Category Archives: Anti-poverty

Envisioning the perfect job

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Now that I have a place to live and am no longer homeless, my experience of poverty is that of unemployed. I’m in the process of applying for welfare, but unless I end up being diagnosed with a ‘condition’ that reflects an inability to find or hold employment, I’m required to keep looking for work.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on what the ideal job would be, what it is I am meant to be doing, or at the very least, can tolerate enough to stay employed at. I’m lucky enough to have quite a few skills, and have been envisioning how to put them to use, and what it would look like to get paid to do so.

I think about what I currently spend my time doing. Reading and writing about poverty and homelessness takes up the vast majority of my day. I am pretty much obsessed with the fact that so many people are without the most basic of necessities in the land of plenty while so many others are oblivious to this reality, or hold misguided notions that people choose to be homeless, or deserve to be. I have been studying this issue for long enough to know that shifting people’s perceptions is extremely difficult. The reality of the situation is that those of us who do care about alleviating poverty and homelessness (and ultimately ending it) truly need to be doing everything we can.
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On seeking a diagnosis / applying for disability

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I am applying for welfare again this week, and based on the advise of several people who are close to me, I will be declaring at that time my intention to be be considered for Person With Multiple Persistant Barriers, or Person With Disability benefits.

As I mentioned in some recent blog postings, I am a deeply sensitive person, and related to this trait I also experience depression, anxiety and migrane headaches, as well as some intense ‘twitches’, (which are not done justice by the word twitch, but are not actually convulsions, either.) that are the result of repressed emotion and compounded trauma.

I have not worked a full-time job since 2003, and have not worked at all for almost 3 years. Lately I hardly even leave the house, am in a constant state of overwhelm, and stressed out so much my muscles ache.

The good news is I have a very strong sense of self-awareness. I have a path to healing that I have a hard time staying on, but is otherwise very clear to me. If it were not for this clarity and self-awareness, I would not go anywhere near a doctor’s office to talk about these things. As is stands, I feel strong enough to get a diagnosis, yet not let that diagnosis define me or mean much to me at all, except as my ticket to being able to get onto welfare and be able to pay the rent. I’ve no ‘medical history’ of mental illness symptoms because I’ve never trusted the medical system and I’ve only talked to one doctor at a walk-in clinic about these issues.
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A Poverty of Perception: Introduction

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Last week, I sent an appeal for funds to support me while I write a book. Calling it A Poverty of Perspective. I explained that it would detail my experiences with poverty and homelessness, as well some various elements of ‘poverty reduction’ and ‘anti-poverty activism.’

I’ve essentially been working on this book for four years. It started with research I undertook as part of a collective that sought to craft a proposal for a sanctioned tent city. (Temporary Autonomous Shelter Collective)

My main goal for the tent city research was to discover what the main objections were to the concept, research those obections, and formulate responses that we could use to help us further communicate the need for this project.
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A desperate need for community action on poverty.

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I live on the west coast, in a city that has the mildest weather of any city in Canada. We don’t get snow very often, and when we do, we are rarely prepared for it. I’m not talking about driving conditions. Hell no. See, this is an example of what pisses me off about the media, and the priorities of the dominant society in general. When a tanker carrying diesel crashes on the highway and spills 30,000 litres of fuel into the river, the concern is not for the salmon in that river, but for the traffic delays that the accident has caused. Along the same lines, when the weather drops below freezing and a big snow dumps on us, the media is filled with articles about what this does to driving conditions, not the fact that we still have hundreds of people out there on the street without homes.

I know what one of the problems is. Public perceptions of poverty are in drastic need of a shift into reality. Right now the dominant perception is mythical. The majority of people still seem to believe that people in poverty are lazy, and that they could solve their own poverty by just working harder. Over the years many book and reports have been written dispelling this myth, but to no avail. Recently in the US, those perceptions have started shifting, and not because people finally took the time to research and listen, but because the middle class has started slipping into poverty, and people are learning first-hand that poverty is not about laziness, but about some serious systemic problems with society.
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Justice, so that we don’t need charity!

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I wrote a blog post last month about a protest that happened outside a CBC food bank fundraiser, after reading this article on a talk radio station’s website. The article’s headline read “Some food bank users call for ‘justice, not charity’”.

