Architects of a New Dawn

We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.

Having read through many of the comments, I've noticed a couple of points I feel is worth mentioning. One is the tendency to wander off the topic of homelessness and drift into the default AOAND topic of being as one and sharing our love and light. As much as I'm sure we create our own reality, I don't know anyone who has successfully created the reality in which love and light projected from a New Age networking site actually keeps the wind and rain off in the absence of walls and a roof.

The other point is that there seems to be a focus on how we feel about homeless people. There are good points raised on both sides of this argument. Yes. They are human just like those of us who live in houses and, yes. There are complete assholes among the homeless just as there are among we of the the roofed community. There are many reasons for homelessness and the main one is a disconnection with society in some way or another (and that, in itself, is a whole other issue).

However, is any of this really addressing the issue of homelessness? Human beings are the only species on the planet who are prone to being homeless (stray pets are "homeless" only because they have been raised to share a home with humans and because they are perceived to belong in a house).

So why are we uniquely prone to homelessness? Because we have created a society that dictates the kind of shelters in which we live, where we can pitch up and so on. We think we own land but, in reality, we simply assume the right to evict other humans from the land we think we own. When was the last time a squirrel was prosecuted for trespassing? What about woodlice? Do they pay rent? Do we not even warrant the rights of a woodlouse?

If you "own" a large piece of land, I'm sure you enjoy the birdsong and to see wildlife frolicking in the greenery. You see a rudimentary shelter with a family of fellow humans living in it. Do you welcome them or call the police?

Mel discussed the BIG ISSUE project in the UK but there are also a number of projects in the US. One of these is run by an amazing man called Dan Phillips and you can catch the first of three videos on YouTube in which he discusses the project in great detail. you can find it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Std5taGTP6I

Just as wild creatures build their shelters from the very earth around them, we can do the same. It doesn't have to mean living in a cave. There are a couple of videos on my page by a man called Simon Dale. Simon is an advocate for low impact housing that uses the materials readily available in the environment and he has built beautiful homes that enjoy the luxuries of modern living in homes that can be built simply and cheaply and are sympathetic to the environment.

The only reason that a homeless person can't just build a home somewhere is that there isn't a square inch of land anywhere that isn't "owned" by someone else. In the UK, this is further confounded by excessive, obstructive and prohibitive planning laws. Those who "own" sufficient land to accommodate small housing projects need to be encouraged to consider doing so.

When you decide to make alterations to your home, do you dump old doors and window frames? Pay someone to come and take discarded masonry and architectural features away? If so, Dan Phillips would love to hear from you.

Yes. Homeless people are more closely in touch with reality... and we can help to improve that reality.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Ron, this is a great post. A comment that came to mind here as i read through this is that the threat of global warming is pushing us to look at the way we build homes. The models we have today are simply not going to withstand climate change. And you do touch on this when you speak of building home of earth. The straw bale people are also experimenting with structures that are wind resistant. Dr. V. Vernon Woolf also is bringing together some ideas under the Phoenix Project in conjunction with the Global Alliance Foundation which he has founded to address issues relevant to day's world -- one that is rapidly changing -- with regard to energy and construction materials. Anyway, i have connected Bob Ballard with Vern Woolf and they are coordinating on some ideas as to how to empower homeless (i am beginning to prefer "living-space challenged") people through the art of gardening and creating their own structures. The current plan is to revitalize buildings that are now becoming vacant, i.e., industrial and office buildings.

I have suggested utilizing the large grassy green spaces surrounding both office and industrial complexes as growing grounds for food using the "edible landscaping" concept. The building owners are obligated to pay landscaping services fees anyway, so why not convent this unproductive space to a useful purpose.

In conjunction with this, i have also suggested beginning a business based on the "Food From the Hood" program. www.grass-roots.org/usa/foodhood, shtml,www.certnyc.org/ffth.html Stalls could be constructed along the street side of the project so that people in the area could purchase not only fresh foods from the stalls, but also canned foods and other hand-crafted items.

