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The homeless: Urban Nomads
The homeless, despicable as they are to many of us, are a group of citizens who live sustainably in an urban setting. Since charities do not provide for the homeless anywhere near what they need to subsist the homeless adapt and live admirably among us. They eat out of garbage cans, which recycles our wasted excess. They wear minimal clothing and their bodies learn to adjust to temperature extremes. They live without plumbing, water or electricity. They get by without an income or life, medical, dental or eye insurance. They travel long distances on foot or by thumb, on trains or rideshare. They live outside year round watching the seasons change, seeing the moon wax and wane, noticing the perseid showers, the comets, the strange and unusual, the warming climate, the northern lights deeper south this year and a host of natural phenomena invisible to city dwellers and house-rats. They survive on rice or bread, without coffee or chocolate, they consider a cigarette a luxury, and luxury an extravagance. They just as often travel with animal friends that are equally unwelcome in the civilized world or feed the birds, name the feral cats, notice the pigeons. They work odd jobs, collect recycling or panhandle for just the bare minimum. They own almost nothing because that is what they can carry.

They camp out on public land to remind us that public land isn't really public, they light fires to remind us that the oldest way to heat ourselves is now illegal, they sleep in doorways and on sidewalks to remind us that coming and going isn't just about commerce, they squat in condemned houses to remind us that freedom isn't free and they show us that we need to remember that there is something lost when living and alive are separated into two different categories - one meaning to make money and one meaning to be in existence.

When intentional community is considered think about being homeless - it just means nomadic, or tribal. Sustainable means maximizing minimalizing. Minimal living is sustainable and if we are willing to pay for sustainable then we should be willing to approve of minimal. If we can admire the native ways of life we can admire the Urban Nomads and learn something about being less fastidious in order to be more intentional about waste and want. Doesn't matter how you got there, once you get grubby you are already closer to going green and being organic than you were before.
Reminds me a bit of the "freegan" movement, which certainly isn't homelessness, but in many ways leverages the extreme waste of urban areas to fuel their lifestyles. From what I understand, Freegans boycott purchasing just about everything, choosing instead to dumpster dive for food, clothing, and furniture, eschewing cars, and sometimes living in "rent-free" housing.

Another thing I admire about the freegan lifestyle is their tendency to take abandoned lots and turn them into beautiful community gardens.

I'm not sure I have the guts to walk away from my current lifestyle to such an extreme, but it's inspiring to know that people can do so much with so little, and makes me want to consider how to reduce my footprint more.
That's so cool! Have heard homeless kidz discussing it but didn't realize it was a movement. Awesome.
Freeganism generally has to do with not purchasing animal products (similar to veganism) but consuming free animal products that do not contribute to animal exploitation.  Cheese isn't vegan but cheese found in a dumpster is freegan because no money is going to the industry producing it.  However this can be extended to choosing not to provide any input to the industrial economy and only consuming things that are free. 

A lot of other ideas come up with by the poor and/or freegan kids are really innovative ways to be more green as well as save money.

If you're interested in more about the freegan culture, here are links to a couple of really excellent zines.  They have some really terrific information.  They're in half-size book format so you'll have to print them to read them, print double-sided if you can and change the print setting to short-edged binding. 

Ghetto Garden:  http://olymedia.mahost.org/ghettogardening.pdf
Feral Forager:  http://olymedia.mahost.org/feralforager.pdf
 
alexisavoire wrote:
The homeless, despicable as they are to many of us, are a group of citizens who live sustainably in an urban setting. Since charities do not provide for the homeless anywhere near what they need to subsist the homeless adapt and live admirably among us. They eat out of garbage cans, which recycles our wasted excess. They wear minimal clothing and their bodies learn to adjust to temperature extremes. They live without plumbing, water or electricity. They get by without an income or life, medical, dental or eye insurance. They travel long distances on foot or by thumb, on trains or rideshare. They live outside year round watching the seasons change, seeing the moon wax and wane, noticing the perseid showers, the comets, the strange and unusual, the warming climate, the northern lights deeper south this year and a host of natural phenomena invisible to city dwellers and house-rats. They survive on rice or bread, without coffee or chocolate, they consider a cigarette a luxury, and luxury an extravagance. They just as often travel with animal friends that are equally unwelcome in the civilized world or feed the birds, name the feral cats, notice the pigeons. They work odd jobs, collect recycling or panhandle for just the bare minimum. They own almost nothing because that is what they can carry.

