2013 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year to all!

See you out there

Andy

@canayjun on Twitter

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It’s Christmas… and I’m Goin Home – Bill Wood Video

Because Christmas…

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is just past – I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends. I know we were certainly fortunate to have so many people drop in and visit Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was even better, time spent with my parents for brunch and then a visit to our close friends in Hamilton where the proverbial feast was held.

It’s a time of year to be thankful and remember what the word home means to all of us. The music video here is from my old friend Bill Wood, a veteran of the Canadian music industry, who still turns out powerful and energetic original tunes in a style all his own. “I’m Goin Home”, is one of the best new Christmas songs I have heard in a long time. The chorus, “…it’s Christmas”, stays in my head and in my heart. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Now New Year’s is coming! After a long hiatus, I expect the MissionLog blog to take on a new life for 2014 with a greater focus on street level organizations that are making a real difference by helping and housing the homeless.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Andy — @canayjun

Winter in Burlington

Join the #Whyhomeless Movement – Help the Homeless

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url –

http://bit.ly/19vTNG

Welcome to the continuing series exploring the root causes of homelessness. This is the #whyhomeless movement. A grassroots social action group committed to alleviating the challenges faced by people who are experiencing homelessness. Based in Toronto, but pursuing a worldwide issue,  we think global, but ACT local. I’ve proposed the creation of a task force to re-examine the core issues and we now have a small tight knit team and held the first #whyhomeless meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 in Toronto hosted by the kind folks at the Ferret & Firkin Pub on Spadina. (The sweet potato fries are worth the visit alone – join us for the next meeting).

good energy

In my last post I said:

We need innovative problem solving techniques to be applied in an environment that fosters freedom of thought and unity of purpose. We need to remember the most important stakeholders in this process – the homeless men, women and children themselves.

The meeting was a lot of brainstorming mixed with a backgrounder on Project417, the non-profit that launched the #whyhomeless movement. Here are some of the ideas that were presented – ( Thanks Darlene, Giulia, Jenn, April, and Rahim).

A home for the homeless –

It’s proposed that we purchase a home in the downtown Toronto area and develop it as a supportive transitional home for up to four members of our community who are experiencing homelessness. Partnerships created with banking, real estate, city programs, churches and exisiting community organizations. This is activism at its most basic – people are homeless. Let’s provide them with a home.

A street-based community newspaper –

There are two (or three) “homeless outreach” newspapers on the streets of Toronto right now. Only one publishes regularly. One has content that could only be described as racist conspiracy theory on steroids. A recent attempt at a new publication (that most of us were involved in) was co-opted by some folks who probably were more interested in a paycheck than in truly involving the homeless. We’re going to take another run at it. It will involve members of the homeless community from the ground up. Publisher, editors, journalists, photography, design, marketing, advertising, online edition, distribution and vendors – ALL will be people who are or who have recently experienced homelessness. It will contain real news that people want to read, it will pay its own way, it will engender a spirit of mentorship and it will provide valuable on-the-job training and work experience.

MeetUp.com volunteer building –

The first MeetUp.com Project417 Sandwich Run to the Homeless last month was a great success. Thanks Giulia and Darlene. Project417 already hosts more than two thousand volunteers a year, handing out meals to the homeless. Tapping into the local community through MeetUp could realistically add another 1,000 volunteers annually, add new routes and areas of the city, and introduce more caring people to the #whyhomeless movement.

A canteen truck for the Sandwich Runs to the homeless

We have in the past made use of volunteer and staff vans to extend the reach of delivering nutritious meals to the homeless out on the streets. It’s proposed that a canteen (camper) van/truck be purchased and operated to increase the effectiveness of street outreach to the homeless. This includes partnering with organizations, like the Salvation Army and Light Patrol – who already operate vehicle outreach. There is a side benefit in that people trained on the canteen will also have skills needed in our Emergency & Disaster Response programs.

The Co-op community housing model –

Co-operative housing has fallen out of favour in recent years for affordable housing projects (very few new Co-op units have been constructed) But it is in fact, the future of affordable housing because it involves residents directly in building healthy communities – new co-op model efforts should encompass local green environmental initiatives, community gardens (buy local), childcare, education, elder care, health care and non-traditional approaches to transitional homes.

The “residence” housing model –

Very simply – why are there only “residences” for college and university students? That type of cooperative living environment can be ideal for any youth leaving home, seeking their first jobs and looking for an affordable place to live and eat.

