Follow by Email

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jesus Was a Homey Too!

The Son of Man was Homeless:  

____________________________________

Is there anything wrong with living outdoors, in isolation or as a hermit? When is living outdoors or in isolation a problem?
_____________________________________

As irreverent as it may sound, it appears to me that Jesus was a homey too. Andas opposed to hanging out with the intelligentsia, the elite, political power brokers, clerics or the wealthy of his day, as a rule he often made his abode among the great unwashed of his time. In other words, Jesus mostly hung out with 'the homeys of his day'. And he was not alone in that regard, remember John the Baptist, Elijah, Ezekiel and other historical outdoor citizen icons, also practiced similar ascetic lifestyles.

What explanation can there be for giants like these, having to or choosing to spend considerable periods of their lifetimes, living in isolation. Frequently they lived mountains, wildernesses, caves and among the great unwashed of their day? Ezekiel even complained of being all alone.  Any one of these outdoorsmen icons, and individuals similar to them who practiced asceticism, could have used their gifts and talents to garner self-promotion.

Why would these gentlemen ... choose to remain outdoors, only to be teased by children, disdained by members of the upper crust of society, hungry, isolated and rejected? And what about John, who is often referred to as the Baptist, exactly who was his haberdasher? Elijah frequently adorned similar garb.

And even though Daniel eventually spent much of his life in the Royal Palace at Sushan, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, found themselves living under peculiar circumstances, even by today's standards. Remember, Jeremiah remained behind with the remnant when at the same time Ezekiel, another great prophet was forced to resides among the refugees in the Ghettos beside the River Chabar. Seldom did they complain about their living circumstances, even when sinking in the mire.

Given their stations in life, or better yet their reputations, it is inconceivable that they would have lived, moved and hung out with the great unwashed, even though they were called, apparently, to do so. How many of us would have obeyed if we received a similar calling. Why would Dr. Paul, reject all of the significant years of training that he received at the feet of Gamaliel, the nephew of Hillel, an education that could have garnered for him great wealth and the right station in life among the aristocracy.

And what is the lesson for each one of us? It is, I believe, that all of us ought to understand that the Earth is the Lord, and the fullness thereof - and as a result, all of us ought to understand that we are creatures of the earth (in other words composed of the earth). And what makes us different is that we are apparently earthen vessels that have been infused with the spirit of life.

According to writer of the book of Genesis, God metaphorically breathed breath into man, and man became a living soul in deference to the flora and the fauna ... Prior to being infused with life, humans were nothing more than mud creatures. For example, have you ever gone out to the beach and taken mud or hydrated sand and created a figure that had all of the features of an animal or person, bit still it lacked one thing, the ability to move, get up, walk, think, fly, run, breath ...?

Well, that is all we were, prior to being jolted with the gift of life. Job explained, in the poetic book that bears his name, that he would return to womb from which he came, the earth. In the original King James version of the bible, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said, "thy will be done (in) earth, as it is in heaven". Even though most translations today read, "thy will be done (on) earth, as it is done in heaven", for me it changes the entire context. In fact, I suspect that something significant has been lost in the re-interpretation.

Consider this, if God's word is 'forever settled (in) heaven,' then I suspect that it is just as significant that both God's word and his will be settled (inside of the earth), and we are 'the earthen creatures that Jesus may have been referring to'. His will being done 'on earth', says something altogether different to me. Get it?

And given that we are earthen vessels infused with spirit, and composed with ingredients from the earth, is it any wonder that not only the historical icons mentioned above, especially Jesus, spent considerable periods of their lives being one with the earth, mountains, trees and the great unwashed of the earth that typically resided outside.

Around the world today, in both developed and undeveloped countries, many of the citizens of the world are still outdoor citizens. By comparison, individuals who typically live in buildings, palaces of stone, straw, clay, wood ... have been and are still being extended respect, while at the same time their deferential brothers and sisters on the outside are often treated with disrespect. In other words, the highlanders receive respect, and the lowlanders receive disrespect.

Whether one happens to be a highlander or a lowlander, there is no shame in living outdoors, that is, with this caveat: It is your desire to remain outdoors, and you have the ability, desire and willingness to take care of yourself and your needs.

Among the outdoor citizen's demographic in modern day America, a significant number of outdoor citizens have chosen outdoor living as a lifestyle. Some outdoor citizens have chosen the highlands, and others have chosen the lowlands, but one thing that each group has in common is that they prefer a native habitat as opposed to living inside of a modern day structure.

Sadly, due to public policy and government regulations, the freedom to live outdoors is considered to be atypical or aberrant behavior, and the individuals who practice outdoor living, are considered to be nuisances, criminals, vagrants, vermin, varmints, varmants or strange.

The right of outdoor people to light a fire, in order to stay warm on a cold night, to dig a well in order to acquire water ... has all but been stripped away. And the earth is the Lord's, did we say?

I wonder, what right does another human being or government institution have to tell a human being who lacks a domicile, or chooses not to have one - that he or she cannot build and light a fire in order to keep themselves warm at night? And the current practice where outdoor citizens are forbidden to do so, is even more disturbing given the exploding homeless epidemic that is taking place in America.

Coupled with greed, unemployment, globalization, corporate down-sizing, outsourcing, jobs being sent overseas ... many Americans are experiencing, not by choice or plan, the need to live outside again, whether they want to live outside or not.

And what that says to me is that the regulations, and the public policy that created these regulations, needs to be modified, in order to adapt to the need of individuals to set up tents, a lean to or to build fires, construct camps ... America is in a state of emergency, in a similar manner as it would be if we were under military attack, or if there was some geologic anomaly. Legislators, policy-makers, local, state and national leaders, should have little to say when individuals have to find creative ways to survive, particularly when the former all return each day to warm domiciles with heat and running water.

Similar to the native or aboriginal people in most countries, native Americans also lived outdoors, and never once did any of them, I suspect, consider themselves to be homeless.
If home is where the heart is, any place can be home, particularly if you feel comfortable.
The highlanders in the American scenario, appear to be the individuals that still have domiciles, some more than one, two or even three, and having that, the number of individuals who have homes is beginning to shrink as more homeowners are being dispossessed from their homes. So back to my point, what are outdoor citizens to do, particularly when they are no jobs, they cannot afford homes and the policy-makers use the police to keep their boots on their necks? Shouldn't outdoor citizens be permitted to construct habitats for themselves, without returning to find that they have been crushed by police officers who are simply following orders?

I heard someone on the radio say about a decade ago, that if God instructed Noah to erect an Ark in America, that he would very likely be unable to do so as God instructed him to do. Why?

The speaker, in the voice of Noah explained to God why he could not build the ark in the allotted time. "God", he said, "I tried, but I could get the environmental impact study done in time, and the Army Corp of engineers have to be brought in, and that will take time and then there is the regulatory commission to deal with ..."

Folks, America is changing and the laws will have to change as well, in order to meet the needs of the people, or otherwise what good is a commonwealth or a union of states, if it no longer can address the needs of the members of the commonwealth? What I like about Jesus was and is, he seemed to have an affinity for the permanent underclass of his day. And not only would he preach to them or teach them, Jesus, actually got out, hung out with them, drank from the same wells, imbibed on a pouch full of wine, played football (well, I take a bit of license here), but you get my drift.

As a homey, I suspect that Jesus and his homeys were often dusty and perhaps a bit smelly at times. And on occasion, they would apparently enter into a field of corn, glean and have a bite to eat. Today, you could go to jail for doing such a thing. Why would Jesus behave in such such a manner, was he a thug? Or perhaps, he did it to set an example for the rest of us, and to remind us that what we do to the least of his little ones, that we do the same to them, especially when we look down our noses at people who live on the outside, instead of on the inside of the house!

Born outside (on the road), wrapped in swaddling clothes, lain in a manager ... and lacking what the foxes and birds had, holes and nest, or even a place to lay his head. Isn't it amazing that history is repeating itself today in America. Today, it is Mary, Jane, Johnny ..., who often are without a place to lay their heads .

If we don't have a sufficient amount of homes to go around, even though more and more of them are sitting empty today, let's adapt our public and social policy, so that we can accommodate individuals who are sincerely in need of help, even when it means living outside comfortably throughout the years.

