Tag Archives: WordPress

Getting the Message Out and Finding Answers to Homelessness

Found this blog with an interesting plan about how to get the message out about living on the streets:


I’ve been reading these many different blogs while doing research these past few months and have realised there are many things that my ‘hometown’ can do to recognise the root problems of homelessness in our community and create pathways for change.

One of the great things that other communities are doing to raise awareness is inviting citizens to sleep rough for one night, just to give them a taste of what homelessness is like. I think this helps to give people empathy for those with out a bed, four walls and privacy. Some groups take this a step forward and have gotten donations when participants get sponsored. A certain amount each night is pledged and given to charity. Great idea. When the community gets involved to bring awareness to the problems that homeless people face, it show that it cares.

In some communities, they are taking the sleeping rough for a good cause theme to greater heights. Local celebrities get involved and have gone a bit scruffy to wander the streets, just to spring their identity on those who would treat them unkindly. Ha. Gives the mean people something to think about.

One more thing that has come to my attention is the churches that are housing the homeless. The gym, which would go otherwise unused, is being opened to homeless people at night to help them get out of the cold. It would help so many people if churches and organizations would become involved by offering empty buildings, open land and vacant parking lots to those who are homeless. Just having a warm place to rest, and perhaps a sandwich, would save so many people from making decisions that could lead them down the wrong path.

The push to recognize small home communities as an option for people who can not afford ‘traditional housing’ would also help the homeless and those in poverty. Okay, I know. Building low-income apartments should solve the housing problem, but all too often the need for units out paces the supply. A small home community would only require a vacant piece of land (with basic water, sewage and electricity) and those who are able would build their own houses or have them built at a minimal cost. Small houses that they can afford. And it would cost the government so much less.

In places where small homes are not an option, like cities, there could be a system in place where people in the shelters can get help finding and establishing a shared housing situation. Properties that need fixing up could be rented to 3 or 4 people at a low rate in exchange for unskilled labor to do some of the work. Charities could donate housewares and furnishings, and the government would take some of the fear out of renting with relative strangers (who may not pay their rent) by guaranteeing that the rent will be covered if any short fall should arise. Of course, the delinquent renter would have to vacate (and reenter the shelter) and a new tenant (from the shelter) would be moved in to replace them. I know, this idea takes a lot of management, but it will save money in the long run and get people out of shelters in a much more orderly and secure way.

Just a few ideas. I’m sure there are many more.

From Riches to Rags

Despite what people believe, not everyone who is homeless has come from poverty. I know of people who were singers who have traveled the world entertaining before they fell on hard times, a contractor who once owned almost three dozen properties before the economy soured, and an investor with a failed $400,000 portfolio. A friend of mine even knew an actor that was on a television series in L.A. that returned to a homeless shelter every night after filming (he was in bankruptcy).

Here is the story of the son of two well-known actors and his experiences with homelessness.


Note: The story about the church in Erie, PA sounds great. I wonder how many of the churches in my town (and yours) would do something like that?

Speaking of Characters — Vic Jones

Q: How did you come up with the character Vic Jones in Brain Sections?

A: Vic was vaguely based on someone I knew at the homeless shelter, but I had to fill in a lot of details myself. I copied a lot of his speech patterns and what I thought his thinking processes were. Just the basics, the real person kept his ‘cards close to the vest’ and I didn’t get to know him well until after I wrote the book.

Q: Did you start out writing with a clear idea about what was going to happen in the story or did it just evolve?

A: I didn’t do an outline or anything like that. It was more a project to do as I sat up at night trying not to fall asleep when I was on the streets, so I was very loose about what the plot was going to be. Each time I’d write a scene, I had some idea about how it was to unfold and I would try to leave some tangle that needed solving in the next writing session. It gave me something to muse on during the day.

Q: In a few words, describe Vic Jones.

A: He is a responsible guy that gets no help, initially, in saving his friend from this quirky zombie experiment. Maybe it can be chalked up to pure stubbornness, but he then gets into all kinds of disguises and meets up with some strange characters in his quest to save his friend. He is a hero, because he never gives up trying and has a strong sense of what is fair and what is unfair.

