The outpouring of support recently has been incredibly heartwarming. I never have any worry about the fate of humanity because I know how good humans are at their core. It's the institutions that typically bring out the worst in us.
Here's a picture of our messy storage space with some of the supplies people have provided.
We now have a surplus of heaters, tarps, and sleeping bags and blankets. We also have some charcoal that is really amazing.
Right now the things we are in need of:
Tents, socks, gloves, hats. We can always use sleeping bags and blankets. We have some spares right now but they go really fast. That's also true for tarps. We can never have enough tarps.
We are also going to be doing an electrical project. The things were going to need for that include:
If you have access to any of this material I would be extremely grateful. You can text me at 330-416-7519.
I've been doing a lot of research on extension cords recently. Our tiny house and garage are hard wired into the electric system of the house. But our second tiny house, tent and camper are currently being electrified with extension cords.
Over the years, I have had a lot of interaction with the fire department doing this work. And they have effectively scared the shit out of me with extension cords. They repeatedly tell me all the horror stories of houses burning down and people dying because of extension cords.
Every winter, as I strategize ways to provide heat to our houseless neighbors, I continually worry about various forms of danger.
Up until now, I have been providing buddy heaters and propane tanks for people. Due to the fact that I have at one time heated 50 tents with Buddy heaters and propane tanks, I have seen some scary things happen. I've seen buddy heaters completely melted and one woman nearly died because of carbon monoxide poisoning. The sheer numbers of people I've worked with using this form of heat significantly increases the chance of me experiencing dangerous situations.
This year is the first year I can provide electricity for everyone. Every outbuilding now has electricity running to it and small portable heaters. People just also got electric blankets which are going to be a game changer. I talked to people this morning about their experience with their electric blankets. They said they were so great they didn't even need to use their heater. Electric blankets are wonderful because they use significantly less energy than a portable heater.
I will be running more hard wired electricity throughout the yard. But in the meantime I have these three people that are on extension cords. I just came across these 14 gauge extension cords with breakers. The issue with extension cords is that people often times overload them and they get so hot they catch fire. These extension cords with breakers should cut down on the likelihood of that happening.
Like I said, this is a temporary fix until I can hardwire more outlets in the yard. But I'm pretty excited about the slightly better safety of these extension cords.
Here's a picture of what I bought:
I have many thoughts on homeless people and rules. The general belief is that homeless people don't want to go into shelters because they don't want rules. What they don't want are stupid rules like: you can't wear shorts, you can't have your purse or phone in your bed, lights out at 8:30. Yes, there are drug use rules. But those are the easiest to ignore. I could show you 10 people and ask you which of them are on meth. I guarantee you wouldn't be able to do it. I can't do it and I'm constantly around people on meth.
The fact is, homeless people (like ALL people) want rules. They want to feel safe. They want their belongings to be safe. They want to live peacefully. These are universal desires.
I've been sheltering people (again) since about April of this year. I have very intentionally avoided writing down rules because I wanted to make sure I understood what the issues of this particular group of people are.
But we are now at a point where we are in need of some foundational rules at the Houseless Movement House and Garden. I wanted to share them with you so that you can see that homeless people actually DO want rules and will abide by them if they make sense. I chose to put a "why" next to each rule so that they could understand why the rule exists. So many rules in society are pointless. And homeless people pick up on that really easily.
Click this link to get a full printout of the rules:
Houseless Movement Rules.pdf
Here they are as well:
Houseless Movement Rules
Everyone that lives in the Houseless Movement House and Garden is required to see a psychiatrist and do what they are instructed to do. (Why: Mental illness is your biggest hurdle right now.)
Physically attacking anyone (including destroying their or your own shelter) is the most serious offense here. You will most likely be thrown out. (Why: no one deserves the fear of being physically attacked.)
Stealing from anyone at the Houseless Movement House and Garden is the second most serious offense here. Doing so will cause serious consequences for you. (Why: Homeless people stealing from homeless people is a plague in our community. It must not exist in our community. “Thou shalt not steal.”)
If you live in the Garden you are only permitted to keep as many belongings as fit in your living space. You can have up to 2 outdoor chairs and 1 bicycle outside. Everything else will be thrown away immediately.
Do not attempt to repair electrical outlets or plumbing issues without checking with Sage first. This includes the furnace and water heater. (Why: messing with electric can cause fires. Messing with water can cause floods. Either one going down affects everyone.)
You are responsible for keeping your space clean and tidy. (Why: Middle-class white people are obsessed with things looking neat. It matters more to them than anything else. The quickest way we will get shut down is by looking messy and dirty and cluttered. Middle-class white people run the city and make all the rules.)
No fires or fire pits. (Why: Our neighbors hate us. They hate homeless people. And the law says they can call on any fire at any time. And they will. This will build ammunition for the city to come in and say we have too many code violations and they will shut us down.)
Do not mess with other people’s things. Do not borrow things without asking. Do not go into other people’s rooms or living spaces without asking. (Why: because you hate it when people do it to you. So why would you think it is justified if you do it to them.)