If you have never lived outside among the great unwashed, I suggest that you try it. I was forced to do so myself, to the surprise of former neighbors, relatives, ministers, former parishioners and friends. And the experience taught me what ministry was actually all about, and why Jesus, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist lived, often, in the manner that they did.

To live among, sit on the ground, dine and share utensils in some cases, with other individuals who were willing to share what little they had, was an eye opening experience for me. And, as a result, my ministry will never be the same. Perhaps all of America, should have a night or two out - someone contact President Obama, and see if he can arrange it. Trust me, if Jesus were here today, and he carried on as he once did, back in the day, most Americans would not be hanging out with Jesus, or the other prophets that I mentioned before, other than the individuals on skid row.

The latter group would likely welcome him into their camps, and offer him some of what they had to eat or drink. I will close with the lyrics of this song in mind: Jesus Christ Superstar ...There are a lot of superstars living outdoors, and if Jesus were to reappear in the manner that many believers expect him to do someday, where do you suppose that he will be hanging out, at the White House or the Church house?

I suspect that Jesus would go and find the lost sheep of the House of America, 'the homeys', rap with and live among them! So do as I did, and go and spend 4 or 5 months living outside with the outdoor people, or wherever you might find a place to lay your head (as opposed to longing for 'a mansion in the sky' as most Christians are doing. Besides, a certain percentage of Americans, who are not aware of it yet, are going to end up living outside too, if things don't change - and it could be you and your family!

Solomon

Also the President of the Outdoor Citizen's Coalition & Think Tank of Santa Clara County California

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Supply-Side Poverty Paradigm in Santa Clara County and Beyond

The Issue of homelessness: 

We refer to ourselves as Outdoor Citizens. We are working to change the existing crippling, supply-side dependency dynamic that persists in this and other regions of the country.
-------------------------------
Supporting dependency is neither the solution to the problem of homelessness in the Santa Clara Valley nor elsewhere in America, we believe. And if you disagree, simply consider what has been going on with the burgeoning outdoor citizen problem in your community.


Or in the words of Dr. Phil ask, "how has what you or your community have been doing ... working for you and your community so far"?  Oftentimes, the end result of goodwill, faith-based and institutional supply-side government ... subsidies programs is that too many outdoor citizens remain in the same place, homeless, underemployed, unemployed, begging, living in city parks and ravines or surviving on handouts.


We believe that it will require massive disruption among outdoor citizens, as well as fundamental changes to the existing institutional structures before we will see any appreciable differences or any lasting changes. At the very least, a more synergistic multi-modal approach, to include direct participation from the outdoor citizen's community to solve the problem of homelessness, will be necessary!


If not, we do not expect to see any appreciable differences or improvements, with regard to America's expanding homeless and downwardly mobile permanent underclass anytime soon.  Hope for Outdoor People (the Outdoor Citizen's Coalition and Think-Tank of Santa Clara County), recently incorporated in the state of California. In less than 1.5 years in existence our 501(c)3 federally exempt, non-profit corporation is already making an impact, even in terms of defining the narrative.


We believe that our critical policy analysis is second to none, and might just be more realistic than anything else that is out there at present. I also serve on several boards including The Santa Clara County Collaborative, West Valley Community Services and soon several others if confirmed. HOP's opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any of these organizations.  All of us, HOPPEOPLE,are proud to be citizens of the United States of America, and individuals and families that are entitled to all of the rights and protections of the United States Constitution.


And in deference to our current status, we are committed contributors and problem-solvers. It is our intention to help solve the growing and pernicious problem of homelessness that is growing by leaps and bounds within the American Commonwealth.  We are currently working alongside numerous government and faith-based institutions in the area (the one's who will receive input from the very class group that they purport to serve). And we are doing so without any financial support from any of these institutions, even though we are helping to confront America's current social pandemic - homelessness.


Clearly, the problem, that apparently neither Washington DC, nor most of corporate America is aware of, has reached critical mass. And, what has been done so far, minus the direct input and involvement of the identified patient-homeless-community, is not working.  More and more displaced Americans have been and are being relegated to streets, parks, shelter-programs and ravines, while houses, condominiums and apartments (some foreclosed upon) sit empty.


Having said that, several institutions in the Valley, however, are being impacted by our message. And more than a few organizations are already modifying their programs, based upon HOP's input and its business model. HOP's model consists of helping to understand that if good intentions are not properly channeled, that it will only exacerbate the problem, and lead to further dependency.


Although not as quickly as we would like to see it happen, outdoor citizens are beginning to understand that they will also have to make changes and work to solve their own problems - as opposed to waiting for someone or some other agency or institution ... to do their work for them. Partnerships are what is needed in the Valley and beyond, we believe.  To wit, we are teaching our erudite outdoor citizens to be both accountable and responsible, and to come up with creative ways, with our assistance, to make an honest living for themselves and their families - in deference to current conditions in America.


In other words, a change in both practice and strategy on either side is desperately needed - the helpers and the individuals who are being assisted. The mentally capable outdoor citizens will, themselves, need to take ownership of 'their own problems', if their problems are ever to be resolved.  The solutions that are currently in place, are all to often to appease a portion of society that believes that it can pay to have the menace go away.


Other caring individuals or institutions, faith-based, government and other, should provide strategic, tactical, sincere and meaningful partnering support.  How have we been so successful in terms of helping outdoor citizens and helping-institutions to revamp their programs and to modify their ways of thinking? We created tension, made our voices heard and began to teach a new and improved paradigm to former supply-side organizations in the region, and to outdoor citizens, the ones who would listen.  The organizations that have helped, consist of government agencies, as well as faith-based groups.


The church that permitted us to use their facility in order to create and organize HOP, free of charge, once served over 1200 meals a week. We helped them to understand, that with the best of intentions, they were merely underwriting the problem, creating more dependency and giving life to a problem that needed to be confronted in a more mature fashion.  The individuals who were being served (3-4-5 times weekly), were consumers only, 99% of them, instead of participants in their own recoveries.


Sadly, some of our people wanted to be paid if they were expected to clean up the feeding areas where they were fed, or to place their own trash in trash containers, sweep, mop the floors or to do anything. Another prominent Catholic Church in the area, after several warnings, finally stopped its extensive feeding program altogether.  Why? Outdoor citizens would trash their bathrooms, panhandle their parishioners and use illegal drugs at the church. Rewarding this kind of permissiveness, as some other faith-based groups ... are still doing will never help to solve the problem.


HOP urged this community and several other faith-based communities in the region to stop providing something for nothing, particularly to long-term chronic outdoor-citizens. After all, these groups were unwittingly conditioning our people to be co-dependent and to operate with a sense of (you owe me) entitlement! The rewards that are being provided for lawless, reckless anti-social behavior, has directly contributed to the ongoing behavior.


Today, in the manner that Jesus, Paul and Peter of scriptures did, the church who helped us has created a new recovery, help, participate and receive style program, that includes employment training ... More organizations need to eat a bit of humble pie in the region and to make similar changes.


Another prominent mega church from Milpitas California, changed its former, come, help, cook, feed, provide gifts ... This church brought in an army of workers to serve people of diverse nationalities, that differed from their own. And how were they rewarded, the outdoor citizens would simply walk away without doing anything to help them - some would eat steal from them, just as they were doing at other churches.


We used scriptures to get them to change their existing modus operandi. They didn't care for my interference initially, and I understand. However, I used scriptures to show them how they were doing just the opposite of what Jesus did, among the outdoor people of his time.  Today, all of us are all friends, and the outdoor citizens are being asked to be participants, and not recipients only in programs that benefit them the most.


By sharing our experiences, as informed veteran outdoor citizens, and by participating in public policy planning in the area, or offering constructive criticisms, other organizations, along with their personnel and members are not only listening - they are also beginning to sing a different tune.  It hurts to have to correct individuals, whose only intent was to offer sincere help and support to our people. However, more resources, from hereon, will be used to help individuals who are capable of and will work to overcome destitution and homelessness, as opposed to rewarding slovenly behavior in ingrates.


Actually, I had begun to wonder at one time, just how long would slovenly behavior be rewarded?  And there is and has been a payoff; in the final analysis our people will be, and some have already become contributors as opposed to beggars and dependents that are living in parks, begging on the streets or in the city and county's thoroughfares.