Q: I think the parts of the book where he is interacting with his co-worker, Emily Walters, and his some-time girlfriend, Wanda Cummings, are the most hilarious. The scenes where he is oiling Miss Emily’s office chair and asking Wanda about how to pick up guys when he is dressed in drag are incredibly funny.

A: Yeah. I wanted to make some of the scenes light to balance out some of the seriousness of the message of the novel. Emily and Wanda are good examples of females that are repressing some of their real selves, and Vic is kind of blindsided by what these women reveal about themselves to him. He’s kind of old-fashioned, so his reactions to certain situations were amusing.

Q: Where did the idea for Vic’s friend, Teddy, come from?

A: Vic was such a serious guy that he needed a comical side kick. Teddy was great for me, because, when a scene would start to slow down, I’d just have Teddy show up and cause some kind of ruckus.

Q: Some writers talk about character transitions and how their protagonist evolves over the course of the story. Did Vic Jones change from what he was like as the story progressed?

A: I think Vic was solid to begin with, so I didn’t want to change that. But, along the way, Vic developed a more flexible attitude about life’s possibilities and became more accepting of the things that can’t be controlled. I think he matured a bit.

Q: Why did you write Brain Sections?

A: I wanted to show the interactions between homeless people, the support and craziness, and between the homeless and those who have never been homeless. To see out of the eyes of someone who never quite fit in and lost all he had, looking at those who in some ways have lost themselves in order to keep their positions in life. And I also wanted to show life in the homeless shelter and on the streets in a realistic way, from the view point of the homeless.

Q: Is there a sequel in the works?

A: I’ve done an outline about how Vic gets to put some of his ideas about improving the shelter into action. Of course, there will be opposition and conflict to his ideas, but that’s what makes fiction interesting.

Is There a Shut Down of This Blog in the Works?

Well, it was bound to happen. Got a notice from WordPress that there has been a complaint about this blogs violation of one of the terms of service agreements. They will get back to me about what it is I am (supposedly) in violation of, until then, expect a shut down and look for me on Blogger, if it happens. Too bad, I love WordPress. Near as I can figure, the violation might be about advertising to sell my book (the Amazon Affiliate book — one book — that I recommend can’t be it, can it? I thought WordPress was okay with those…) or it could be this post, that had just come out on the day of the notice:

From the Happy Hobo series:

Working to get off the streets. This has to be a constant in your life, or your future will be bleak. Get a P.O. Box and send in applications for low-cost housing and assistance. Can’t get a P.O. Box without a physical address? Oh, those bureaucrats do try to keep people down, don’t they? If you keep being persistent, you will get a mailing address. A few tips: Paying for the box over the internet at their USPS website (credit card required), or wandering in to an out of the way post office and being able to rent the box on the spot. Use your old address on your ID with a straight face. Not that I’m telling you to circumvent the law, but the rules should not inadvertently punish the innocent.

In my view, I was just pointing out a huge loophole in the system (you must provide a physical address to get a P.O. box) that is supposed to halt international terrorism, but ends up punishing the homeless. It would be nice if the agencies that are dealing with the homeless could provide a letter stating that their client needs an address  to get mail and that letter could be used at the post office as verification to get a P.O. box to receive their mail (A discount on the annual P.O. box fees — $120 a year in some areas — would be nice too, but the postal service is in the red, so forget about that.), and then inadvertently punishing the down-and-out would not be the issue here.

Another reason for the red-flagging could be a certain “sore-loserman” has sniffed around to find an excuse to silence this blog. In that case, tough nuggets, baby. I stand by my post.

Oh, and by the way, have a Happy Thanksgiving. Be truly grateful for all God’s gifts. I am.

Some New Projects in the Works

BuddyPress default theme

Two new things that I’ll be working on in the near future is hooking up a BuddyPress social network to this blog (Then you guys can share ideas together and maybe go out for a latte at Starbuck’s.) and start a companion blog about ePublishing. I’ve got tons of nifty URLs to help those of you who are aspiring writers.
In case you are curious about who else is hooked up to Brain Sections and can’t wait for the BuddyPress thing to get started, I’ve put a community section in the bottom banner. Just click on the square and all kinds of good info comes up.