City expands parking program for families living in their cars

Quote

Amazon.com

This is a good start, I suppose. It’s better than parking tickets and fines and whatnot. Yet, if the city has to set aside parking lots for homeless families with cars…how about actual housing?  Clearly, there is a need and a HUGE underlying problem.

The existing lot is operated by the nonprofit Dreams for Change at Jewish Family Service’s Joan & Irwin Jacobs Campus on Balboa Avenue. The lot provides space for 40 vehicles, serving around 50 to 60 individuals nightly, with an emphasis on families.

Another 20 spaces will be added, paid for by the city and donations to JFS.

City expands parking program for families living in their cars, FOX NEWS, OCTOBER 16, 2017, BY CITY NEWS SERVICE

God’s Spam Filter

Do you ever think back over all of the problems you’ve faced, the prayers you’ve prayed, and the final outcomes? Do you ever compare all of the time spent asking for God’s help to the times when help was received, and then look up to the sky and think “Are my messages going into your spam filter?”

Yeah. Me too.

-Just some random thoughts floating through the head of Adora Myers

Homeless Photo Contest

Homeless To Participate In Photo Contest – http://wp.me/p5DwgX-1jP

I like the idea but they really need to pay participants more than just a $10 gift card and a backpack of toiletries. They are producing the photographs that will be the center of a huge fundraising campaign, standard freelancing rates…or at least minimum wage…should apply.

Quote:

Photographers will have seven days to tell their story through photographs before returning the camera to a drop-off location.  They will receive a t-shirt with ‘photographer’ emblazoned on the back, a $10 gift card for food and a backpack of toiletries for their participation in the project.

A team of community judges will then select the top 20 photos that will be displayed at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre from June 29-August 20.  Visitors will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite photo with a donation.

Homeless To Participate In Photo Contest, St. Louis News, April 11, 2017; written by Jill Enders

Definition of a Witch

The word witch has many meanings in the United States, some good and some bad. The historic usage as a slur for people who practice earth-based religions or anyone practicing herbal medicine or midwifery, has resulted in unfortunate misunderstandings and excuses for senseless violence. For more information about the Pagan community and it’s use of the term ‘Witch’ see: Witches’ Vox, Starhawk, and History of Witch Burnings.

The following quote describes a very specific cultural perspective based on a definition that falls under the ‘bad witch’ category. It is not a reference to modern Paganism or the US history of witch burnings. It’s also a quote from a novel – only members of the Navajo nation could say, definitely, how accurate this information really is.

I went back and forth on these quotes and ultimately decided to post them because they are a wonderful example of the style used by this author and an excellent segment of descriptive color in a work of fiction. Also, I do not see anything racially or culturally offensive in the quote.

If there are problems in the presentation of the Navajo culture or additional issues surrounding the use of the word witch, then they are valid concerns and worthy of further discussion. If I am blind to a problem, I invite you to open my eyes. Feel free to add comments accordingly.

Amazon.com

Quotes:

“And finally Chee had accumulated a general impression of Windy Tsossie. It was a negative impression. His kinsmen and his clansmen, when they admitted remembering him at all, remembered him without fondness or respect. They talked of him reluctantly, vaguely, uneasily. No one put it in words. Since Chee was Navajo, no one needed to. Windy Tsossie did not “go in beauty.” Windy Tsossie was not a good man. He did not follow those rules which Changing Woman had given the People. In a word, Windy Tsossie was believed by his kinsmen to be a witch.”

“To become a witch, to cross over from Navajo to Navajo Wolf, you have to break at least one of the most serious taboos. You have to commit incest, or you have to kill a close relative. But there’s another story, very old, pretty much lost, which explains how First Man became a witch. Because he was first, he didn’t have relatives to destroy. So he figured out a magic way to violate the strongest taboo of all. He destroyed himself and recreated himself, and that’s the way he got the powers of evil.”

People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries Book 4) by Tony Hillerman

Poverty Survivor Spotlight 

I have not read her novels but I like the idea of helping promote books written by fellow poverty survivors.

Meet Mandy, also known as Kira Morgana.