Second, by employing our methods, eventually, we will be able to expose and isolate the malingerers, the ones who will require a different method of intervention.  And certainly, we will have to come up with something else for malingerers to do, and there are more than a few outdoor citizens that fit into this mode. For some, malingering has become a satisfying lifestyle. Many of these individuals sadly have become drug and alcohol dependent!


And still, there are some great people living outdoors, the majority of them happen to be, I might add!  Having said that, there are an estimated 2 million outdoor citizens living in the USA at present, and the number is growing, exponentially. Keep in mind that for every domicile that is being foreclosed upon, one or more outdoor citizens were former residents!
--------------------------------------------------


Examine the following article from HOP's blogsite, www.hoppeople.org, entitled: Addicted to Homelessness, using a text from the bible found in Acts 3:9-11


9. And all the people saw him [who sat begging before] walking and praising God:
10. And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
11.And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.


A follow-up to last quarter's article, entitled, 'Addicted to Homelessness': After the people saw this man who sat for years, walking again, many of them ran to Solomon's colonnade (or porch). And they wondered, how could this be? Actually, that is what we are attempting to do at HOP,'The Outdoor Citizens Coalition & Think Tank of Santa Clara County California'.We are attempting to do the miraculous, to assist individuals to walk again, and hopefully others will come running.


Our work is cut out for us in that we are attempting to change existing paradigms, methods, social and public policy frameworks, along with questionable practices that often fail to work in the long-term.  And sadly, we have had to begin our work in a region of the country where faith-based groups, government institutions and the working public are arguably the most generous and caring in the nation.


Giving is what our people do in the Santa Clara Valley and beyond. However, we believe that the resources that are currently being expended, are not being used optimally. The same effort, along with the proper distribution of shrinking resources, could be put to work to help motivate outdoor citizens to do the same, and the ones that are already trying.


Resources should not be provided ad hominen, to able bodied individuals, who refuse to do anything to help themselves!  In other words, I am referring to the carrot and the stick approach - I recommend it, for it is necessary and must be employed with many of our outdoor citizens! By simply giving more, without any accountability or responsible behavior being attached to it, either by the giver or the receiver, means that all of us will keep getting what we have been getting.


And what is that, simply put, more and more hard-core and in some instances lawless beggars, and church groups and government treasuries running out of money, and an increasingly exasperated public that is loosing its patience!  Too many religious individuals, including clerics, have fallen into the same trap that Peter fell into. Or better yet, remember the story of Moses, in it God had to remind him to use the power that was already within his control.


Frankly, many Americans are lost, confused and shocked by what has been and is transpiring in the American economic market place. In fact, other than by going to school, sending out resumes or signing up at employment centers or online to apply for a position that does not exist, too many Americans are lost.  Many displaced American workers don't appear to have a clue how to take care of themselves or their loved ones under America's current rubric of high unemployment (the result of greed, globalization, consolidation, automation, ... and a former sense of entitlement!


For over half-a-century, high-paying jobs were abundant in America, however, that is not the case anymore.  And therefore the second part of our challenge is to do the following: Help to convince the recipients of the area's and the government's ... supply-side largess programs (to include food, clothing, medical help, medicine, shelters, free bus passes, housing ...), that times have changed - and they will have to adapt.


We have to make an effort to get displaced Americans to understand that if they intend to make it in the new American/World-wide competitive economy, without becoming dependents, that they will have to do things in a different way than they did in the past. Depending on job creation by others, is and has become passe!


A shrinking middle-class, faith-based groups and government agencies, won't be able to take care of a expanding, formerly employed working class into perpetuity. By teaching the underemployed and unemployed to complete resumes, or to simply practice their interviewing skills (in an economy where the jobs are going away), is not the solution either!


Today, we live in a mostly every person for himself, income-producing economy!


HOP gives kudos to Stanford grad and CEO, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, current president of Clarium Capital and Executive Board Member at Facebook, for encouraging entrepreneurship.  He also put his money where his mouth is by investing seed money-resources, in would be entrepreneurs, instead of simply feeding them while leaving them where they are - sleeping on the ground.


Here is a wealthy individual, who is doing something in a realistic and pragmatic fashion in order to help solve America's unemployment problem.  Mind you, he is not rewarding dependency - instead he is giving individuals, who want a real chance to help themselves, and likely others by providing future employment for themselves and other people, the opportunity to try. Imagine if just 10 of the one's who received the right kind of help, came up with an idea that could help to re-employ their comrades?


Give that man a cigar, he could have simply permitted his money to sit like other wealthy individuals are doing!  There are a lot of outdoor citizens with advanced degrees, that are living in parks. Imagine, if just 10 of them came up with business ideas that could result in them re-employing both them and a few of their counterparts, as opposed to waiting on handouts?


Similar to President Thiel, we believe that by teaching individuals who can't find work, how to work for themselves instead, is the answer - even when it means cleaning gutters, painting numbers on curbs, mowing lawns, shearing hedges, farming or by coming up with the next Facebook or Google perhaps.  All too often, displaced American workers who have been down-sized out of companies spiral down and become completely dependent on handouts, in a system where the resources are already drying up or ending up in the pockets of a few. The latter I often refer to as an economic watershed.


The same individuals have forgotten what they already possess, many of them: educations, years of proprietary training, experience and skillsets, that they already have underneath their belts. We are teaching outdoor citizens how to use those same skillsets, previous training and past experiences (if nothing else to make a living not only for themselves but for their families and a few others in today's even more specialized economy).


Keep in mind, commodities and services are still needed, even for the aging baby-boomers - and I am one of them, graying hair and all - eek!  Or as I heard one of the characters on a sitcom television program show say last night, some of our outdoor people, "might have to attend Rap University]", in order to earn a living. Many individuals, even outdoor citizens, fail to realize that they have something of value to offer, they do not have to work for other organizations, or beg.


At HOP, we are grooming a new crop of entrepreneurs and hopefully several future employers, of the kind who will be able to learn to think outside of the box. Our methods include teaching individuals to take 'baby steps' first, and eventually to stand up on their own 2 feet and and to walk again.  The end result is that individuals who have given up, will be able to stand up and walk on their own 2 feet and become productive achievers in the new world-wide economy.


Clearly, either side is dependent upon the other for survival when operating under the current paradigm, one to receive government aid, grants, donations and other freebies without merit - and the other (typically inside of an agency) to receive a paycheck ... for distributing the free goodies. Something has to give!  The first group, the dependency supply-sider's group typically offers their clients unconditional positive regard or support, however, and on the other hand, they are oftentimes unconditional and unintentional enablers.


The reason being that while maintaining paid positions (under the guise of solving the problem that is oftentimes on the inside of a massive bureaucracy that is rife with fraud and corruption), they only bolster and create more dependency - by rewarding dependency. Why?  All too often, these organizations fail to hold their or the client's that they make their livings off, feet to the proverbial fire. Often, there is a lack of oversight and accountability in place, to certify that the dollars being spent are achieving the desired results - the kind that the public (especially the taxpayers) would like to see.


Think about it, what would happen to them if their clients were to have resolve their problems, the supply-sider institutions and their personnel, would loose their reason for existing.  And therefore, the supply-sider institutions have an ephemeral need to keep the problem (even the outdoor citizen problem firmly in place). You don't believe me? How many foundations, and other 501(c)3 organizations phone you at your home or business that request, keep 98% of your donations for in-house?


Ergo, no pain no gain, and in the end an enormous sum of resources that could be used to help invest in individuals to help them to get going again, continues to go down into a massive sink hole, to the tune of billions of dollars. Many of our outdoor citizens recognize that it 'pays to be homeless', unfortunately.  And it is truly unfortunate that the indiscriminate amounts of taxpayer ... dollars that are being spent on outdoor citizens, along with free gifts, actually reward dependency, inertia and slovenly behavior -folks, this is not discretionary spending!


On the other hand, institutionalized begging has become a burgeoning cottage industry locally, if not across the nation. I don't have to tell you that, simply consider all of the non-profit organizations that have popped up lately in your area!  Neither side, the suppliers or the recipients up to this juncture, wants to see the other go away. Both the recipients of government, social services and faith-based largess, all have a stake in the supply-side dynamic.


