Saturday, December 27, 2014

Criticized by a Homeless Man!

 I know it has been awhile since I posted on this blog, but yes, Dave and I are still making plans to hopefully turn my property into an Eco Village to home the homeless. We are really hoping to get back to posting more regularly on our blogs in 2015.

Yesterday (the day after Christmas) I had to run in to town to get a bag of dog food. I was so grateful for the monetary gift I had received to purchase it with so I don't have to cook for all of my guard dogs for a few days and can spend that time getting more work done. But that is straying off of the topic, sorry.

The day dawned fairly warm and nice for the day after Christmas, but no sooner than I had left home, the temps began to drop and cold, steady drizzle set in. By the time I left the store, everything outdoors was pretty much soaking wet and dripping. Just after I pulled out of the parking lot and got to the first corner, there stood a "homeless" man with his cardboard sign asking for "help, need money, money all stolen, etc." He had on a heavy shirt and a warm vest but no coat and was getting thoroughly rained on.

I pulled around on to the side street and stopped. I rolled the passenger window down but he did not come over to the car (I was guessing he didn't because I wasn't waving money at him). I got out and went over to him, my intention being to make sure he had a dry place to spend the night out of the rain. To get to him, there was a stretch of dead, smashed down tall grass, mushy from rain, that I had to get through, but I really hadn't paid it much notice. It was no worse than what I deal with on a regular basis when I am out feeding chickens and farm critters on a dreary day.

But as I got closer to him, he started yelling something that sounded to be in an angry tone. At first I could not understand what he was saying. As I got up to him, he started yelling at me that I should not be walking through wet grass getting my feet wet and what an idiot I was for doing so. UGH!!!! At that point I almost turned and walked away. Actually, I did turn away for a brief second, but then more consciously felt the cold rain so I turned back. I told him I didn't have any money but wanted to be sure he had a place to stay out of the cold and rain at night. My  intention was to offer him space on my property to set up a tent if he didn't, and make sure he had a hot meal and a warm bed for the night. But he said, "I always have a place to stay out of the cold and rain." and thanked me for asking, anyway, then turned back to wave his cardboard sign to passers by on the main street. It was our biggest/most shopped store in town, on the biggest return day of the year, and he had work to do! He had a busy corner to work. He made it clear he did NOT have time to talk to me if I wasn't handing him money. It appeared he didn't want anyone doing anything but driving by and handing money out their car windows. FORGET stopping to get out and actually talk to him!

I know the true homeless are out there, and truly needing help, but finding them to get help to them is going to be more challenging than I even anticipated.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why No Gardens?

stock photo
I have been researching through countless videos on tent cities and homeless villages. One thing that I have been shocked that I haven't seen is vegetable gardens! You see all these people living out in the woods, and out in wide open spaces, but no gardens growing.

I did see ONE village that homes the homeless that had some really nice raised bed gardens. Dignity Village
 Even though their village isn't built on soil, they manage to grow some of their food.

At some of the Tent Cities and Villages I have seen numerous people that have lived there long term . . . . 3, 5, even 10 years. It boggled my mind that they were so "in need", had ground space, yet didn't plant any gardens. Then I remembered what I have heard person after person, on those videos, say: "When I came here, I thought I would be here for only a few months, but years have passed and I am still here."  No one that goes into a Tent City to live expects to be there long enough to plant a garden!

With this in mind, this is one of the top priority items we want to set up for our homeless Eco Village (I hesitate to use the word 'homeless' because once they move here, even in a tent, they will no longer be homeless.) . . . . . vegetable gardens!!! No, we are not planning on people being here long enough to plant and harvest a full garden, but it does take a long while for some people to find jobs and get back on their feet, and in the meantime, they need inexpensive, yet healthy foods. All that healthy, fresh food, and the exercise people get maintaining the gardens will really benefit their health, which is important when trying to pull yourself back up, or any other time for that matter.  And if they end up having extra produce, they can sell it at the roadside and bring in some income to help run the Village.

Gardens will also give opportunity for the people that are currently here, to Pay It Forward to the next people that come after they, themselves have made it back on their feet. Even if someone isn't here long enough to harvest what they plant, the next people coming in will be able to, and then they can replant. It will be a constant, very positive, cycle that will benefit all that are involved.

What is your opinion of having vegetable gardens all around a Homeless Village?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Homeless In Muskogee

An Entire Block of Empty Buildings Downtown
I have done some researching around the nearest, medium-sized city (Muskogee, Oklahoma), on "shelter" that is available to the homeless in our area. What I found was maddening!

First, most of your homeless shelters are now CLOSED. We have one left that is open (the Gospel Rescue Mission), but it is for men ONLY. This shelter is so overfull that there is a long waiting list for a night's rest, there, and men are sleeping all over the area around it, even the cold, hard sidewalks. Although this would give men a place indoors, out of the weather, I have been told by a couple of homeless men that they actually feel much safer OUTDOORS, braving the elements, than sleeping inside that place. Another young man, just last week, told me that most of the men there are ex convicts. I am not saying that that means they are bad or dangerous, everyone makes mistakes from time to time, I am just saying that that makes other men nervous about staying there.

We have a Battered Women's shelter. It isn't JUST for homeless women, but it is for any women that have been battered, left their abuser, and have no where to go. But ONLY battered women (and maybe their children) qualify for this shelter.