Most of these industrial and office parks are already beautifully landscaped with many of them having ponds, waterfalls and other art forms added, e.g., sculptures. So taking out the cement pathways in order for people to walk barefoot and become "grounded" again, adding benches along with tables and chairs for picnics and relaxation, would add to the ambience, and be a "local community building" step when combined with the beauty edible landscaping can provide.

Not only do we need a new monetary system, but along with that we also need a redistribution of land. In his new book: "Spontaneous Evolution" (not yet published) cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton, M.D. is writing about the end of corporations as the "dinosaurs" or our time -- big bodies small brains. And, as the economy collapses, so will the corporate structures -- we have arrived at the end of the Industrial Age and moved into the Age of Knowledge. As we do so, our structural needs will change as well.

As the Nation-State structure with its competitive artificial boundaries disappears, we will see the emergence of "bio-regions" as natural boundaries. More natural systems will re-evolv as the need for ecosystem protection emerges as a prime concern for survival. Too long have we ignored topsoil as the factor upon which civilization was built. For too long have we been involved in religious belief systems that focused our attention on getting in Heaven rather than on reverence for the Earth -- our life support system.

Also, our ecological footprint indicator now shows that by the year 2030, we will need the equivalent of two earths in order to provide the resources necessary for today's world. Which, in essence, means that we are "ecologically bankrupt" right now. The solution to this means mining the waste dumps of the world in order to recover the wasted resources residing in them. Again, Vern Woolf has the solution to this challenge within the Phoenix project. www.holodynamics.com

What we know also, is that if we recover just the newspaper therein, we would probably never have to cut down another tree. And we know how to make beautiful homes out of newspaper. www.livinginpaper.com/

Will look at the resources you provide on your page also, Ron. Just rushed for time right now.

What appears to me is that we have all the pieces to the new puzzle at hand. It is now just a matter of assembling the puzzle so that the whole big picture emerges for all of us to see.
I would agree that we have some of the pieces and getting these pieces joined together can only help. But we have many more pieces to scrabble around for before we're ready to complete the puzzle.

Yes. Big corporations are the dinosaurs but they're not going to go away voluntarily and governments are not going to release their grip on power easily. Remember that they do tend to respond to challenges to the status quo with merciless zeal and police, the military and the threatened corporations are powerful tools for controlling the masses.

There is no need for a "new monetary system" because the very objective of a monetary system is to ensure that the few who want to remain at the top of the pecking order are able to control the many who provide, run and depend on the infrastructure. In short: the objective of the monetary system is to impose the two-fold leverage of (a) the promise of wealth and (b) the fear of poverty. We simply do not need it but the banks are not going to hand over that power readily.

The transition from the current position in which the banks, the large corporations and governments hold almost absolute power over the masses to a position in which resources are distributed equally and generated ecologically and the infrastructure (such as it need be) is coordinated by elected local committees is not going to arise out of discussions across a table. There is considerable reluctance to freely discuss how this can be realistically achieved because few are ready to face that reality (and I'm not sure I am ready to stand and say that I am one of the few). This represents a huge piece of the puzzle and it has yet to be found... or, rather, when it is found, it is immediately kicked back under the sofa because no one wants to confront that reality.

Maybe Metatron and his Cosmic Cavalry will save us from all that come 2012. Despite my tongue-in-cheek view of that, it is not something I rule out; but the cynic in me does rather suspect that this is wishful thinking. I genuinely hope that the shift in consciousness will mean that the established powers will simply dismantle themselves. But I, for one, am not entirely confident that this will be the case. The shift in consciousness could equally mean that a global movement will return the Earth to itself in the face of any opposition and altruistically accept whatever consequences that might imply.

In the meantime, we must do what we can to edge further and further toward global unifaction and the projects that are currently arising are very much along that path.

By the way, slightly off-topic: I don't think homeless people object to being identified as homeless as this is the reality. They might, however, object to the use of euphemisms as this implies that homelessness, apart from being very uncomfortable, insecure and stressful, is also something to be ashamed of.
I went into the city yesterday. After ordering a sandwich, I sat in a shady urban park area watching the passer-byers. I was approached by a homeless woman who sat with me and we talked for about 15 minutes. She was around 60 and had worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant and maintained a small apartment. She was laid off her job at the restaurant and eventually lost her apartment. She had been homeless for about 3 months.