Waste and fraud in the housing sector, costs American taxpayers, to the tune of, billions of dollars each year. Consider this, a person who is out of work will eventually receive free-housing and in some instances, paid-insurance, free transportation, food, medicine, clothing, sleeping bags ... while doing nothing to merit it!  So you are thinking, what motivates HOP's outdoor citizens (over 100 of us at last count and still growing), to behave any different from our malingering counterparts? 


Or, you are thinking, haven't your people benefited from some of the very programs that you have benefited from, and now are criticizing?  Our answer is, yes on both counts. And as result “we" have learned by experience what can happen when subsidies are used as a reward, in deference to stopping the bleeding. We learned quickly!  And the fact of the matter is that we are not attempting to close the door on individuals who are in need of emergency support.  
But at the same time, we are attempting to get all sides to understand that participation by the ones in need, must be a requirement, if there is to be a successful outcome.
Otherwise, what should have been a temporary condition, will be replaced with a permanent condition that relies upon the nation's largess to support it.  We are trying to open a new door of opportunity among the dispossessed population of Americans. And, as citizens of the United States of America ourselves, don't forget that - it is our desire to protect the treasury, and goodhearted Americans who try to show their love by giving.


We have a responsibility to use what should be a temporary gift or grant, to help us, or any American citizen to get up and to get going again, as opposed to turning giving and receiving into a lifestyle. Many outdoor citizens who were receiving assistance, and living in shelters, when we fell, are still living off of and enjoying the largess of other Americans.  By making good use of the resources that we received, we are (outdoor citizens) repaying the public and other charitable and faith-based groups for the temporary assistance, which can be used to help other individuals to get going again - by doing what we are doing today!


Some of us believe that our having ended up where we did before, albeit for a short period of time, may have been a part of our destiny - that is to take what we have learned and share it with both groups (in order to help turn things around in America).  The members of what appears to be a permanent and growing American underclass needs our help, even though it may be painful for them to listen to us, at first. I learned a long time ago, that you can do the right thing, the wrong way, which can and often does lead to disastrous results.


"We believe that by feeding the problem, no pun intended, or by supporting dependency that neither tactic will help to resolve the problem, they will only help the problem to persist, if not grow even bigger".  A substantial portion of the nationwide outdoor citizens demographic, 66% of the homeless in some regions of the country, are veterans of foreign wars.  


Thankfully, the Federal government is coming to grips with the problems of homeless Vietnam-era veterans who are returning from both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Warehousing able veterans under unsanitary condition, isn't the solution either. Consider the conditions that veterans were living under, when discovered at Walter Reed in the nation's capitol, several years ago.


Exactly, what will happen to America once 2 out of every 4 Americans, perhaps 150m or so, rely on government agencies, subsidies, strapped faith-based organizations ... to supply survival needs? Under the current paradigm, that is where we seem to be headed, if things don't soon change.  In time, we would have to tear down the houses and buildings in urban centers and replace them with park lands, because the majority of Americans will be living outdoors again - and at the same time domiciles sit unoccupied.


At the OCCTT, we recognize the direction in which the nation is headed. Why? Because we have been there, and many of our members are still experiencing both sides of the divide – even though we are working daily and often alone mostly, to help to change the current dynamic and therefore to stem the tide.  If something isn't done soon, to alter the nation's current heading, we believe that the nation is heading to an economic abyss, of the kind that will rival, if not surpass what took place during the Great Depression.


America will have to foreclose, or find itself in the condition of several European nations, take Greece for example, if it doesn't wake up. Apparently, that is what the Republicans in the House seem to believe! We are doing all that we can, as outdoor citizens, to help both sides to alter America's present heading towards an economic collapse.  We are in the process of reversing our losses and helping ourselves and other current outdoor citizens to create income producing opportunities, of the kind that we neither trained nor went to school for. Preaching for dollars is not my thing either, we have enough American Capitalist Church preachers, too many I might add!


And don't forget that if the nation keeps heading in the wrong direction, there will still be hundreds of millions of Americans, hungry and homeless - along with a soaring unpaid national debt,  Should the rich share their wealth? The question is moot. The real question is, do they (most of them) look like they are going to share/invest their their wealth?


Many of our billionaires talk about sharing the wealth, and giving money to charity, however, besides Bill Gates and a few others, when will that happen, and should it happen? Hopefully, whenever they decide to share the wealth (tee hee), they will share the wealth with organizations that help people to get up and to get going again.  Too much money is simply sitting in hedge funds ... that could be used to help retrain individuals and to get the economy going again. Sadly, the individuals who are sitting on incredible wealth, that they can never spend in hundreds of lifetimes, aren't helping or investing in the American people, not enough of them.


Now, even though some of them are reticent to help in a meaningful fashion, but are giving to charity simply to receive a write-off, there are legitimate causes that many of them could invest in that would result in a return on their investment (ROI), as opposed to sinking more money into supply side sink holes, and simply for tax write off purposes. Perhaps, we should change our names to something catchy like Oil Futures!


And if some of our wealthy tycoons can only think of the profit-motives, remember, someone has to buy your products and services. This could be a way for you to increase your customer base - after all.  It has been reported that four-hundred Americans have the equivalent wealth of 123 million Americans. Now, how did that happen?


We invite them, uber-rich Americans who are less than one-tenth of a percent of the American population, to simply do the math, and instead help to underwrite the costs of sound recovery plans in organizations that are already in place, and the ones that are to a follow. A cheap plug for HOP did you say, and why not? We are trying to help - we are not asking to be supported the rest of our lives.  At the very least, all of us agree that poverty should not be underwritten, encouraged or buttressed by anyone. Supply-siders, and poverty pimps will have to learn that by doing so, it only helps to keep impoverished individuals in poverty for a longer period of time, if not forever.


Too often, even though we are beginning to witness some improvement in this area, outdoor-citizens are often an afterthought when it comes to developing or shaping social and public policy that will work. Often it would appear that the supply-siders, who are not accustomed to having representatives from our unique demographic at the planning table, would prefer that we stay away.                 
                                                                                                           The attitude of some institutions, even faith-based ones, appears to be, “shut up”, or on the other hand, "we will tolerate you as we go about the business of saving your worthless lives". I have also sat at the table with many a do gooder organization, who have their own agendas in place to 'save the whales', without knowing a thing about the whales or outdoor citizens for that matter! Can you say, waste?


Sadly, with these types, not even an outdoor citizen that has input or a plan to help, is going to interfere with their Faustian ideas, given their self-conceived ideals and idealism. Clearly, that kind of attitude, and the policies that follow will not help to resolve the problem, it only prolongs the problem.  These individuals and groups (similar to a PG&E President,will make a living, whether there is any improvement or not, it might not be the same as a golden parachute - however, it is fairly similar - except they remain on the job - and help to perpetuate the problem!


And as a result, a lot of money, time and energy has been and will continues to be wasted or lost, and conditions pretty much remain the same.Too many supply-siders have not spent one day experiencing homelessness, or in some instances abject poverty for that matter.  Sadly, supply-siders are often do-gooders who are on a personal mission of their own making. They are create their own self-inspired, I know what you need, policies and practices.  


However much speaking at public forums … increasing one's own personal visibility, or rising up the societal ladder matters to them, it is not helping to solve the problem of homelessness, or to come up with any lasting solutions.


Simply consider the current unemployment rate in California,the county, the city or the nation for that matter. No matter which indices you prefer, more and more unhoused and housed Americans (in some instances) are either unemployed, underemployed, furloughed, part-time workers, or going to food banks to acquire staples.  And yet, many of them are not un-housed. Americans seek help, even working Americans, to garner staples and other items that will supplement their shrinking and inadequate incomes.


Disruption is needed on both sides. It is is the answer that we believe will eventually take America into a new heading, one that will yield the desired results. And what are the desired results?  The answer is that not only Californians, but all Americans, to include young-adults, college graduates, seniors … will learn to use their ingenuity and skill sets, as they prepare to earn a living again under the new paradigm as opposed to living from hand to mouth. Yes, the growing senior class is already suffering!