They camp out on public land to remind us that public land isn't really public, they light fires to remind us that the oldest way to heat ourselves is now illegal, they sleep in doorways and on sidewalks to remind us that coming and going isn't just about commerce, they squat in condemned houses to remind us that freedom isn't free and they show us that we need to remember that there is something lost when living and alive are separated into two different categories - one meaning to make money and one meaning to be in existence.

When Intentional Community is considered think about being homeless - it just means nomadic, or tribal. Sustainable means maximizing minimalizing. Minimal living is sustainable and if we are willing to pay for sustainable then we should be willing to approve of minimal. If we can admire the native ways of life we can admire the Urban Nomads and learn something about being less fastidious in order to be more intentional about waste and want. Doesn't matter how you got there, once you get grubby you are already closer to going green and being organic than you were before.


Heck I dont have medical or dental insurance LOL
My aunt didnt have water or plumbing up til she died a year ago she was 94 yrs old. She had a nice old country house. She would use a slop jar and a bucket to retrieve water from the creek. She was old in her ways and a tough old gal.

Squatting in condemned houses doesnt remind me freedom isnt free. thats called trespassing and nowhere in life are you promised a free house. Freedom doest give you the right to own a home. Freedom gives you the right to go out and work for it so you can buy one freely.
I'm a bit more with pixel on this one. I don't tend to think romatically about homelessness. being without insurance or the means to obtain mdical care means you go without or you pass the costs on to others. I don't think that homeless means nomadic. Homeless means mental illness drug abuse and disability, dependence on others and a shortened hard life. It means hurting those who love and care for you or who you are supposed to love and care for. It often means aquiring resources no matter whether the method is legal or moral. imo
I had the interesting experience of moving straight from a fairly off-the-grid , lifestyle on Orcas Island straight into Capitol Hill in Seattle. One of the biggest shockers to me was the stigma in the city against folks who were even 'dressed for the weather'. On Orcas there was this equalizing effect (maybe because even the folks living in tents were still likely to come from pretty privileged backgrounds) because so many people lived off the land in many ways.

Then in Seattle I get those interesting looks just wearing a wool hat and hauling a huge backpack on occasion. I had an appreciation for how the stigma against homeless people makes it that much harder for them to have access to resources (like a library bathroom or something). Orcas, true, is a false reality in many ways, but when varied people are living off the land then varied people have equal access to resources.

This a thought, not on glamourizing the homeless but in appreciating of the two-way street that information can be flowing in. (Homeless folks may be more likely to know seasonal patterns and what's happening throughout the city for flowering times or something, and a gardener with food to spare may appreciate that info)
Word Alexis,
I dig where you're coming from. There are lessons to be learned from the "Homeless". Not all homeless people are on drugs or thieves. In fact most of the homeless in Yosemite are Physicist and authors that just decided they rather climb and sleep in hills. I can't point fingers, but we all live short hard lives. Not just the homeless. It's what we already expect from life that makes it hard or kooshy. I'm not trying to be homeless, but if I can live without certain things and still be happy, I've lowered the amount of impact on the greater society, and maybe then there will be some bread left for my neighbors and vice-versa.

Really I think the main point isn't, "Hey homeless people got it figured out", but "Wow, maybe I can survive if I eat smaller meals or leave the heat off and just pile on the blankets." If anything is a great excuse to cuddle.
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An interesting original post here.  Romantic and not very accurate, but interesting.

There is a wide range of reasons why people are homeless, from severe mental problems, to a basic inability to deal with the problems of life, under- or uneducated to the point where it's almost impossible to find a job, etc.  Some are only homeless rather temporarily. For others, it's virtually almost all they know.

They eat out of garbage cans to survive, not with any high-minded ideas of recycling.  Their ability to deal with temperature extremes can vary tremendously, as many die from exposure, although few make the news.

They don't usually live without plumbing, water or electricity, they use public buildings, public restrooms and if they are lucky enough to have a vehicle, public rest areas, even if they're only there at night.

Many of them do have some kind of income, although it amounts to close to half of poverty level.

"Getting by" without medical care means they tend not to live very long.  A study in King Co, WA, indicated that the average age of death of homeless people was 47, and most of them had at least three health conditions, and some as many as eight. http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/news/2004/04121301.aspx

They live outside in the weather because they have few other choices. The weather is not a romantic notion so much as an enemy that can kill them in a few hours if they're not careful.

They don't live outdoors, or in abandoned buildings to make a point --- it's the bottom line to survival.  Many are beaten, stabbed, raped and threatened in their search to find a safe place to sleep.  It isn't nomadic, tribal or romantic, is is bare survival. Some go to sleep and never wake up.