She’ll be homeless in a week. – http://wp.me/p4m09Q-ro

The Reason People Do Not Trust The Police: Abduction and Human Trafficking

Amazon.com

Having lived and worked in both the Fargo/Moorehead area and Duluth, MN, this story does not surprise me. Sadly, it is far from the first time I’ve run across an article like this. Also, this is neither the first nor the last woman to experience this problem, yet police continue to refuse to take it seriously: Crimes against Native American women raise questions about police response, The Guardian, by Zoe Sullivan (01/19/2016)

North Dakota nightmare: Lake Vermilion woman abducted, taken to Bakken oil patch, The TimberJay, by Marshall Helmberger and Jodi Summit (06/03/2015)

A woman was traveling through North Dakota when she found herself stranded. While contacting family on her cell phone she was abducted:

The man had snuck up behind her while she was messaging friends and family members on her progress and was focused on her laptop computer. It was the last message her family would receive for almost a week.

Somehow she managed to escape:

The following few days, she said, are lost in a fog, as her abductor may have kept her drugged. She woke up to the dinging of an open car door, and found herself lying in the backseat of a beat-up Honda Accord with a missing back window. With her abductor apparently outside the vehicle, she stumbled out of the back seat and crawled away. “I tried to run,” she said, but her vision was blurry. Despite that, she managed to make her way down a steep ditch and her abductor apparently didn’t pursue her, but her memory of her escape is far from clear.

And survived through the help of a Good Samaritan:

While she had begun her ordeal in Casselton, in far eastern North Dakota, after escaping her abductor she found herself in a remote part of northwestern North Dakota. She said she wandered for at least two days, without food or water, before finally being rescued by a North Dakota man, who spotted her wandering across open country near the tiny town of Wildrose.

Then the police do THIS:

While Edith had hoped her experience would help law enforcement officials apprehend a kidnapper and possible human trafficker, she soon discovered that officers at the Williston Police Department had little interest in her story. She said officers refused to take a statement about her abduction. Instead, they ran her own record and found a 2011 traffic violation from Grand Forks still outstanding—and arrested her on a bench warrant for the unpaid ticket.

“I kept trying to tell them that I’d been taken, but they wouldn’t listen. One officer told me I was full of __it and was just trying to get out of the warrant,” said Edith.

According to Edith, the Williston police offered no medical assistance. Instead, they booked her into a holding facility overnight and shipped her to a jail in Minot the following day.

This is just one of the many reasons why people do not trust the police. It’s also living proof that the militarization of the police force is ineffective. When police officers are so distanced from the human beings they are tasked to serve that they can’t recognize a situation for what it is…or take the OPPORTUNITY it presents to capture a REAL bad guy…then there is something seriously wrong.

International Sorry Day – Alaskan Children

Amazon.com

May 26th is National Sorry Day in Australia. As I’ve stated before, the forcible removal of children from their families in an effort to destroy languages, cultures and religions is a human rights violation that has occurred world wide. In honor of International Sorry Day (an unofficial holiday), I am posting this quote is from a book about an Inuit child who suffered this violation. Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867 and the last residential school closed in 1996, so the residential schools program is a history shared by Canada and the United States.

Quote:

“Olemaun,” he whispered. I had not heard my Inuit name in so long I thought it might shatter like an eggshell with the weight of my father’s voice. At the school I was known only by my Christian name, Margaret. I buried my head in my father’s smoky parka, turning it wet with tears. I felt a touch much gentler than my father’s strong grasp as my mother’s arms joined his. Together they sheltered me in that safe place between them.

Not My Girl, written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Additional Links:

My Immigrant Ancestors: History and Genealogy

Last Sunday I posted the last of my Immigrant Ancestors. Every individual who left their home country to live in the United States has been documented (to the best of my knowledge).

While researching the finer details and filling in gaps of information (to the best of my ability) through Ancestry.com I noticed an interesting trend – my French Canadian/Creole ancestors all left Canada in the late 1800s. Some left with children and babies, which was no small matter during that time. Many settled down in French Canadian/Creole communities with similarly recent French Canadian immigrants, some of whom where blood relation. This made me wonder what, exactly, was happening in Canada during the following years: 1864, 1865, 1869, 1871, 1873. Why were so many people risking everything and moving their entire families into the United States?

A bit of online research led me to resources that clearly differentiate this period from the Great Expulsion that occurred between 1700-1750.

I am a product of the American public school system, which is not known for it’s lessons in either geography or history (or any other number of topics, depending on where in the USA one might be living). Therefore, I was very surprised to learn that the Great Expulsion occurred at all!

Here are a few details from the history books…

Great Expulsion (1700-1750)

The British wanted to control Canada and the United States. (In the United States this same period of time is known as the French and English war, the Seven Year War, and/or the French and Indian War.) When they managed to secure control of the eastern edge of Canada they proceeded to forcibly remove all French, French-speaking and Acadian people. This mass forced migration adversely affected large numbers of European, Native Canadian (first nations) and Metis/Creole (mixed) people. The following TheCanadianEncyclopedia.ca quote sums up this terrible event:

“Of some 3,100 Acadians deported after the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, an estimated 1,649 died by drowning or disease, a fatality rate of 53 per cent.