A Fair Trade Cafe –

Hey, we’re Canadian, eh? We love coffee. We love the homeless. So a coffee house to support the homeless community is a natural,  right?

A Fundraising Party –

Coming soon to a Toronto venue near you! It’s time for the next Project417, and the first #whyhomeless fundraiser. Room for plenty of fun loving people. Some good eats and refreshments. Great band – live music, dancing. Special guests, auctions and more. Announcement coming soon.

Using Social Media to help the Homeless –

We need a Project417.com website makeover and a launch pad for the #whyhomeless Movement and need to recruit industry expertise in new media, social media and web apps. You may already be part of the #whyhomeless Movement. If not go to Twitter and tweet homelessness issues and news with the #whyhomeless tag. Make friends with like minded people who care about the homeless (follow @canayjun). Submit a comment here. Re-post this on your blog, share it on Facebook. Email a link to your friends, post it on Digg or Reddit. Visit Twitter and connect with other friends like @MLFNOW , @_CSM_ , @joeelkerton or @invisiblepeople.

Stay tuned for more updates – comment here if you’re interested in attending our next meeting – Wednesday, Sept. 9th at 8PM.

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UPDATE – Meeting tonite 9/9/9 8pm at BLCF, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto – or visit the Community Dinner (all welcome) at 6pm first. Directions here or tweet @canayjun

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What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part 5

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url –

http://tinyurl.com/whyhomeless

In my last post I said:

We need to re-visit the issue of the root causes of homelessness and use our findings to publicly articulate an actionable plan to reduce homelessness. We need to wrest control of the issues from interest groups and some activist organizations which, in my opinion, have co-opted the true needs of our homeless friends. We need to make recommendations that can be life changing and give hope to our entire community.

NA_helps

Naturally, this has garnered a fair level of criticism from some existing homeless service providers.  I ask once again that people who are working so tirelessly to improve the lives of our homeless friends not view the ongoing quest to redefine the root causes of homelessness as an indictment – our goal is to identify major risk factors before people become homeless and to do this we must move out of the realm of considering homelessness primarily as a poverty issue.  This can only strengthen existing homeless services.  In contrast to “housing first” based efforts, as a grassroots program Project417’s #whyhomeless movement will be a people centered community development effort.

We’re not alone in our search to re-define homeless services. Alan Graham, founder and president of Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas recently announced a groundbreaking program to survey the homeless themselves to determine their critical needs.  He posted this startling declaration:

ISSUE:  Despite decades of heart-felt attempts at finding solutions, millions of dollars and countless hours of effort, the homeless services system in the United States is officially broken. There are few, if any, large, transformational, paradigm-shifting programs that are effectively, productively and permanently moving homeless people off of the streets and into meaningful and purposeful solutions. Many services are tiny band-aids on a gaping and gushing wound: one meal for a person who doesn’t have a regular source of nutrition, one counseling service with no continuation of care, one night of shelter in a public, crowded facility. In August 2009 an Austin collaboration will be conducting a landmark survey of the area homeless population. The goal is to better understand the needs of the chronically homeless, in hopes of creating transformational change. The results of this survey will be the foundation for a full day educational and community action symposium in March 2010. [in Austin, Texas]

At Project417 we believe that people have priority over money, structures, systems and other institutions.  At Project417, a program of Ekklesia Inner City Ministries,  our Executive Director,  Rev. Joe Elkerton has a long history of ministering to and advocating for the homeless in Toronto going back over twenty years. He promotes a vision of people centered community development.  From the Project417 mission statement on our website:

Our definition of development is –

“people in community engaging in a spiritual, social, physical, economic and political process of positive transformation towards a sustainable future”.

People centered development focuses on the well being of people and their living system while promoting the worth and dignity of all human beings. It therefore encompasses value change, popular participation, human resource development, gender issues, appropriate technology, children’s issues and sustainability.

People centered development “emphasizes the process of development and its essential focus on personal and institutional capacity”. It also rejects the notion of experts, asserting instead that no one is outside of the development process and that each person has something to contribute as sell as something to learn.

People centered development seeks the active involvement of all stakeholders in every stage of the development process. It affirms the worth and contribution of every community member. It promotes transparency, justice and equity, asserting that the first priority in resource allocation should be the achievement of community objectives related to the satisfaction of the basic needs of all community members”.