Sue
Again it all depends on your expectations. I think many generations have lived happy comfortable lives without medical/dental or even an accredited education, but that's all beside the point. In many cities across the globe there are organized groups of street kids the meet up each week for an urban harvest. They discuss what shops are trashing all kinds of good food. They divy entire cities between squad sized teams to harvest unused food and materials. The majority in the US that I'm aware of are educated citizens that are pioneers in a quickly changing economy. So yes, there are things we can learn from the homeless.

Dumpster Diving for Fun & Profit
integrating homeless people in permaculture designs may be mutually beneficial. sure, you'd have to be a bit selective, but look at the homeless garden project in santa cruz http://www.homelessgardenproject.org

many people are homeless due to socioeconomic reasons outside of their control, and some by choice. many travel around the country for seasonal harvest jobs.

maybe creating a safe space for homeless people, providing them with surplus food (remember principle 2) and have them help with certain labor intensive tasks can be a good mutualism. many also have much to teach, whether they have a phd and are living on the street or are illiterate but great observers.

nomads and travellers also are the least vulnverable and most ancient communication system, something to keep in mind if interwebz and phones dont stick around


definitely not to be romanticized, definitely to be learned from - from skillz of bricolage and adaptability to just considering our own privilege.

rapidresponse, those are some great suggestions. I don't have any more time to discourse today, but I'll pick up again in the near future.
I first have to admit...I didn't read this whole thread.

I do however have first hand experiance as a homeless person.  I had it all, my own home, own business trucks etc...then I married poorly and was injured in a tramatic accident.  Lost said home and everything (most stolen by no good ex ). 

I did not resort to panhandling, prostitution (damn close) or thievery, but did find myself under a bridge, out of money and wondering how it happened.  It took several years to get my act together (first I had to get well enough to be able to walk properly). 

There is not much help and it seemed the more I tryed to better my situation the less help I could get.  Do not think it romantic,  carefree or fun.  For many it is not a choice.

I could never romanticize homelessness. I guess I've seen too much.

The only thing I can add to this thread is that, especially for a female (Although I'm sure it applies to all, especially children), "squatting" overnight in an abandoned home means that if you can work yourself into a corner to sleep, at least you have a roof over you to keep out the rain/dew, but also the wind can't get you and last and most importantly, you only have one direction from which you can be assaulted.

It is not a romantic situation.

Shelters are not an option. They unfortunately are mecca for other, more predatory homeless who are expert thieves and thugs, where you need eyes in the back of your head. The street is safer in many cases.

You also have to learn how not to be followed by those vigilant observers who would target you.

Most homeless folk need to be rescued from their desperate situation. I pray for them.

Blessings ,

L
A hamburger franchise is currently embroiled (pardon the pun) in a legal battle, where the central authority requires franchisees to sell a $1 product containing so much beef and cheese that they lose a significant amount of money with each sale.  The franchisees are taking this financial burden and are suing to escape this requirement.

I wonder if buying that product would count as freeganism?  It offers some support to the production apparatus, but ultimately undermines it. Like Fukuoka watering weeds in Africa to make them sprout and wilt.

It's much worse for these companies if we buy their products with an intent to harm profits than if we ignore them, because the feedback mechanisms of a corporation will see sales and increasing market share that will prompt the promotion of incompetents and similar misallocations of resources.  As soon as they price products in a way that allows franchisees to stay in business, sales would decline a lot more sharply than predicted, and likely prompt a desperate reaction.

To my mind, this is very much in the vein of "going the extra mile," or handing over your underwear when you are sued for your coat. (If this reference makes no sense, this great article may help: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1216-30.htm )
I appreciate this movement. And in my strong opinion (but everyone has different opinions), many of the freeganism things should be legal instead of illegal.

We created so many boundaries around ourselves and around nature, that yes, like freegans, I consider than money is an evil (despite that I am living in the money world at the moment). Private property is also an evil in my own opinion, although I am aware it would be extremely difficult with the current level of our ethical and human evolution (a very primitive society) to live without that concept. But in an ideal world, money and private property would not exist. In an ideal world, shelter, food and water would be given rights not prices to earn!

No animal does that, and in my own opinion, I think its a weird primitive behavior this sort of thinking that one must earn its own shelter, food and water.

Anyways, in this world, I still think that squatting should be given a change by authorities, especially when the property being squatted is already abandoned and falling down of old, as many are. When so many people live without a roof and others live in a luxury, I only think its ethical that this type of squatting is ethical, despite being currently illegal. There are enough roofs for everyone, I could almost guess.

For me this is like rioting against a dictatorship: its an illegal act of disobedience but its an ethically necessary act. Still right and wrong are human notions and personal. The issue is not whether it is right or wrong, but that it actually happens because there is unused shelter and there is demand, a need. Nature always tries to balance things out, and humans are part of nature.