Between 1755 and 1763, approximately 10,000 Acadians were deported. They were shipped to many points around the Atlantic. Large numbers were landed in the English colonies, others in France or the Caribbean. Thousands died of disease or starvation in the squalid conditions on board ship. To make matters worse, the inhabitants of the English colonies, who had not been informed of the imminent arrival of disease-ridden refugees, were furious. Many Acadians were forced, like the legendary Evangeline of Longfellow’s poem, to wander interminably in search of loved ones or a home.”

As I read about the Great Expulsion, I couldn’t help but compare it to the forced removal of Native Americans from the southern United States. The following History.com quote about the Trail of Tears makes for a sadly (disturbingly) similar story:

“At the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on millions of acres of land in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida–land their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations. By the end of the decade, very few natives remained anywhere in the southeastern United States. Working on behalf of white settlers who wanted to grow cotton on the Indians’ land, the federal government forced them to leave their homelands and walk thousands of miles to a specially designated “Indian territory” across the Mississippi River. This difficult and sometimes deadly journey is known as the Trail of Tears.”

Amazon.com

Economics, Community and Religion (1850-1900)

As for the late 1800s, the reasons for migration were more complicated. The Metis/Creole,  French speaking and Catholic communities were not treated well under the British government. The opportunities for securing land, running a farm or business and/or getting a job were limited at best. People left Canada looking for better wages in the United States and settled in this country with full-intention of returning to Canada. Many sent money back to families while living here. Most chose to remain after spending a few years in (comparative) financial security.

In other words, they were financial refugees – not unlike the current financial refugees entering the United States from South American countries (and other places around the globe).

Politics of Settlement

Another key historic event is the removal of Native Americans from the Midwest (during the mid 1800s, this was considered ‘the west’). The US government was aggressively recruiting European people to move into the frontier regions, with the full intention of keeping…and continuing to take…lands from their former inhabitants. Light-skinned French speaking Canadians were considered to be white European, which meant the opportunities for economic security were greater in the USA than in Canada.

Conclusion?

Personally, I have taken two key lessons from all of this:

  1. Genealogy makes for an excellent history lesson. Being able to connect historic events to the experiences of your ancestors has a way of turning boring and seemingly irrelevant facts into something very personal and (therefore) interesting.
  2. The more things change, the more they stay the same – and/or those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Gold Diggers Survive

I have a love-hate relationship with this song: Fancy from the album Rumor Has It by Reba McEntire.

Fancy was a big hit in 1990. During that year, I was a poverty survivor working insane hours at multiple jobs while going to college. The lyrics do not tell my story (per se) but they touched on something within my own experience.

Amazon.com

“She said here’s your chance Fancy don’t let me down
Here’s your one chance Fancy don’t let me down
Lord forgive me for what I do, but if you want out
Well it’s up to you
Now don’t let me down you better start movin’ uptown”

Every time I hear this song play, I want to turn it into a personal theme song or a Poverty Survivor anthem because of lyrics like this:

“I knew what I had to do but I made myself this solemn vow
That I’s gonna be a lady someday
Though I don’t know when or how
I couldn’t see spending the rest of my life
With my head hung down in shame you know
I might have been born just plain white trash
But Fancy was my name”

Good strong words, but they are taken out of context. Context is important. This song tells the story of a young woman who is handed over to a pimp because her mother was poor, sick and desperate to find a way for her daughter to survive:

“Then I saw the tears wellin’ up in her troubled eyes
When she started to speak
She looked at our pitiful shack
And then she looked at me and took a ragged breath
She said your Pa’s run off and I’m real sick
And the baby’s gonna starve to death.”

But, in the end, Fancy not only gets out of a life of prostitution, she becomes extremely wealthy and famous. How? She finds several rich men who like what she has to offer.

“It wasn’t very long after a benevolent man
Took me off the street
And one week later I was pourin’ his tea
In a five room hotel suite”

“I charmed a king, a congressman
And an occasional aristocrat
Then I got me a Georgia mansion
And an elegant New York townhouse flat
I ain’t done bad”

The story describes a young woman who is physically attractive and blessed with a personality that is both subservient enough to ‘pour tea’ and outgoing/entertaining/manipulative enough to ‘charm a king, a congressman and an occasional aristocrat.’ She literally serves, entertains and flatters her way into the right bedrooms and, therefore, is able to both survive and thrive.