We believe that in time (real-time hopefully), that the groups that helped to create, sustain and maintain the poverty status quo relationships in our region and elsewhere, along with the beneficiaries of crippling supply-side economic paralysis (who have been lying around, waiting and begging at the temples), will both stop it.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                          The gift of a lame-man being able to get up and to walk again instead of begging, happened, when Peter employed a different method than the one that he had used before, that of helping a man to stand and walk instead of providing him with another handout.


The net result was that decades of co-dependency and begging at the Temple, immediately came to an end, and a man was able to go and take care of himself again and to inspire others to do the same, apparently. The same thing can happen in the Valley and beyond, however, it will require change on both sides, just as change was required with Peter and the lame man. However, we must change the current paradigm and belief system in the Valley and elsewhere. Service, should not be confused with crippling someone by giving them too much.


Already, we are reaching out to other agencies ... and speaking in front of a variety of audiences, to include other outdoor-citizens in the area in order to teach change. If something isn't done soon, there will be more and more unabashed beggars on the streets of America, in front of Target and Safeway stores or on sidewalks and American thoroughfares.  There will also be more robberies, burglaries and shakedowns taking place all over America. Keep in mind that many of the individuals that are ending up on the streets, are ex-convicts. And some of these dudes are mean, not all, just some of them, and they are teaching others to be con men and con women!


Section 2
Author Derrick Bell, in his book, 'Faces At The Bottom of the Well', wrote:"if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting".And most Americans know firsthand, that not only are we getting what we have been getting, there appears not to be an end in sight.  The give and give more again paradigm is solidly in place in America!


HOP, with a vision, minuscule resources (the work is all being done here by unpaid volunteers, former and current outdoor citizens and with the help of a few donors), is using these resources, our experiences, our wits and a new paradigm in order to help to turn lives around.  Already, we are witnessing lives being transformed, and outdoor citizens taking charge of their lives, their personal destinies or standing upright again - and we just got started.


What we are doing at HOP, that appears to be working, benefits outdoor citizens, the city, county, state and the entire nation. We provide space, a place, professional training, desks, computers, business and marketing plans ... where research can be done and ideas put into practice. This is opposite the mission of poverty supply-siders.  The winds of change are blowing in the valley, the nation and the world for that matter. Individuals and organizations that learn to shift with the current, will succeed, we believe.


It is our hope that other outdoor-citizens (who up to this time have preferred the methods that are currently in place, (that have not worked) and rather supports dependency, or receiving something for doing nothing, will be motivated to try something different - at the very least we can help to save the next generation.  It is also our hope, that organizations in the area that support dependency will soon follow suit and join us (even when it means swallowing pride, and simply admitting that what worked before is not working today, the problem is expanding).                                                 


The Apostle Peter, a fisherman who still had plenty of fish to give away, stopped giving alms to a chronic beggar.  Instead, he helped lift a man to his feet so that he could walk on his own 2 feet again. But only when the Apostle's paradigm changed, did the lame man's paradigm change.


Readers who are familiar with 'disruption theory', understand that from time to time there has to be a change in the customary manner of doing things, and with the methods that have been used before; that is if an individual or organization plans to keep pace or turn things around. In other words, adaptability is required.  Even a once great idea (the free delivery ice wagon, black and white TV, typewriters … eventually runs its course and needs to be replaced). 
Smart leaders, and managers on the cutting-edge, recognize when it is time to improve, create and to do something differently.
Several organizations, some of notoriety in Silicon Valley, failed to forecast or re-evaluate their processes - particularly, the ones that worked for a period of time in the past, and they suffered as a result. America, and Americans have also failed to heed the signs of knowing when to change.  To that end, several once venerable organizations, in the once booming Silicon Valley, have recently been overtaken by upstart organizations that didn't exist a decade ago.


Why? Because the leaders of the organizations failed to keep up, or to recognize that from time to time, even a venerable organization has to recognize when it is time to change its mission, its methods and ways of doing things.  Some institutions,  ignored the Law of Accelerating returns, and failed to keep up with the pace. Consider, what has taken place in the the Republic of China and the other emerging global markets today, and the 'huge sucking sound', that we hear coming from the American economy.


The ROC tried something different, and with its new leadership at the top, has come out of the dark ages in just under a few decades. The Republic of China is threatening to alter the existing world order. And the majority of its 1.2 billion people, all used to be poor. China has demonstrated what can happen, when the right forces are put into place


America on the other hand, stayed too long with what had been working before, and it is costing all of us. And the net result is that citizens of other nations are prospering, and Americans have 'changed places' with them.  Arrogance, over-confidence, elitism at play, perhaps?  Successful businesses that plan to survive or to thrive under existing changing conditions, also recognize the need to be as effective as they are efficient and therefore to modify or change their practices at certain peak and off-peak junctures.


The Valley, in my opinion, with Federal and State help, has effectively underwritten (and you might say written off) what appears to be a increasing, burgeoning and expanding permanent underclass. It cost billions of dollars to support that class group, when you take into consideration the failing infrastructure that is currently in place.  There are an estimated 7,000 outdoor citizens in the Santa Clara County region alone, who will continue to depend on the system for life-long support, if something realistic isn't done soon.


The composition of the outdoor-citizen's demographic includes women, children and men from a number of different ethnic groups, both American and foreign born. Certain members of this burgeoning permanent underclass, have been on the dole, for 5, 7, 10 and 12 years, periods that have eclipsed either or both of the two major Silicon Valley or national recessions.


The supply-siders will continue to respond to the demand, instead of helping to change the dynamic. Several of these organizations, as HOP has experienced already, operate like a impenetrable syndicate of who's who's, in the valley. We have observed that some of the political figures in our area, are a part of these syndicates.  HOP, has made numerous attempts to get the councilmen in District 3, and some ministers to respond to the numerous messages that we have left for them. Hmm!!


Since my return from the nation's capitol several years ago, I ended up living in a shelter, a church's rear office, on a park bench and at the Salvation Army for a few nights (and did I mention with dear friends)?  I immediately recognized and took ownership of  'my problem', and observed that of my new cohort group,  the helping community of agencies and faith-based groups, as a result of living among the outdoor citizens' demographic in Santa Clara Valley.


I took special note of what was taking place with well-intended government, social services and faith-based groups in the area.  I not only made observations, I asked the tough questions, and took notes as I went about my work, on both sides of the Bay (to include the People's Park in Berkeley, and parks, shelters, feeding programs ... in Santa Clara Valley).


The First Church of Christian Science on Dwight Way in Berkeley was most helpful, Priscilla, a member of the church, was my teacher and guide. Rosie, a long-time resident of the People's Park and Terri (who was affectionately known as 'the Compost Lady', because she planted flowers and vegetables in the park to feed the outdoor-citizens there, were both extremely helpful.


I began to collaborate with outdoor citizens, as well as with service providers and faith-based groups on both sides of the Bay, in hopes of trying to determine what course of action should be taken in order to change the current dynamic (in the most prosperous and progressive state in the world, as far as I was and am concerned).


The first thing that I observed and took note of, was that the outdoor citizens were mostly non-participants in their own recoveries.  In other words, the most important component was often missing from the policy and planning table. Second, I noticed that there was a percentage of the outdoor-citizens demographic who were satisfied with the way that things were operating at the time, 'receive, and you shall receive more types I call them'!  And then there was the group that I will refer to as 'the helping-naive, who for personal or political reasons were overly involved, even though they were not helping to bring about change. 


Some outdoor citizens required support help true enough, however, others were and still are unabashed moochers. What kind of help was and is still needed, was the question that I attempted to answer.  The latter group, I concluded, needed what the lame beggar at the temple needed, someone to help to lift them from the metaphorical ground where they often begged.  These individuals needed to get on with their lives instead of depending on handouts.


I also recognized that there were physically and mentally handicapped individuals that were also in need of a supportive lift, instead of a wheelchair for life.  The Deinstitutionalization Act, sadly, one of late President Ronald's proud accomplishments, has been disastrous for many individuals, who are in need of in-house mental health services.  If someone were to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, I'm certain that it would show that the cost to America has been far more egregious, than a time when individuals who required hospitalization were hospitalized


Helping people is a balancing act, one that requires training, vision, wisdom, an ear to hear, analysis, strength and discernment. Otherwise, good caring people with the best of intentions, often end up being pawns in the hands of a sleighter!  Many caregivers ... have unwittingly become pawns in someone elses manipulative (occasionally political) games.