In my last post, I invited any and all who are interested in resolving homelessness in our communities to join a “taskforce” to determine the root cause of homelessness with the purpose to prevent, treat and heal homelessness.  More correctly it should not yet be referred to as a taskforce because the root issues are not yet defined, so specific tasks can’t be assigned. We need innovative problem solving techniques to be applied in an environment that fosters freedom of thought and unity of purpose. We, like Mobile Loaves and Fishes , need to remember the most important stakeholders in this process – the homeless men, women and children themselves.

everywhere

You can be a valuable part of this process. Join the #whyhomeless movement. Submit a comment here. Re-post this on your blog, share it on Facebook.  Email a link to your friends, post it on Digg or Reddit. Visit Twitter and connect with me @canayjun or other friends like @MLFNOW , @_CSM_ , @joeelkerton or @invisiblepeople.  Tweet homelessness issues to the world on Twitter and include the tag #whyhomeless so we can track the movement.

Come back and visit the blog here for the next post in this series.

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What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? – Part 4

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url –

http://tinyurl.com/whyhomeless

A Call to Action:

In Parts 1 to 3 of the series, we have investigated the root cause of homelessness.  I mentioned the need to decide upon a definition of homelessness.  I’d like to postpone that for a short time because there is a window of opportunity right now to impact homelessness services that requires a call to action.  There is an excellent article on defining “homelessness” by Lyne Casavant, of the Political and Social Affairs Division, Government of Canada,  from January 1999 at “Definition of Homelessness”.

I recently proposed the formation of a task force on the root causes of homelessness in an email to some key stakeholders here in Canada, because as I have said –

the issue of affordable housing does not sufficiently capture the underlying “root” cause of homelessness

My message was addressed to the members of the EFC Roundtable on Poverty and Homelessness – advocates in their own right representing several organizations devoted to helping the homeless. I also included Joe Elkerton, our Executive Director at Project417 and several other stakeholders, friends and community members with a heart for the homeless. The text of that message follows –

city of angels

“Some of you I have met and had a chance to discuss the challenges in ministering to the homeless.  I’ve been with Joe Elkerton at Project417 – Ekklesia Inner City Ministries for more than five years – my position there is 100% faith based and I was commissioned to this work with the homeless by my home church,  Mississauga Chinese Baptist Church.  Primarily I work out on the streets of Toronto year round in what we call “sandwich runs” to the homeless with over 2,000 volunteers every year. I’m currently engaged in a process that is exploring the root causes of homelessness – in a series of posts at my blog  (quicklink http://tinyurl.com/whyhomeless )  and I would appreciate your comments and input.

More –  in keeping with the spirit of the Ottawa manifesto, I would suggest that now is the time to –

“…SPEAK on [the homeless’] behalf when their own voices are not heard, and support them in speaking for themselves, to the end that Canadian churches, governments, media and businesses would make the substantial reduction of homelessness, poverty and their root causes a high priority”.

I know that each of you works tirelessly for the homeless both in your respective organizations and as members of the EFC roundtable – don’t consider it an indictment when I say that we have not yet done enough for our homeless friends. Consider it a call to action or a call to arms:

” — Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon… Neh. 4:17

We need to re-visit the issue of the root causes of homelessness and use our findings to publicly articulate an actionable plan to reduce homelessness. We need to wrest control of the issues from interest groups and some activist organizations which, in my opinion, have co-opted the true needs of our homeless friends. We need to make recommendations that can be life changing and give hope to our entire community. We all suffer the effects of homelessness in our society.  One of our friends, Bob Buckley,  has said recently in his blog The Pathway to Hope –

“Our society in it’s desire to help the brokenhearted,  is part of the problem. We provide enough care to maintain a level of survival that I would call the living dead”.

