegal) they will often "check on your welfare" about 3am, just to make sure you are ok - and ruining any chance you'll have of getting a decent night's sleep. Parking in urban areas is just as problematic as paranoid residents easily spot unusual activity on their street and will quickly call the cops. If the newly homeless people doesn't have a car, their first nights are often spent on bus benches or up against business doorways or in alleys. There, they are exposed to the elements of rain, wind, extreme temperatures, and to all the predators that roam the city at night - mostly of the human variety. Homeless people often have their personal possessions stolen from them as they sleep, but more often they are pestered by both homeless and non-homeless people who happen upon. Just because you are sleeping is no guarantee that people will leave you alone. Even if they mean you no harm, they may still wake you just to ask for a cigarette, or other unimportant thing. Then, of course is the difficulty of just trying to sleep in a new environment. So, after a few days of this, you become weary of it, and decide to look for help, for food, a place to shower, and a real mattress to sleep on. You check in to a a homeless shelter, and hope for the best. But the "best" is not offered at shelters, not by a long shot. After a long period of processing and standing in lines, and possibly being required to listen to some inane religious preaching, you'll finally be assigned a bed. You'll find this bed is located in a large warehouse type room with many other beds - more than likely they will be bunk beds, or army cots, (ever try to sleep on an army cot?) You will be in a room with anywhere from 25 to 150 other homeless people, and not all of them will be ready to go to sleep. They will be talking, laughing or yelling, getting into fights (verbal and physical) making noises, the mentally ill will be trying to wind down from their constant hallucinations. As is practiced in many shelters, you'll be required to undress, give your clothes over to shelter personnel to be placed in a closet, you'll have to wear hospital scrubs. You'll be given one thin blanket, regardless of the temperature, you may, or may not be issued a pillow. If you like the cold, you'll sleep well, if not, you could have problems. Me, I can't sleep when I'm cold. Shelters in Nashville are always cold, regardless of the time of year. After a couple hours, most everyone has settled in to sleep, and you'll get some sleep. But then you'll be awaked, sometimes rudely, at 5am at most shelters. 5am every single morning. Well, in religious shelters they might allow you to sleep in until 5:30am on Sundays. You will be required (forced if necessary) to leave the dormitory and usually the entire property, immediately. You'll do your actually waking up out on the sidewalk. There are no opportunities for homeless people to actually rest up, nap, relax in their daily routine. Shelters don't offer day sleeping opportunities, weekends are treated the same as weekdays. What looks like laziness to the casual bypasser is actually sleep deprivation. Suffering from a lack of sleep, just how is a homeless person supposed to do all the things necessary for overcoming their homelessness?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Braving The Street

It's a book I highly recommend to people who want a deeper understanding of what is happening on the streets. It's a real scientific approach. No one is trying to sell a religion or other life philosophy on the backs of the homeless, in this book. Give it a read and gain knowledge. Braving the Street - The Anthropology of Homelessness, by Irene Glasser and Rae Bridgman.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Warm Bodies" The Movie

Alrighty! I watched "Warm Bodies" last night, and will again in a minute, before returning it to Redbox. You may not be aware of it, but the movie is an allegory. It's not about Zombies at all. It's about homeless people. Keep this in mind when watching it, or watch it again with this in mind. This movie now goes into my list of all time best movies to watch on the subject of homelessness.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This Is A Fantastic Job Opportunity

The following comes directly from the offices of The Contributor.

After nearly five tremendous and deeply impactful years with The Contributor, it is with a mix of sadness and anticipation that I announce that I will be stepping down from my position as Editor in August in order to pursue further education and vocational paths here in Nashville. I can hardly articulate just how important this organization has been and will always be in my life. It has, in many ways, made me who I am, and there is no question that the relationships (with vendors, staff, volunteers, supporters and community members) I’ve enjoyed through this work will significantly inform my own work (as a student and educator) in the years to come. I am extremely hopeful for what the future holds for The Contributor.

To that end, we are now beginning our search for our new Editor. The deadline to apply is Thursday, June 20 at 5:00 p.m. Please see the description below for more information, which is also on our website. If you know anyone who is well qualified (see requirements below) for the position, please pass it on to them, and share on social media sites. It is eminently important that we find the right person to help guide our unique publication into the future.
Thanks, and much love,
Andrew Krinks
Editor
The Contributor
Job Description: Editor
The Contributor

The Contributor is Nashville, Tennessee’s twice-monthly street newspaper that covers issues of poverty and homelessness, highlights the contributions of currently and formerly homeless individuals, and is sold by currently and formerly homeless persons for a profit.

BASICS
Full-time
$37,500 yearly salary
Benefits included

REQUIREMENTS
2-5 years editorial staff or newsroom experience
High attention to detail in all forms
Strong knowledge of rules of English language and grammar
Superb writing and reading skills
Significant knowledge of Nashville homelessness and poverty (and related) issues
Strong/healthy communication and interpersonal skills
Full capability with computer, Internet, email, and word processing
Reliable transportation and phone/email communication
Commitment to the mission of The Contributor

DESCRIPTION
The Editor of The Contributor street newspaper reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for managing and directing the editorial department of The Contributor, Inc. This responsibility includes: managing and working with small editorial staff, freelance writers, and editorial interns; working and communicating effectively with all other staff members and newspaper vendors; directing and maintaining tight publication schedule; reviewing and content-editing all submissions and proofreading every issue; assigning feature stories; corresponding with all writers; conducting creative brainstorming sessions with homeless and formerly homeless writers; facilitating regular in-office editorial meetings; paying close attention to local and national issues related to poverty and homelessness and searching out relevant subject matter locally; developing relevant relationships in the community; writing short columns and occasional feature stories or interviews; casting, developing, and bolstering the editorial vision of The Contributor street newspaper; producing a high-quality publication that provocatively and creatively offers diverse perspectives on issues related to homelessness and poverty; and contributing to the general maintenance and promotion of the organization across all departments consistent with the direction communicated by the Executive Director.

Submit application via email only to andrew@thecontributor.org. Please include “EDITOR APPLICATION” in the subject line.

APPLICATION MUST INCLUDE:
  • Resume (PDF or Word format)
  • Letter of interest (1 page max) (PDF or Word format)
  • Three (3) references (at least one professional)
  • Three (3) writing samples (journalistic preferred) (PDF or Word format)
  • One to three (1-3) examples of publication(s) for which you served an editorial function (PDF or website link)