Do not take justice into your own hands. If a person has hurt you or stolen from you the process is to tell Sage. Sage will handle it. (Why: having a whole bunch of people being judge and jury creates chaos.
This is your home. We want you here. We want you to stay with us for as long as you would like. Yes. It’s a hard group of people to live with. If it gets too much, chances are that’s the world telling you it’s time to move to the next level. This is a place for people that the rest of the world has thrown away. The people you live with are difficult. You are difficult. But you are loved. And you are welcome here. We will do everything we can to keep you here because we have made a commitment to you. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules you are subject to any form of punishment including possibly being forced to leave.
These rules can be changed or updated at any time. They will be posted throughout the house.
Sage Dec 10, 2021
Do you want to know the down and dirty truth of what really goes on at the Houseless Movement House and Garden, then you need to subscribe to the behind-the-scenes stories over at Patreon. It will cost you $5. But we need it for our utilities to shelter homeless people. And I promise that you will not be disappointed by what you get at Patreon. Here is this week's tell-all story:
I've started a Patreon where I talk about all the most insane things going on at the Houseless Movement house and Garden. If you want to truly get a front-row seat to the truth of working with homeless people this is the place to do it.
You have to pay to read this stuff. But it's as raw and real as I can possibly make it.
This Week At The Houseless Movement House and Garden - November 15, 2021 | Houseless Movement on Patreon
The Houseless Movement house and Garden currently shelters 12 people and 3 dogs.
Just yesterday I handed out 4 electric heaters (this is the first time in my history of doing this work that I'm able to provide electric heat instead of propane heat.) I will probably be purchasing at least two more of these heaters. I got them at Sam's Club. They were $36 each:
If our electric bill was $240 last month, I can't imagine what it will be the upcoming months. And our furnace is now running 24/7. And we have a full service bathroom fully running that is available for any homeless person any time of the day or night. (I'm pretty sure it's the first always-available bathroom to ever be available to the homeless community in Akron.)
We have stationary tubs on the other side of this room that people can use to wash clothes as well as their hands and face.
If this cause moves you, I can't think of how you could better spend your money. We have no executives we're paying salaries to. We don't make any fancy brochures. All we spend our money on is services for homeless people.
If you are able to donate, please do so here:
If you can upgrade your Houseless Movement membership please do so here:
And I've just started a Houseless Movement Patreon where I share the down and dirty behind-the-scenes stories of all the things that go on at the Houseless Movement House and Garden. You can subscribe to that here:
It is unbelievable to me that we have to fight so hard for basic shelter and warmth and hygiene in the richest, most Christian country in the world. But we do. And it is YOU that makes it all happen. YOU are the hero we need. Our leaders stand by as American freeze and suffer while YOU stand up and do the right thing.
Thank you for all that you do. You are incredible.
I love you,
The truth of Akron is that for decades it has been run by puppets of the corporations that use Akron tax dollars to make themselves incredibly rich.
We can end this.
Revolutions are won through the dissemination of information. People have been killed by cruel governments for lesser things than this paper. The Akron Uprising will set us free from the chains of oppression that keep our backs bent and our heads facing the dirt.
WE MUST STAND UP!
This paper is meant for one thing: to empower the people of Akron.
This is how it works:
1. You fund the printing costs. (We can get 1000 full-color copies of The Akron Uprising for $899.) No money goes to salaries or rent or overhead of any kind. ALL THE MONEY GOES TO PRINT COSTS.
2. We give the paper to Akron homeless people to sell for $1. They keep the entire dollar.
You are welcome to print it and disseminate it yourself. Here is the pdf that you can download and print. You can print it and sell it or give it away. You are free to do anything you want with it. Just get it out there.
But if you are lucky enough to have a little extra money to spare then please consider contributing to the printing costs of the newspaper.
WE CAN TAKE AKRON BACK FROM THE CORPORATIONS. It happens all the time in history. It can AND WILL happen in Akron too.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE AND LEARN MORE.
Every Sunday I go to the Houseless Movement Garden to hang out with my houseless friends and the people living in the Houseless Movement House.
I bring 40 cups of coffee (including cups, sugar, creamer, and stirrers) and I bring donuts or muffins (this is another reason I need and am so thankful for you Patrons.)
This is a Patron's only post. It would help us a great deal if you'd consider becoming a member there. AND you are going to get inside information that will not be available anywhere else.
This Week's Garden Meeting - Meth, Psychosis, and the Bathroom | Houseless Movement on Patreon
Simply put, we need help with our recurring bills at the Houseless Movement House and Garden. Our water bill, electric bill and gas bill just keep growing as we shelter more people and now provide a bathroom for the homeless community in East Akron.
We also are building out some really cool projects to help the houseless community find meaningful work.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY
A couple months ago I made up my mind that I was going to start taking people who are living at our house and garden to meetings for housing and mental health help.