This is complete fiction. Under the ownership of a pimp, human trafficker or abusive boyfriend (taking a cut off of her earnings), it would have required the intervention of the police and/or an act of God to get her off the streets.

This is destructive fiction. This is one of the fatal contradictions inherent in the definition of Deserving Poor utilized here in the United States – a common fable passed around by Hollywood, television, romance novels and politicians. It’s disturbing just how many people actually believe it is factual, common and proof that women who don’t land rich husbands ‘deserve’ the punishment of poverty. Specifically: if you want to get out of poverty, you must land the right man. Girls who ‘work it’ are the ones who succeed – the rest are just lazy and worthless. Worse…those who get pregnant, raped or otherwise suffer less than ideal consequences are ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ who deserve nothing better than prostitution and single-parenting-on-welfare.

Street Feminism. If you’ve ever wondered why feminism is not popular among poor women, take a good hard look at what it takes to survive and what is expected of the Deserving Poor. These lyrics and this music video provide an excellent illustration of the reality of poverty for women – a reality which feminism, in its current manifestation, does nothing to address. Sadly, many upper-class feminists actively (aggressively) support this fantasy and the Deserving Poor fiction that goes with it – through their actions. Your theories and opinions are nothing if your actions contradict those words. Why does this happen? Because class and classism overshadows solidarity and negatively affects the feminist community.

Which brings me to the next point…

Real life in the United States. Entirely too many people (particularly children, teenagers, and young adults) are desperately poor and/or homeless in the United States. They need reasonable and easily accessible options, not fairy tales that essentially glorify an ideal that, in reality, guarantees a life of sexual slavery.

“Now in this world there’s a lot of self-righteous hypocrites
That would call me bad
And criticize Mama for turning me out
No matter how little we had”

This is a bit of truth. Self-righteous hypocrites calling poverty survivors ‘bad’ (and many other things that are far worse) because they have the audacity to survive poverty. So many things about this story are wrong….just plain wrong….because they accurately portray reality for entirely too many people (including the complications stemming from popular misconceptions). This last bit of nastiness is no exception.

Poverty survivors have a right to live. They do not owe anyone an explanation, excuse or apology for refusing to die (no matter how inconvenient that reality may be to select groups of people). Those who are lucky enough to leave poverty deserve respect, not nasty attempts at degradation, public humiliation, and slander. Slander which can, and often does, negatively affects social standing and employment – thereby sending survivors right back into poverty.

Yeah, this song strikes a chord. It grabs hold of my anger and frustration about the lack of real change in the areas of poverty and homelessness and plays those emotions like an instrument.

To her credit, Reba McEntire’s video for Fancy ends with the main character opening a home for runaways. It’s an excellent video. I just wish the lyrical story were more realistic.

Dream House

After (finally) updating my Wild Raccoon Farm blog, I started thinking about my ‘ideal home.’ The Wild Raccoon explores a form of community living that I would love to participate in, but finding an intentional community can be extremely difficult. It’s the kind of thing that potentially borders on impossible for people who don’t already have a network of friends and family who also want to live like that.

This begs the question – what else? What is the alternative near-perfect option? I’ve started a Pinterest board called Homes and Gardens, where I pin pictures of living spaces. There’s a lot of rustic cabins, Hobbit houses, fairy houses, travel trailer, stone garden sidewalks, reading nooks and similarly rustic-yet-cozy things featured there.

But designing the ‘perfect house’ requires a focus on function over design. How will the space be used? What elements are most important to the lifestyle of the owner?

Personally, I keep coming back to a very old fashioned family business and home combination. This model has become near-obsolete and zoning laws in the United States make finding, buying and maintaining the commercial/residential status difficult. Legalities aside, I just love the idea of owning a house with a storefront, running a business or office out of the store and living above or behind the shop.

Of course, there has to be a large backyard for pets, a garden and recreational activities. A little hobby farm would be even better. And then there’s those below ground homes with grass roofs, which are wonderful for both heating/cooling and extra garden space.

Interestingly enough, my dream home does not have a swimming pool. I love to swim, but every time I see a house with an in-ground pool I start wondering what it would cost to fill it in and put the land to better use. A beach, lake or swimming hole (provided by nature) are en entirely different matter.

I guess that’s what makes designing a dream home both fun and challenging – how do you incorporate everything?