I wanted to take her home with me... She was not insane, addicted or a derelict... she was well mannered, clean and willing to work. She had few marketable skills and was too old for many types of jobs. She said the shelters were already filled up for the day and she needed to collect $12.00 to stay at a hostel that night. I had $4 cash, gave her 2 and kept 2 for my bus ride home. I saw others give her some money too.

I wondered why she had no family or community support... why a society as rich as ours can turn a blind eye towards those who only seek life's basic necessities. I know the answers... but none of them make sense, when its the heart that wants to know.
what is the issue we are talking of?

I would like you to consider deeply the notion of eliminating the word homelessness.

what it seems we have been talking about is poverty consciousness. I say that is another issue.

if you are giving life to the term homellessness. then lets define who might be considered homeless - put a name and a face on that person - and then lets find a place for that person to call - home.

we can do this one person at a time - unless you have a better way. .

I reiterate - homelessness is a word we ought to eliminate and we can do this.

I have space for about 10,000 people in my backyard here in Puerto Penasco Mexico. ( by the way it is very hot here today ) -

It costs around $1000 a month to subsist here (to live a meager existence) . But no one has to ascribe to an insitutionalized word that serves no genuine helpful purpose.

compare this to the $44000 per year that it costs to maintain a human being in a big city (Toronto, Canada) that is being served by those that are trying to "help the homeless". - this provides a number of jobs that are self servinng and do little to help the people that need it.

we have our eyes looking in the wrong direction, using bad glasses and a mindset that is driven by CNN.

we can do better as architects of a new dawn.

I would like to suggest some of the notions expressed are not helpful . - and what purpose is served by this as a discussion.

let's build a program to assist people - that come forward and say - I need a place to live - can you help me?
then let's do it. in every city where we have architects for a New Dawn - .

the meeting place can be a Peace Posse Cafe - and we can do exactly what I propose in this missive.

I am sitting in a Peace Posse Cafe as I write this.
peace

Mitch
Wow, a really great discussion! I appreciate your contributions. I would like to address all of the comments, so I will start with the newest from Mitch.

Yes, we need to work with people one-on-one. At the core of everything are real human beings and at their core, a real human heart. What we call people without homes (homeless, house-less, housing challenged, etc., etc.) is not important so long as we understand each other. Whatever we make the words mean, the reality is that one-third of all human beings are without shelter and adequate nourishment.

Jeanne, thank you for sharing your experience with the woman you met. First of all, you made a difference for her and for you. A real difference, not just with money but with the gift that is you. In my mind, you also point to the question of why someone who has complied with the rules of our culture (no drugging, drinking or other prohibited behavior) is without a place to live. This points to the "morality" (really judgment) that pervades our culture, teaching us that people "deserve" the conditions in which they live. I read an interesting quote about that today from Alain DeBotton "If you believe that those at the top merit their success, you have to believe that those at the bottom are worthy of their failures." This is one of the most damaging assumptions supporting the economic engine of consumption because it not only justifies our actions, it completely validates the existence of a "loser" class, the people without property, without possessions. The bottom line is that our culture is not designed to serve human beings, even those who appear to have "won" the game; they have won nothing of real value.

Mary Rose, you point the way toward solutions, sustainable communities and a future that is inspiring. A re-distribution of resources is sorely needed. Dr. Woolf and others have created some amazing technologies that will make a huge difference when they are implemented.

In both of your posts Ron, you raise some important issues that must be powerfully addressed by humanity. To address these issues, people will need a new level of courage and a much greater consciousness of themselves and our connection to each other. The Hearts Of Fire Project (and many other endeavors) seeks to reduce the fear among human beings so that we can connect and realize our full potential. In short, so that we can be happy and live in peace. However, as you pointed out Ron, it is going to take some real backbone to deal with our fears given how we have been conditioned by the economic engine and the elite. The good news is we don't have to fight with governments and corporations. All we need to do is raise our consciousness individually and collectively. The institutions are collapsing of their own accord because they can no longer function in the light of the new consciousness. Of course, some of the people who have invested their identity in these structures (not only the elite) will suffer and thus fight the dissolution of these structures. However, fighting is simply more of the same thing that is fading away, so it will ultimately be of no avail.

