Libraries, "the last bastion of democracy," are a haven for America's 500,000 homeless people, where literature, Internet access, and nonfiction can come together to provide respite from the relentless brutality of life on the streets. Read the rest
Lava Mae is a startup that renovates donated, surplus San Francisco city buses, fitting them out with accessible showers that can be brought to homeless people around town. Read the rest
The Dutch homelessness charity Badt dressed mannequins as homeless people, sawed coin-slots in their foreheads, and seeded them around Amsterdam with signs soliciting donations. It's a clever campaign, but it says something a little unpleasant, in that we are apparently more willing to give money to a doll with a slot in its forehead than an actual homeless person. Read the rest
A program in Salt Lake City decided that it would be smarter -- and more humane -- to spend $11K/year each to house 17 chronically homeless people and provide them with social workers than it would be to waste the average of $16,670/year per person to imprison them and treat them at emergency rooms. As Nation of Change points out, this commonsense, humane and economically sound way of dealing with homelessness works, unlike the savage approaches taken by other cities (like the Waikiki rep Tom Bowker who smashed homeless peoples' carts with a sledgehammer, or cities like Tampa, which banned feeding homeless people).
Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!
Electronic Frontier Foundation Could there be a year that's more relevant to the EFF? As Edward Snowden has made abundantly clear, there is a titantic, historic battle underway to determine whether the Internet is there to liberate us or to enslave us. EFF's on the right side of history, and I figure giving them all I can afford is a cheap hedge against the NSA's version of the future. —CD
Creative Commons CC continues to make a difference -- this year, they released the 4.0 version of their flexible licenses, a major milestone. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD
Wired profiles Darrell Pugh, a formerly homeless man who teaches people who have no homes or are otherwise in economically precarious position how to use networks and computers, at the Tenderloin Technology Lab in San Francisco. It's an amazing story and draws an important connection between technological literacy and the ability to live a full life in modern society. Pugh's own perspective on this ("Educating myself and passing what I know onto other people so they can try, that’s all part of what I think we need to do. We shouldn’t hold back our knowledge from each other. We should share it so we’re all better.") is fantastic. Read the rest
As you know, Abercrombie and Fitch is a horrible shitshow of a company whose owner refuses to make large sized clothes so that "unattractive people" can't wear them, and who burns surplus clothing rather than donating it to charity to keep their clothes off poor peoples' backs. So Gkarber has set out to make the brand synonymous with homelessness, by clearing out thrift shops' supply of A&F and bringing it to skid row and giving it to homeless people. He'd like you to participate by clearing out your closets and donating any A&F to your local homeless charity..
The Camden Council in London removed many public benches, apparently in an effort to chase out vagrants. A group of Guerrilla Benchers were offended by this, and responded by reinstalling their own benches on the sites of the old street furniture.
Camden council in London decided to remove several public benches, for the benefit of the public last year. Along with a scheme to convert all bus stops to be fitted with un-usable benches. The basic plan seems to be to move on undesirables and homeless people away as they don't fit in with the aesthetics of the area. Rather than addressing these problems they have taken the usual tactic of moving them on and hoping that someone else will deal with them...
...Due to the colossal and inorganised nature of local councils, and their cunning disguises the guerrilla benchers were not approached or questioned by anyone as they installed the benches.
Unfortunately however the drills ran out of batteries just after the first bench had been installed. In true workman style it was obviously time for a fry-up breakfast and cup of tea whilst the batteries re-charged.
Atlanta Magazine has an interview with Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., and an excerpt from his new book "How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America."
The excerpt tells the story of 53-year-old Edna Riggs, of Atlanta, Georgia. Fear of cancer, medical debt, and losing her job caused her to not seek treatment for her breast cancer until it reached a very advanced state.
(Graphic content, may be upsetting; via @rogersmatthew)The diagnosis My Dinner with Marijuana: chemo, cannabis, and haute cuisine ... On Cost and Cancer in America When life hands you cancer, make cancer-ade: via lemonade stand ... Read the rest
Over the weekend, I noticed that David Gallagher of The New York Times observed in Austin, "Homeless people have been enlisted to roam the streets wearing T-shirts that say 'I am a 4G hotspot.”
A number of other folks I follow on Twitter who are attending the annual SXSW event there mentioned it, too, with concern. Here's the project's website, detailing their system to PayPal each "homeless hotspot" person directly. "We suggest $2 per 15 minutes."
The project was created by a team at global ad agency BBH.
Jon Mitchell at RWW has more. The problem, as he sees it:
The Homeless Hotspots website frames this as an attempt "to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations." There's a wee little difference, though. Those newspapers are written by homeless people, and they cover issues that affect the homeless population. By contrast, Homeless Hotspots are helpless pieces of privilege-extending human infrastructure. It's like it never occurred to the people behind this campaign that people might read street newspapers. They probably just buy them to be nice and throw them in the garbage.
Tim Carmody at Wired News has more about the project's roots, and why he and others find it troubling:
Read the rest
This is my worry: the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn’t care anything at all about them or their future, so long as it can score a point or two about digital disruption of old media paradigms.
The BBC's Panorama looks at the rise of semi-official homeless tent-camps in American cities. These are springing up in states where austerity "balanced budget" drives are severely cutting services. Especially concerning is the report of homeless children who are going hungry, going to bed hungry, getting dizzy from hunger, waiting through the weekend to go to school (with subsidized meals) to eat. City services -- shelters, emergency rooms, police -- actually send people to the tent cities, because there is no official place for them to go.
According to census data, 47 million Americans now live below the poverty line - the most in half a century - fuelled by several years of high unemployment.
One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland.
In the Ann Arbor camp, Alana Gehringer, 23, has had a hacking cough for the last four months.
"The black mould - it was on our pillows, it was on our blankets, we were literally rubbing our faces in it sleeping every night," she said of wintering in a tent.
The camp is run by the residents themselves, with the help of a local charity group. Calls have come in from the hospital emergency room, the local police and the local homeless shelter to see if they can send in more.
That's what the National Literacy Trust says.
Poorer children and boys were less likely to have books, it added.
The survey was carried out in September with school-aged children from 111 schools across the UK.
It suggested that a third (33.2%) did not have books of their own. That translates to 3.8m children UK-wide.