More accurately I could say, without any shade of ambiguity that our current society and societal ethics and morals are very unfair and promoting human suffering rather than preventing. This logic of "you ought earn your own living" is a very selfish one, it promotes everyone by itself and destroys any sense of community, and in the long term it leads to conflicts and human suffering. The US, based in such a logic, is one of the most selfish societies of our planet, and also killing and making many suffer because of it. That's my observation of things, therefore I chose to completely erase that logic from my mind, as I consider it one of a primitive society. In the long term, such kind of culture is doomed to fail. And a new way of thinking will emerge. Time will show us this.

When that time arrives, the homeless will be a part of the pioneers of a new culture. I envy them for not having the courage of becoming so. I only can sleep outdoors in the long term in a subtropical climate. So in a way I understand that the sense of private property was invented when the need for shelter was great, because of a harsh climate and environmental threats. In that process, we removed ourselves from nature, and mostly from our human side, and in doing so, we created more suffering than we eliminated.

I just sincerely think that we can be a bright species if you want to, and if use our heads, we can create systems that are not only harmonious with nature and with the rest of the life, but also eliminate social suffering, by eliminating the need to struggle to get a shelter, food and water for most of us. We can still keep the money system but at same time assure shelter, water and food for everyone, without exception. That's the only human thing to do. Many homeless people suffer and giving them a change, to care for their needs, is the human thing to do. But that's my opinion. Perhaps others think differently.


My comment can feel to some as a kind of a blow or lofty idealism, and I reckon many could even feel infuriated by it. But I guess and I hope that people, in the long term, will understand the logic behind this, and make efforts to implement these goals for our societies.
I've had personal experience working with about 500 men from the fringes of society. For a few, very few, the lifestyle was adopted as a protest against everything that they dislike about the state of the world.

The vast majority have substance abuse issues.
The financial and time commitment that a drug problem demands, leaves little time, money or energy for other things. There is nothing romantic or laudable about this miserable existence. Most live in a self imposed prison consisting of a few blocks in the downtown core.

Some have underlying mental issues which may have led them to drugs.

The shelters are cesspools of crime and disease.
Those who choose a life on the streets, usually camp in parks to avoid unsavory types and to dodge the rules of conduct that shelters insist upon.

Charitable organizations give out blankets, tarps and clothing. Thousands of these items are abandoned in the parks and on the streets.

Littering, graffiti, and other property damage are a team sport among this crowd. Bikes are stolen and abandoned regularly while cars are robbed. Violent incidents are a daily occurrence at the shelters and on the streets.

I haven't found anything to like about this lifestyle,
and I've witnessed it as more than just a casual observer.

Drugs and the lack of self respect and control that they breed, is the major contributor to homelessness amongst the many whom I've known.

There are many nomads who travel in search of work and adventure, but they are not the ones commonly referred to as homeless, since in this case it is simply a lifestyle choice. I have lived nomadicly but have never counted myself among the homeless.
Real nomads in places like Mongolia and North Africa tend to have camels, donkeys and goats. These animals can all survive on poor grazing, and they don't need any feeding.  They supply the nomads with milk and (occasionally) meat.   There was a goat man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ches_McCartney)  who toured America in a goat cart,  living off the goat milk and whatever else he could forage.  So it is actually possible for the homeless to become nomads, but they have to get these animals.  Then they have shelter (tents), food and transport at zero cost.  Exactly like the real nomads in Mongolia and Africa.  Another example is 3 Mules:  www.3mules.com.
Coming from the punk scene myself, there is a very large nomadic squatter punk movement that would likely surprise many people. A lot of it has learned from the old culture of the hobos, and has borrowed a lot from the train hopping hobo culture. It is actually a very interesting subculture. These folks move about, traveling from once side of the country to the other, going north and south. Even going country to country, there are many who hop over to Europe and then wander there or from Europe to the Americas and wander here.

Something I have noticed about this sub culture is there is a strong belief in society offers so much excess that it's scraps can support them. And that is exactly what they do. They not only survive, but thrive off the scraps of society.

While maybe not "real nomads" like Mongolians. These folks are nomads, just nomadic scavengers. Though I would say they have not become a true full on culture of multigenerational nomadic people. Like the gypsy (Roma). Though if these squatter punks keep going, they may eventually develop into something akin to the Roma and be more true nomads with generations of people born into it, and a distinct unique culture.
I child proofed my house but they still get in. Distract them with this tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC



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Apr 24, 2017 03:30:55.