Aside from the fact that some outdoor citizens who lack a conscience, would pull the whole system down with them in deference to the ones who require genuine help - at times it appears as if many of the supply-siders (who are supposed to be change agents), have experienced Stockholm Syndrome.


In other words, they have become one with the individuals that they are supposed to be serving!


Retired Stanford professor, from the Department of Psychology, Dr. Zimbardo, could explain this firsthand given his work with the Stanford Prison Experiments and what took place at Abu Ghraib.  In fact, I was stunned, given the responses and feedback that I received from several service providers in the region who we asked to collaborate. Several of them were were more perturbed with my suggesting that change needed to take place, than they were with the individuals (some malingerers) who were co-dependent with them, their agencies and other faith-based groups.


Again, in too many instances outdoor citizens are still not participating in their own recoveries - and too many service providers, faith-based groups, agencies ... want to rescue, rather than help their clients to get up and walk again. This is what happens when you outsource your responsibility to another, be they person, religious group or agency.  It was incredible to me, the amount of resources that were being expended, misappropriated or provided (to include dollars and human capital), that was being used to solve a problem for outdoor citizens wherein outdoor citizens had zero input, were not cooperating, or for whatever reason were simply not involved!


At present, HOP, several other organizations and individuals in the area are ahead of the curve (in terms of recognizing a need for disruption in the systems in this region). I have joined forces with current and former outdoor citizens, and a few organizations and faith-based groups, who want to help to make a difference in the lives of our demographic.


We will be doing this while too many of the rest are saving us!


The incredible amount of resources being expended by government, along with direct handouts on the streets by citizens, and dollars being spent by faith-based and other institutions in the region, have reached critical mass.  And as mentioned before, there are approximately 7,000 outdoor citizens, who remain outdoor citizens in this region. In other words, instead of crisis-resolving measures being implemented, most institutions in the area, have accepted homelessness, I believe, as a condition.


Change is being provided (in a monetary sense), but not in a practical sense, that is helping individuals who need to get to work to make the requisite changes, with support, to do so!  HOP, other individuals, organizations and groups in the area who believe in what we are doing - are working to alter the current dynamic. And we plan to do so, not only among the outdoor citizens' demographic, but also among agencies, faith-based groups and services providers that are co-dependent with chronic outdoor citizens, in time.


Individuals who are capable of helping themselves, and have found that “it is cheaper to keep her', the freebies, require inspiration (to include negative sanctions) in order to motivate them to get up and to get going again.  I am speaking about the ones that can help themselves with a minimal amount of supervisorial help, but have given in to supply-side handouts ...


And that is the reason why HOP had to create its own creative think tank agency and development training center. Now what is truly sad about this is that some individuals and institutions, who make their living off of the homeless, don't seem to want to have much to do with a professional outdoor citizen's organization that has an understanding of the problem.  Remember, our organization is staffed with recovering individuals who have been there, some still are living outside, but have something to say, that ought to be listened to by anyone who wants to help.  Hmm!


Well, who is this Solomon dude anyway, they are likely thinking, a man who popped up in town from Washington DC several years ago; we're in charge here? To some, to them I am certain, that I appear to be a loud mouth, who has as much as said that the service-providers … in this area ... are co-dependent with the outdoor citizen's demographic in this area, many of them.


And besides that, some are thinking at first, I suppose, "I have been in this fight for some time now and who is he (an outdoor citizen) to come walking in here, Mr. High and Mighty, to tell us or me, what to do with our or my money?   "You can never tell another man what to do with his money", someone close to me used to say.  On the other hand, I would welcome any individual who could tell me how to get the maximum benefit from my, the government's or my church group's money.  


And the final answer to the naysayers query is this, I am your friend.   And, I could turn the question around and ask, who are you to turn away an outdoor citizen who wants to help outdoor citizens and you for or your group for that matter, that is if your mission is as altruistic as you claim that it is?   Remember, even Jesus had to stop the miracle feeding crusade that he started, at the beginning of his public ministry, he having said that the people were only following him for food and miracles - not to turn their lives around.


If what any of us are doing, or attempting to do is not helping to change lives, those that can, then we need to ask ourselves whether the strategy that I or my group happens to be employing, is the best one, or is there a better way to accomplish the mission?


Are our missionaries, both public and private, willing to revise the strategy in an overwhelmed system that is not working?


Oftentimes, my fellow members of the cloth need to hear this the most. Some of them are 'hell-bent' on rescuing people, or let's put it another way, 'engaging in  works alone'. One leading church, located in downtown San Jose, has been blessed with incredible financial resources.  This church is intent upon rescuing people, by doing good works, the latter also makes them feel good about themselves.


However, is it good works alone that the outdoor citizens really need? Sadly, these kind of churches often end up being used, and even worse, by employing their methods, the outdoor citizens that they purport to serve remain destitute, dependent and in the same place.


This prominent church with a dearth of financial resources, (their pastor appears to believe that by simply spending money, that problems are being solved). I recall what happened when Jesus and a boy with a few fishes and a few loaves of bread, helped to feed a group as large as the outdoor citizens group in Silicon Valley, without money. How?


Jesus, got the crowd involved by jump starting the process, and afterward, there was more food left over than was apparent at the time because individuals in the crowd were included in the strategy.  Too many outdoor citizens who choose to be left out, and others who are being left out, are not incentivised to help themselves. And that is what faith-based and other organizations are doing with the outdoor citizens in most communities today.  


In other words, 'stop spending pastor(s) and get God, the right vision and the people involved'! How dare I say this? I am a minister on sabbatical dudes, I remind you: Paul withstood Peter to his face, Jesus confronted the Pharisees and Sadducee's of his time and some of our local clerics need to be confronted and challenged from time to time!



At times, I can be very curt, when I want to be, however, it is intended to be useful.  To these type of individuals who I make angry by criticizing them, all I can say is: Take your thumb out of your mouths, because there is more at stake here than a  damaged ego.  Truthfully, I've only experienced a couple of individuals (including clerics) that I would consider to be 'true jerks, individuals who are on mission of their making, have forgotten that "our ways, are not always God's ways"!


Am I a T-Partier, or an individual on the Right who believes in a redistribution of wealth that will inure to the benefit of a certain class group, the one that needs it the least? Nyat! However, will the rest of us sit on our laurels, and help the rich to get richer and turn around and cry about it.  Each one of us has the same right to compete with anyone else, even to compete for market-share, inside and outside of America. In other words, why criticize either the organizations or individuals that we continue to patronize, and wait for them to employ either you or me, while criticizing them? 


Figure out a way, to start your own business, instead.  That is what we are teaching outdoor citizens to do, to get back in the game.  Anyway, don't get upset with me, I am on the side of what I believe is right, and I would like to help if I can to break through the powerful matrix of caregivers ... that exists in this area, whose apparently misdirected hard-work is not yielding the desired result.  Someone pointed out that when President Obama spoke at Facebook, in downtown Palo Alto a month ago, he even failed to stop and speak with the outdoor citizens who were just a block away. 


Instead, he raised millions of dollars for his campaign. Just imagine what all of those millions could have done to create opportunities for the outdoor citizens demographic in this region?  And don't feel bad if you feel turned off at first by me, many of the outdoor citizens who have been enjoying a comfy existence as a result of the area's largess, wish that I would shut up and go away too! Can you blame them?   Here I am, Solomon, creating disruption and spoiling the party for some of them, whenever I start shouting from my porch.  How would you like it if someone was tampering with a way of living that costs you nothing? In fact, when you think about it, some of our outdoor citizens are confirmed whiners.  


I know, you can't say that!.  And you cannot say it aloud, because you haven't been there, and I understand that.  However, I can, and oftentimes do just that, 'I say to some of our malingers, what you cannot say'! This combination of supply-siders and whiners, is another big part of the problem that we will have to deal with, in order to eviscerate the area's homeless issues.


These are actually two polarizing power groups present and accounted for!


Some years ago, I argued a similar position with a group of do-gooier social workers ... who converged on Washington DC, just over 2 decades back. I was an invited delegate.  Service providers, from all other the nation, converged on Washington DC in1984, to focus on nationwide social and public policy issues. Approximately 1,000 of us, spent the week in the nation's Capitol at a forum that was put together by The United Neighborhood Centers of America. 