Currently, there are NO shelters available in Muskogee for homeless single women, women with children, nor families (non abused). There are empty buildings all over this town, many areas look like Ghost Neighborhoods, yet NOTHING is available for the homeless in these groups! There used to be a small area in our downtown where some of the homeless "camped out", but it was shut down a few years back. Ever since I learned of this situation (homeless families, women and children, only having the open outdoors to sleep) it has been constantly on my mind and brings tears to my eyes. Husbands can leave their families and go get on the waiting list to sleep indoors at the Rescue Mission, but there are no safe places for the women and children!!!  Recently, I learned of one young mother with 2 small children. The mother had just had surgery and a near brush with death so cannot work at this time. Yet Human Services told her if she did not quickly find a house, with running water, they were going to take her kids and put them in foster care. GRRRRR!!!!

Just a little further away (about a 45-minute drive) is a large city.  They had a Tent City for a long, time, but I also learned last week that that, too, has been shut down and all of those people are now looking for somewhere else to sleep.

The availability of "safe" places to sleep - store belongings - etc. - in our area looks very GRIM!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Dream Since Early Childhood - Part 2

My adult life has been an ultra busy whirlwind. Yet, from time to time, all through the years, I have often thought about my idea for a tiny community of tiny houses to give a place to people that didn't have a home, a chance to have a little roof over their head, plant their feet and start all over again. I can actually still picture one of the layouts (my favorite) on one of my old graph paper pages.

In my early adulthood, when I began working a job on our farthest West side of town (I seldom ever went that far that way), I got so excited one day! There, just back a little off the road, was a row of Tiny Little Houses just like the ones I had always pictured in my head! I don't know what they were originally intended for, but at present, they look like low income housing. As tiny as they were, families with children were milling about, looking happy to have a home. But it looked so hot, yet cold, there, as there was so much concrete and asphalt all around those tiny little houses. That was not in my image. Trees, flowers, and very productive vegetable gardens all around is what I have envisioned.

Lately, it has come to our attention, the drastically growing number of homeless of all walks and ages, coupled with a shameful lack of resources in our area for them. It just makes you want to cry, even if you don't know them. I had been trying and trying to figure out how I could best help them. Just handing them money and/or stuff doesn't feel like enough. I want to do something to help them get back on track, not just float along. Then I thought, why not bring that lifelong dream/vision I of mine to life, right here on my 5 acres!

We have Dave's much bigger farm where we are setting up our self-sustaining farm and the big gardens. So why not use my 5 acres to start an Eco Village of tiny little houses to home the homeless and aid in getting them back on their feet? I have no idea how we are going to do this. We have not near enough money at this time for ourselves, much less to build tiny houses and start a village (heck, we are still trying to get our own tiny house built), but maybe if we let people start with tents and work up from there, it will all eventually fall into place. You have to start somewhere, right?

I have had this dream, coupled with a hard drive to make it happen, ever since I was a little girl. Lately, the drive has become much, much harder. I am over halfway to 100, now and not getting any younger, so the time has finally come to do this, if I am going to do it. Again, I have no idea how we are ever going to accomplish this, but we have decided to just take baby steps with it, go with the flow, continue to dream, and brainstorm, let God guide us through, and enjoy watching it all fall into place. I am so excited and have such a great feeling about all of this. Although I have no idea how we could possibly ever accomplish this enormous task, and I can foresee quite a few obstacles in the way, I can feel, way down deep inside . . . . that my childhood dream is finally going to become a reality!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Dream Since Early Childhood - Part 1

I do not  know where it came from. Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it was from my love of crafting, creating things, 'playing' with my Dad's scrap wood, hammer and nails, building things. Oh, how I ADORED making things out of all my Dad's scrap wood left over from his projects! But for as far back as I can remember, I had a strong desire to build a community of tiny little houses, a community of people in a country atmosphere, living an old-fashioned lifestyle. How odd that in that vision, even as a small child, I was not exactly living in that community full-time, but instead, building it for people that didn't have a home. At that young age, I did not yet know what the word "homeless" meant, but somehow, I DID  know.

As I moved into the second half of my grade school years, my Dad's graph paper began to disappear. Oh, my! Yes, one day he caught me! I was surprised that I didn't get into trouble. He didn't even pretend to get mad like he did when he caught me with his missing wood marking pencils. Instead, he wanted to see what I was doing with it. I showed him, but I just could not read his facial response. It actually seemed to be one of amusement!

One evening, soon after that, Dad came home with a surprise for me . . . . a very large, very thick, graph paper pad! I think I was more excited over that graph paper pad than nearly any Christmas present I ever got! And even better, yet . . . my dad didn't laugh at my odd idea. He actually seemed to understand. He never asked me about it again, though. He just left me to myself to dream and design, which was exactly how I wanted it, and exactly what I needed. . . . . to be left alone with my odd, creative ideas

Over the years, I measured out, scribbled, arranged, and drew out tiny house floor plans and community layouts all over that pad. Sometimes I would draw (okay, scribble because we all know I can't draw) out new ideas. Other times I would just flip through the pages and ponder my work. Then other times, I would put it away for awhile to let it rest, then come back to it. I had a remarkable, inexplicable drive to create this vision of a community.

The summer I turned 17, we moved from the very small house I grew up in. At summer's end, I began my final year of high school. It was a very challenging year with difficult classes. I attended high school half a day, and also began a few college hours. That old graph pad got put away for a spell. Then I started to college the next year, dragged that old pad back out and took it with me. I had heavy loads at college, but I didn't have so many home responsibilities and actually had a little time now and then to, once again, work on my tiny little community idea.

At the end of that first college y ear, I got married and began my own family life. Many of my childhood thhings got packed away and stored. Other things 'magically' disappeared, never to be seen again. My graph paper pad with my vision sketched all over it was just one of those things. It used to upset me, but not really, now. All through life, from time to time, my mind had drifted back to ponder my old vision, and those old "drawings" are firmly etched into my mind. THAT cannot be taken away from me. I still hold onto a glimmer of hope that some day they will turn up, but if not, it's still good.