I was watching a video yesterday about the challenge that MLA Jagrup Brar accepted to spend a month living on $610. In the video I noticed a sign someone was holding that said ‘Justice, so that we don’t need charity.’ I found this very interesting, and feel it is a more accurate summing up of what I work towards and what I preceived was the intent behind the protest at the CBC building. So I did a web search, and found a press release issued by the group who held the protest. And sure enough, they were not calling for ‘Justice, not Charity’, they were calling for ‘Justice, so that we don’t need charity.’ There is a big difference as far as I’m concerned. The former implies a rejection of the charity, while the latter implies that the charity is still required, but must be accompanied by demands for justice. There is a big difference. Just thought I’d repeat myself on that, in case you didn’t catch it. The journalist who wrote the article seemed to have missed it.
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Writing a Book: A Poverty of Perception

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A Poverty of Perception is a book I am writing that details my own experience with poverty and homelessness, examines the root causes of poverty, details the various anti-poverty initiatives proposed and existing and sets forth a new framework for perceiving and taking action on poverty.

I have been researching the Housing First model, various Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness, Poverty Reduction Strategies (existing and proposed on municipal, provincial and federal levels) and the idea of a National Housing Strategy, as well as MLK’s Economic Bill of Rights and the Guaranteed Annual Income. I also go into some detail on the kinds of community led projects and initiatives that are occurring in my community and elsewhere to alleviate poverty, such as salvaged food distribution and tent cities. I make an argument for a paradigm shift that sees charity replaced with justice, dignity and self determination.

I am currently unemployed and having difficulty finding work, but am a talented writer and an experienced and somewhat well known anti-poverty activist in my community. Articles I have written on poverty, homelessness and ten cities have been published many times in Street Newz.

I would love to receive some funding to pay the rent and buy some food while I work on this book.
I will be self publishing, and will be donating a portion of the sales of this book to some of the projects that I will be discussing in the book.
Click here to donate.

Challenges in Housing: One ‘homeless’ person’s situation

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As I have mentioned in other blog posts, I have experiences which seem to conform to the labels of depression, anxiety, emotional overwhelm, sensory overstimulation, migranes, tics/twitches, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.

Variously these things combine to make it difficult for me to maintain conventional employment.

I’ve spend hundreds of hours online and at the library reading about things like Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, the Highly Sensitive Person, Autistic Spectrum, Fibromyalgia, and other disorders.

While I recognize myself in many of these disorders, none really fit, and not just because I reject the mainstream clinical framework of mental health and illness. I’m pretty sure that if I were to seek out a diagnosis I would likely be labled with some condition or other that would qualify me for Person With Persistant Barriers status within the welfare system.
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The Poverty/Injustice Encounter Experiment

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Every so often you see people camping out to experience homelessness, but I also think that it would be a good experiment for people to try if they had to carry a big backpack with a bedroll strapped to it. It’s like a giant sign that says, I’m homeless, and it closes so many doors and causes so many to look away. People would be surprised how differently they will be treated wearing this…

There’s been a trend the last few years of people camping out to experience homelessness. The news is full of them in one form or another.

Camping out to experience homelessness is one thing. Doing it for charity/awareness and getting media coverage, or a watered down experiential experience is missing the point. Maybe if you’re dressed nicely people will think you are a lost tourist and offer you directions to the backpackers hostel, but if you’re dressed more ‘working class’ with an older, tattered pack, haven’t gotten a decent sleep in weeks and have been subsisting on a high carb, meager diet that takes more calories to maintain than it provides, then you might see the world through whole new eyes, and be sickened if you have any heart at all.
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Update on Grassroots Poverty Reduction Strategy

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Last week I wrote about how I’d like to see a Grassroots Poverty Reduction Strategy.

This evening I discovered that the folks at the Community Social Planning Council have been working on a Charter for Community Action on Poverty.

I met one of the people working on this, Alvaro Moreno, while organizing around grassroots responses to disaster, but had no idea until now that this charter existed. Apparently they’ve been doing presentations about it around town, but it has not gotten any media, and I found only one reference to it online on a blog post about the Victoria Youth Summit. The Community Councils own website doesn’t even have any information (that I can find) about it, except for a link to the charter.
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Poverty in the Media: Who speaks for the homeless?

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A study of coverage of homelessness in the Canadian media in the last week reveals that homeless people get only 15% of the quotes in articles about homelessness.

In my last blog post, I categorized the topics of 84 articles about homelessness. These articles represented the last 8 days worth of Canadian articles that can be found using google news search.

For this next study, I examined 58 different articles about homelessness, representing all of the articles I could find about homelessness during the period of Dec.20-25 on google news (in Canada) in which people were quoted.
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