Our objective was to, among other things, discuss ways to help solve the problems of America's burgeoning permanent underclass, that was so prevalent in the inner cities at the time, approximately 20 years ago, and not much has changed.


We caucused every day for one week, listened to speakers, engaged in discussions and debates, met with Representatives, created policy papers ... Eventually, the bleeding hearts among us came around.  For example, on one occasion, when we were drafting a policy paper, I explained to my colleagues that they were guilty of being idealistic, but not very realistic. The latter is a problem that often persists and plagues most service providers and service provider agencies.


Why? Services-providers typically are people who have hearts of compassion (I wish everyone did), and desire to help. Our downside is that oftentimes idealism, trumps realism or pragmatism – we don't care what it costs, let's just do it. Not good, I explained!  Our delegates were not being very realistic when it came to addressing the needs of America's permanent underclass back then, much like it is being done today.


At the time, the average per capital income in the inner city was around 9K, and Congress has just voted a 15% raise for themselves. Nearly 3 decades later, the average per capital income in some urban centers still hovers around 15K, one area is adjacent to Capitol Hill just on the other side of the Anacostia River.  Prior to leaving Washington (in 1983), neither my first nor my last time working on social, urban and public-policy issues by the way at the Congressional level, there was a change of heart.


Many of the individuals who came to bleed for America's permanent underclass, as opposed to coming up with some realistic proposals and solutions, helped to put together something with teeth in it, before we left, something that we could present to the politicians.  I hope that some of our bleeding hearts in the Valley will eventually recognize that they will have to do something similar in The Valley, engage in introspection. 


Let me put it another way, 'stop enabling the able-bodied outdoor citizens, would you please, and instead help to plan for and participate in both your and their recoveries"!
Many of our outdoor citizens need to feel the kind of pain that will shock their sensibilities, and hopefully, holt them back into action, in order to jumpstart their lives. Pain, can be a powerful motivator for positive social change, and to reverse lethargy and inaction.  Given the number of individuals that are unhoused in the area and living on someone elses's floor... given all of the manpower and resources that have been expended and distributed, wouldn't you say at some point, that what has successfully worked before, is simply not working today?


The crisis is worsening, and the Republican House has already proposed to role HUD Funding for example, back to 2007 levels, as a starting point.  It is time for disruption, and a change from the old ways of doing things, to take place. For example, when outdoor citizens come to you and beg for handouts, either on the streets or at your agency: “Tell Them Where To Go", in other words where you send your money to in order to assist them and where they can be held accountable and worked with in recovery programs.


Explain to them that a organization with skilled personnel will help them to get going again. Whatever you do, stop supporting begging and dependency.  You are only are reinforcing bad habits, which will only result in re-enforcing long-term chronic dependency. Again, tell them where to go 'in order to meet your money', and to get the type of help that they need!  Jesus believed in, and taught his audience members to be responsible, as poor as they were. 


It seems to me that some of the faith-based groups, agencies, and recipients of all of the public's and their congregation's largess in this area, are intent upon doing just the opposite.  Too many of them are busily maintaining the "we will take care of you status quo”. Let me give you an example:  Too often, the outdoor citizens get everything for free in this area, to the extent that other outdoor citizens, that I have personally met and talked to, travelled to this area from other parts of the state and the nation,because they have heard 'just how sweet it is in Santa Clara County'.  


Even San Franciscans travel, 40 miles down the peninsula (to the Southbay), in order to get what they cannot get their hands on in San Francisco. Our current Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, when he was mayor of San Francisco, recommended that Bay Area cities, work together in order to deal with this cross-pollinating phenomenon.  Some San Josean's, seem to be in denial about this phenomenon, that more and more is becoming a condition.


Outdoor Citizens from as far away as San Diego... come here to take advantage of the area's largess, which impacts already limited resources.  From all across the nation they come, is it any wonder that one out of every 7 or 8 Americans is a Californian? 


And even though I admire the spirit of giving in this area, I was even helped when my fortunes turned, however, with this caveat: I immediately engaged in a personal recovery plan, along with the fact that I spent decades paying into a system, despite an 8 year sabbatical in the nation's Capitol, from 2000 to 2007.


My plan worked for me, and now I am teaching other outdoor citizens how a well thought out recovery plan can work for them.  However, many of the helping organizations in this area neither understand when they are doing too much without a return on their investment, nor when the able minded and bodied outdoor citizens are not doing enough to help themselves.  Many of our outdoor citizens haven’t sat down to consider or to construct a recovery plan for themselves yet, and some of their professional and semi-professional helpers don't seem to mind, that they have not done so!


Outdoor citizens, ought to be required to take action steps themselves before receiving more than very basic help.  And afterward, when they are helped, benchmarks with verifiable targets ought to be put into place, accompanied by frequent compliance reviews. Otherwise, permit the ones who refuse to do anything to help themselves, experience 'The Pain Station'. Let them know up front that the short-term help that will be provided at the onset, will be cut off in time.


The by-product of all of the, 'we will solve your problems for you', that too many of our chronic outdoor citizens, are experiencing, some for a decade or more, is that many of our outdoor citizens have remained right where they have been long before I, and others like me, got involved in the fight.  While being supported without condition, there are a number of outdoor citizens who lost jobs, homes, apartments ... did so before the most recent recession, and some before the recession in this region in 2001. 


I know of an able body and mind outdoor citizen, who was panhandling in the 1980's, who is still panhandling, over 2 decades later, I was told.  At the time, I mistakenly helped him too, not understanding at the time, that this gentleman was a 'careen panhandler'.  Sadly, outdoor citizens are cashing in on the give away bounty!


Has there been any accountability? What happened, given all of the resources that have been expended over the past 3 years alone? I cannot see any appreciable results, at least nothing to boast about. We can blame what has transpired on the the economy ... however, that is not the whole story.  Over-dependence on a free handout economy, including a guaranteed job is the problem. It is time for a new way of thinking and reckoning to be put into action - consider HOP's model.


I can't seem to get some faith-based groups to understand that not even Jesus, continued his 'miracle healing feeding crusade', once he realized that his program enabled individuals (who were merely following him in order to obtain fish food, and other miracles).  At HOP, the Think Tank and Advocacy organization, one that is comprised of current and former outdoor citizens mind you - we are teaching a new paradigm. Hopefully, others will get on board and try something new for a change.


One HOP member proposed a slogan 2-days ago that will be incorporated, with regard to street and other beggars, and it is:  REFUSE TO GIVE CHANGE TO PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO CHANGE. This slogan compliments, the new TELL THEM WHERE TO GO slogan that we came up with!


In other words, don't give any more money to anyone on the streets, or at the expressway exits.


Again, instead of giving on the streets, send your money to responsible and ethical organizations; and at the same time tell the beggar where to go where he can be helped, supervised, monitored and given a helping hand (if he or she will do what they are told in order to help themselves.  Giving on the streets ... has only buttressed begging, undermined accountability, and encouraged the  lack of effort to change in the lives of beggars.  Again, we know some things that some don't know, because we've been there and listened to the comments of some our outdoor people. 


Many of our team members are already working to turn their lives around - instead of being dependent on a system that doesn't work to help individuals to get up and to get going again, sadly.  During my last person-to-person meeting with late Congressman Augustus Hawkins of the 21st district in Los Angeles when in Washington DC and before he passed on - he told me something. 


He said, you can actually do more back at home by working with the ones who are in need in the community, than you can get down here in Washington DC …”  Many other Representatives in Washington, for example late Representative John Seiberling of Ohio ... echoed the same sentiment and shared similar advice. Practically every Representative that I spoke with, admitted that Washington was in gridlock.


Representative Conyers from Michigan, once explained to a group of us in DC, that a certain bill that he tried to get on the floor for 25 years, was never permitted to come to the floor ... for a vote. Washington, as most Americans already know has been deadlocked - well that is unless you are an organization that owns one or more of the 300,000 or more registered (mostly corporate) lobbyists in this nation (who will do your bidding for you), then you will likely get you what you want.