What I think is happening is that the game we have been playing (winning, domination, survival) is being replaced by a new game (connection, compassion and peace). It is like people have been watching and playing football for years and suddenly the field is transformed to a baseball diamond. The people on the field, playing football find that the ball is now small, white and round instead a brown leather oblong. They suddenly find leather fielder's gloves on their hands and an elongated piece of smooth wood is lying on the ground near their feet. Naturally, the impact on the players is confusion, fear and a total inability to comprehend what has happened. Likewise, the people in the stands are baffled and afraid. This is what is happening now, at least to those who are unable or unwilling to comprehend the shift, the new game that has arrived.

I think the biggest issue Ron points to is the lack of connection and affinity between people. When I spend time with people at the shelters and on the street, it is their connection, love and compassion for others that most inspires me. Of course, the extent to which this exists varies from person to person and situation to situation. However, the fact that it exists at all is the most eloquent statement that can be made about the power of human beings and the complete irrelevancy of our consumer culture. As Ron pointed out, we must be willing to share our bounty with others, distinguish our wants from our needs, and accept that it is in our individual and collective self interest to do this.

In order to effect any "solutions." we must individually open our hearts and be willing to trust, yes Trust, other human beings. And we can't do that unless we are willing to interact with ALL other human beings. So my work is about jump-starting that interaction, developing it and encouraging it using the power of the arts. The arts communicate directly with the human heart without getting the logical mind in the way. There is nothing to figure out here. All there is is having the courage to open your heart and allowing it to find its natural connection with others. The basic and essential building block of a "new dawn" is human community and that arises when fear is displaced with courage and love.

I am grateful for your listening and contribution.
"In order to effect any "solutions." we must individually open our hearts and be willing to trust, yes Trust, other human beings. And we can't do that unless we are willing to interact with ALL other human beings."

I had an interesting experience in Spain which served as a valuable insight to trust. At the time, I was drawing street caricatures in Torremolinos and staying in Malaga. I was waiting for my train to Torremolinos when I heard some wonderful flamenco guitar. I followed my ear until I came to a busker I had seen on about two occasions playing on the streets in Torremolinos. He was off to do his bit of 'tourist-milking' as I was off to do mine. I didn't speak Spanish but I had picked up a couple of phrases and, being a music lover, Toca muy bien (You play very well) was one of them.

That was it. I had exhausted my Spanish vocabulary on that phrase and he spoke no English but we sat on the bench and managed to conduct some kind of conversation using sign language of a sort. He'd managed to convey that he'd seen me drawing and then came out with the only English phrase I think he knew... a bit like my toca muy bien... he said "You like 'assis?" and pulled out a huge lump of hashish and tried to sell it to me. He took no offense at my refusal (which, back then, was due more to my lack of funds and need to draw reasonable caricatures than actual aversion) and continued to play until the train arrived.

As soon as we got on the train, he handed me his guitar to hold onto while he disappeared off along the carriages to sell his hashish. He returned about three stops later... at any one of which I could have got off with his guitar, a clearly valuable instrument and his main livelihood. He had a couple of companions that he'd met on the train, one of whom spoke a little English so we managed a slightly more in depth conversation through his friend. I remarked that he must be crazy to leave his guitar with a total stranger like that. His response was that I wasn't a stranger because I was doing what he was doing... trying to make a buck off the tourists. He understood me so he knew he could trust me. Also, he knew I understood him so I couldn't steal from him.

The interesting thing is that, if I'd bought any hash from him, he'd almost certainly have sold me a short weight just as I would have over-charged him for a caricature had he been unfamiliar with the currency because that was what we expected of each other.

Trust isn't about expecting the best of each other; it's about knowing each other and understanding each other's frailties. It's about accepting the tiny, inconsequential betrayals while knowing that you could put something precious into the other's hands and know that it will be cherished. I think perhaps those who trust the least are betrayed the most.

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