All of us when pressed admit the root causes of homelessness are complex, but complexity is not impossible to fathom. We all know the simple straight-forward answers most people give for homelessness –

# Alcohol and drug abuse, addictions
# Loss of a job, the economy, bankruptcy
# Family problems and break-ups
# Lack of education – not being qualified for well paying job
# Poor judgment, making bad choices and laziness
# Choice – some people just choose to be homeless
# Mental illness
# Physical disability
# Abuse in the home – youth runaways
# Violence against women


To these are most often added
a key element – the lack of affordable housing.  Housing has become the clarion call for many homeless service organizations across Canada and the United States and for some time, I too thought that was the key, (or adequate housing to use the UN definition in which affordability is but one factor).  But we all know that it is still not so simple.  All of the homeless must be missing one thing in common, like lacking the anti-bodies to fight a disease. I often tell my volunteers they are missing just one person who cares. Love is the missing ingredient.  And our Christian community is called by Christ to be the people who love other people.  We have the Author of love as our example. God IS love. We are called by love its very self to love both our neighbours and our enemies.

How then is this “lack of love” manifested in people before they become homeless – because that is what we must address. We are all very skilled at loving the homeless after the fact. It is this realization that suggests that homelessness is not primarily a poverty issue. Here in Canada at least, it is not primarily the poor that are becoming homeless.  Homelessness visits every strata of our society, rich and poor.  The poverty-centric disaster relief and healing services must continue – we can do no less.  But we must take the next steps in the fight against homelessness – just as with heart disease or diabetes – Prevention and search for the cure.

Many of you have already said as much, although in different words. Greg Paul writes on the EFC website –

Although these “reasons” are some of the huge problems to be addressed if my friends are ever to find homes, these aren’t the root cause why they have ended up living on the street. Experiences of significant and repeated physical and/or sexual abuse—which many studies correlate with roughly 85 percent of homeless youth—now that gets a little closer to the bone…

Joe Elkerton has discussed with me the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – displayed amongst our most chronically homeless street friends, especially of the First Nations,  and how their inner pain triggers the terrible and self-destructive behaviour we witness daily.

A recent study by Dr Stephen Hwang at St. Mike’s reveals that more than one in three of Toronto’s homeless suffered a traumatic brain injury prior to ending up on the streets .

A recent study I became aware of only days ago, by Heather Larkin of the University of Albany – shows the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACE – and homelessness. From her study –

More than 85 percent of the homeless respondents reported having experienced at least one of 10 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). Many (52.4 percent) had experienced more than four categories of traumatic events when growing up. … There is a high ACE prevalence among the homeless people in this study. Individuals with high ACE scores may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and cultural oppression, a person-environment interaction increasing the likelihood of homelessness. Service responses focused on identifying and addressing childhood traumas hold an opportunity for addressing ACEs before they contribute to homelessness.”

I’d suggest a task force be assembled to re-define from the ground up the root causes of homelessness, refine the church’s response, to separate service responses pre- and post-homeless, to help prevent, treat and heal homelessness in our community. You’re all invited.

We really should meet.

<><
Andy Coats
Project417
andyc@project417.com

:: Forward this to anyone you like and re-print it onyour website or blog

:: connect with me on Twitter @canayjun and join the #whyhomeless movement

Acts 3:1-7
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.  And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. NASB

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Chief Phil Fontaine and AFN receive Pope’s apology for abuse

ChiRo dreamcatcher::

Pope expresses sorrow over residential school abuses –

Papal visit results in apology

Pope’s expression of sorrow over deplorable treatment of First Nations native children in Canadian Residential Schools assimilation program where the Catholic Church ran 90% of the schools. Abuse was…

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Telecom giant Nortel files for bankruptcy

ECONOMIC Crisis Worsens –

Telecom giant Nortel Networks Corp. (TSX:NT) and several of its units have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a court in the United States. The move comes shortly after shares in the company were halted on the TSX pending news.[source Yahoo! CP]end of excerpt… . (more updates here shortly on the impact on Canadian economy and deepening recession, check back soon for analysis)

To say we have been expecting this is an understatement – after shares tumbled to the 30 cent range recently. To say we are looking forward to this is a mis-statement. Nortel has been so important to the Canadian economy, even a way of life, when you look at the pervasiveness of Nortel hardware throughout the Bell and other telco customers across the country. That old clunker dial phone you’ve been hanging on to as a collectors item in the basement? – Nortel made it ( or Northern Telecom). For a very long time in Canada, their name was ubiquitous in the business telephone system market – a Bell system was a Nortel system was a phone system – wait there are other manufacturers? How have they fallen so far from a stellar history – especially one filled with so much groundbreaking technological inventiveness.  How will this affect measures to ease poverty  and homelessness in Canada? Check back here and to the Canada News Commentary blog at  canayjun.blogspot.com for more in depth analysis.

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