Is it any wonder that many of the residents in the District of Columbia refer to it as 'Dodge City', not, because of the killing that goes on there. They are also referring to the crime that is taking place on Capitol Hill. There are hundreds of corporate lobbyists for every congressperson.  HOP, and several other well-intentioned institutions in America and this area, are not the place to go if one does not intend to alter their plight, and that is in consideration of individuals on both sides of the spectrum.


At HOP, we are essentially teaching outdoor citizens, the ones who will listen to a new perspective, a new paradigm, and it includes the following:


1. That the world has changed since the Post WWII economic boom that America experienced (which lasted more than a half century).
2. That Europe was devastated, and broke at the end of the war, while America's blue collar industry, factories, its banking and mercantile system, among other things, was booming.
3. And as a result, there were jobs aplenty. (Many Americans in the rust belt where I hail from, held more than one job at a time). I can recall when I held 2 jobs and was working 16 hours a day around the age of 18.
4. However today greed, coupled with globalization, corporate down-sizing, loss of market share to the emerging global economies, corporate down-sizing, the depression and the slow economic recovery (not to overlook the psyche of the entitled to a job Americans), too many Americans have lost that one well paying job - that they used to have. And more more and more of them are sitting in a stupor, while waiting for 'their job' to come back.
5. That the shrinking manufacturing base, currently at about 27% of what it was decades ago, has resulted in many of blue collar workers having been simply put, eliminated. And as a result, homes, apartments, rooms and families have been broken up and lost...
6. That even if you were able to garner a job, typically short-term, you would not be able to earn a sufficient amount of money to cover your living expenses, particularly, if you live in northern California.
7. That the solution is within you coupled with solid supportive help, of the kind that teach and help you to take back charge of your lives, and therefore your destinies with this in mind; you must take the responsibility for your comeback, and create income-producing opportunities for yourself. In other words, you will hone and depend on your current skill-sets, return to school if you must, and use what you have already in your toolbox, to compete in the market place.
8. We remind our people (outdoor citizens), that each one of them possesses 'not only marketable skills, but income-producing skills'. We also explain that the American citizen will have to learn to compete against both American and global interests in the new paradigm. And finally, with our support and hopefully yours, outdoor citizens will learn to garner a slice of the American and global pie - the former ship has sailed.
9. Maintenance programs are just that, maintenance; and they will result in many Americans being on the dole for the rest of their lives - we lost over 50 outdoor-citizen lives in the area, last year alone, along with several outdoor citizens in this region just over the past 3 weeks...
10. Finally, we help outdoor-citizens understand that more and more of the jobs that they were accustomed to having before, have been and are being shipped overseas, automated or outsourced. This phenomenon has occurred with the full consent of lobbied American government officials by American corporations.


Both entities are competing for their own survival and to satisfy campaign-financiers and their stockholders. The dangerous nexus that currently exists between government and corporations, is only hurting the American people. However, we have to fight back!


John Maynard Keynes, Kenneth Galbraith would be appalled, if they could witness the current economic conditions in America, particularly what is taking place in the American corporate marketplace, on Wall Street and with America's mercantile system (particularly in a nation with a 14T GDP, piled-up debt and Americans living in the streets). Who knows what Mr. Friedman would have to say if he were still with us today, with respect to current market conditions. And we all know that he was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and supply-side economist.


Thomas Sowell, my soul brother, I don't understand you, but at the same time, we are moving on with our own economic recoveries. I feel that it is safe to say that the contract with America ala Hobbes and Locke is DOA, at this juncture it appears to be, every person for themselves!  Mr. Volcker has had very instructive things to say from time to time. Mr. Greenspan, has to defend himself, since he presided over the Fed, during the downturn and slide, ergo, he has been somewhat muted and more of an apologist. Mr. Geithner and Mr. Bernanke are presiding over the current debacle and economic recovery, at the Treasury and at the Fed.


All of us know, I believe, what the real problem is and where it originated, in addition to all of the above (to include job losses, corporate down-sizing, repositioning, job furloughs, the stock-market crash), can you say hedge funds though? Where I disagree with many of the outdoor citizens and organizations that we are involved with, too many of them accept the status-quo and fail to understand that it is time to to alter the status quo.


Why?  Because with the best of intentions many of these organizations are doing the wrong thing today, and therefore very little to address the systemic issues of our time. One thing that is needed for sure in the Santa Clara Valley and other regions of the nation is, DISRUPTION!


In other words the same organizations that have prevented a crises of hunger in and among our demographic, have fallen into a separate rut. Today, however,it is time to get on with the business of rehabilitation, by partnering with outdoor citizens in a way that will help them to get back to creative ways of producing economic returns on their best investments, themselves.  These institutions did an admirable job before, however, it is time to switch gears, and to kick some butt, given that there has been a massive redistribution of wealth in this nation and this area, to the ones who needed it the least - and they are not going to give it back.  


In summary and I repeat that we believe the following:


1. That organizations in the area need to adapt a new paradigm, one in which individuals working with those who want to help themselves to recover, ought to be helped. The ones who do not, and will not help themselves, ignore them.
2. That outdoor citizens must be encouraged, taught … those who can be taught, to begin working to create income producing opportunities for themselves, with support (to include cleaning, sweeping, painting curbs, mowing lawns, using their computer-skills, starting their own hi-tech businesses some have advanced degrees you know).
3. That outdoor citizens must volunteer to work, when one is capable of doing so, instead of receiving the gifts that they have been receiving of late, gratis.
4. That a certain amount of pain being felt, will inspire some of our able-bodied, but spoiled outdoor citizens to get back to work or to create income-producing opportunities for themselves. We are living in a new day, and certain jobs aren't coming back!
5. That organizations must channel more dollars into self-help organizations, not only HOP, who are trying to create self-sustaining and independent human beings instead of dependents (and the latter is what is taking place all over the area today.


In conclusion:I wonder what our critics will have to say when we, HOP, a year and a-half old organization that began without money, a place and not very much of anything else, helps to alter the current paradigm and status quoin this region; or on the other hand, when the ones who are being served by status quo organizations make the turn around? Motivated outdoor-citizens, are turning to us already. The rest are staying in the parks, and relying on government, faith-based groups … to sustain them, to do their work for them - however, they are watching us.


We plan to help individuals who desire to and are willing to work, to stand and to walk again. The answer is on 'the porch', not on the streets,or under another person or institution's control. And why are we doing what we are doing? We do it because of LOVE!


And if what you or you group has been and is doing works for the good of the people (not just your group...) then by all means keep doing it. On the other hand and in the words of Dr. Phil (see above), ask yourself or your group ... "how is what you have been doing, working for the individuals or groups that you or your group purports to serve at present, or has served in the past?"


If nothing else you will be able to determine why you or your group are doing what you are or have been doing, and who really benefits, if anyone! Sadly, and at times, we can do the right thing the wrong way, and this problem is one that Americans, typically are not accustomed to dealing with!  However, given all of the above, and we didn't even touch on the numbers of individuals in the retirement community, an exploding number, who are having trouble making it! What happened to 'the commonweal', or commonwealth if you prefer?


And here is one final shameless but hopefully helpful plug:


During my years as a psychiatric counselor, I received unsolicited plaudits from my fellow team members, who wondered why I had been more successful than many of them (who had been there long before I arrived, and had previously worked with the same clients).  My response to them was, "the clients in our Mental Health center told me that the difference between you and the other therapists, is that you care about us,the others are here using us in order to acquire their advanced degrees".


Sadly, and in too many instances, I knew firsthand that they were correct - several of my peers were using the clients to get what they wanted, their PhDs from a local university.  To be informed, is to be armed! Do some introspection and self-actualization, those of you who want to help. And ask yourself, why are you doing what you are doing? In other words, are you doing what you are doing for the ones who need help, or are you doing what you are doing for yourself?


Solomon
The Proud President of Hope for Outdoor People


Learn more about the growing supply-side dynamic and the outdoor citizen's demographic in Santa Clara County, by visiting 'The Outdoor Citizens Coalition of Santa Clara County's website at www.hoppeople.org! We have our own think tank, and are working to bring about positive social-change for our demographic in the Santa Clara Valley and beyond.


We need more HOP chapters around the nation. And please read our inspiring articles. Through The Window of Kathy's Eyes, is the featured article the week - please read it.