So, I did it. Every Friday I'd take anyone who wanted to go to a free lunch and then a homeless outreach center. I was told that both were great.
This is the first time in this entire journey I started having suicidal thoughts due to my homeless work. I have been in a very dark place that last couple months and I truly attribute it to my interactions with these organizations.
They are cold, heartless, distant. The providers all stand behind counters and desks while "the homeless" walk up begging for the services they offer. That's not the worst of it, though. It's the extreme difficulty navigating these institutions.
"No one is here to see you."
"You aren't doing this the right way."
"You can't just walk in. You need to call first."
Even repeating these experiences crushes my soul.
Homelessness in the eyes of most of society, even for the homeless service providers, is an annoying chronic, self-imposed condition. You are always made to feel less than anyone you encounter. And the system is always more important than your needs right at the moment.
Even though a person has been homeless for years, that doesn't make the need at the moment any less critical and urgent.
When I have a person who is willing to get help for mental health or addiction, I have a very small window in which to work. They will invariably change their mind if I can't get them to help in time. And then every single step along the process is difficult and frightening. Every step becomes a land mine where they could change their mind at any moment.
This week I had a friend of mine at the front doors of an emergency mental health facility. WE WERE RIGHT THERE. When he realized where I had taken him he said there was no way in hell he was walking through those doors. "Once you walk through those doors you don't come out."
These services simply don't work for some people.
Every Sunday I come over to The Garden at the Houseless Movement. I bring a 40 cup pot of coffee with creamers, and sugar, cups and stirrers. I also bring some sort of breakfast. Like donuts or muffins. (If you are willing to donate to this cause I'd love that. Click here for our donation form.)
It's kind of like church-lite. But I don't think we've ever talked directly about God.
This week the topics where:
This last point is what I want to touch on here. (And no. I'm not talking about pot. Although, pot is just fine.)
This is a topic I know nothing about.
But my homeless friends have quite a bit of knowledge about these things.
They were telling me about the medicinal qualities of honey, garlic, St. John's Wort and a bunch of other things I can't recall right now.
Very often, I can't get a person to go to the hospital to look at injuries. (A friend of mine was attacked a couple weeks ago. A person seriously bit his ear. It's very red and he says it's seeping into his ear. He will not go to the doctor.) (I did get a person to go do the doctor for a very serious burn on his leg. But I only was able to do that because I said I'd give him a tent if he'd let me take him to the emergency room.)
Look... I'm a science guy. I believe in the proven remedies put out by the mainstream medical community. But I'm at the end of ideas on how to make traditional medicine work for these people.
Fortunately, there are many people in my circle of friends who believe in non-traditional medicine. I am going to try it.
What I really need is something to calm people down. (We did come up with the idea to put up signs to remind people to drink water. Meth creates sleep deprivation, people don't eat and then they forget to drink water. So, we're going to create a campaign of reminding people to drink water. That's a good policy for drinkers and really anyone.)
A friend of mine told me that when he was living in our building he believed snipers were on the rooftops of surrounding buildings coming to kill him. He said they were as real to him as I was standing in front of him at that moment. We have to try to counteract the hallucinations caused by meth. (Please don't tell me that they need to stop taking meth. I'm working on that. I tell them that all the time. I beg them to just use pot. But the meth is cheaper and more potent.)
I need a program of "Do meth AND... drink water, take a nap, eat something or maybe try some herbal medicines."
I try to keep up on therapies to help people recover from drug use. But I am not aware of any research done to help counteract the effects of active meth use. (I can see where the conversation could head at this point, "But Sage, if you make using meth too easy they are just going to do more of it." Look: There is no Rock Bottom and there is no point at which meth is too terrible. There is only a moment when a person decides they want something different.)
I would love it if people would stop using meth and use something else. But what they usually switch to are opiates. I'm sheltering more opiate users than I have in a long time. And I'm seeing more needles in the gas station parking lots and on my property. Overdoses are rising in my neighborhood.
What if I could get them on something like St. John's Wort or maybe even some hallucinogens?
The long game of all this work is to build a community. Community is the ultimate drug. Community around a spirituality or a common cause or both. (Building a community is what we had before the city tore it down.)
There are two ideas I'm mulling over:
We all need something bigger than ourselves to pull us out of our ruts.
That's where my mind is today. I just thought I'd share it with you.
The optimist in me see this as a very exciting journey. There is so little research done in the homeless community. Yet we've always had this community with us. They hover on the outer edges of society. They use our garbage. They watch what we're doing. But they can't find a way in because they see the world through a different lens. And they rightfully feel like they are outcasts. We've always treated them as "less than." So, they have no interest in joining us.
I'd so love it if our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work included thinking about our homeless neighbors. DEI is not about assimilation. That's not one of the letters. It's about acceptance and finding a place for everyone.
Homeless people ask for so little. But we don't give them any room to live their lives.
I believe there could be a day when "live and let live" becomes the American way of life.
15 Broad St.Akron, Oh 44305