Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Frazzled Nerves

Another morning when I woke up so ill I could barely walk. Everything is starting to crash around me. This shed, a small income, everything I have been clinging onto is crumbling away and it's terrifying me, at a time when I am already fighting bitter cold temperatures and an awful recession/depression.

The possibility of have nothing.. no gas in the truck, no phone, no internet, no food ... nothing to hang onto, is becoming a real and mortifying threat. I am a nervous wreck.
I had to rush from Alto to Ruidoso, to Capitan and Nogal before returning to Alto before 2 pm. Every step of the way I fretted wondering how to make enough money to get my home finished. This is enough to send anyone insane.
It was a beautiful day, but a cloud hung over me all day, and all I could do was sob heartbroken with worry and stress. Prayerfully tomorrow the sun will shine.

"...homelessness and poverty have been treated like a personal deficiency rather than a failure of our economic system."

January 31, 2012

Occupy 2.0: Less protest, more community service

Only four months into the era of Occupy Wall Street and already many have taken great delight in proclaiming this populist protest a thing of the past. The encampments are mostly gone and, outside of Oakland, the headlines have largely faded from the front pages, leading some to assume that the movement must be over.

It isn’t.

Many an Occupy group has morphed from being a tent city solidarity statement, that sometimes parades through city streets, into more traditional social service work. Instead of camping, they are committing acts of community improvement.

Last week, in fact, Occupy Providence traded their longtime encampment in Burnside Park for some additional social services in the city.

The activists, who have been occupying the park in the heart of Rhode Island’s capital city since Oct. 15, have been engaged in mediation with the city since November to negotiate a peaceful end to the encampment and recently the two sides agreed on a deal: Occupy Providence would leave the park if Providence set up a day shelter for the homeless population.

The activists “demanded its city government do more to help the needy, and won,” according to The Associated Press.

Burnside Park, after Occupy Providence had moved out on Monday. (Photo by Erika Niedowski)

While the mayor heralded the move as evidence that his administration had dealt with activists encampments more peacefully than others, Occupy Providence touted the deal as evidence that protest can bring change.

“For too long, homelessness and poverty have been treated like a personal deficiency rather than a failure of our economic system,” said the group in a press release. “Occupy Providence hopes this move can inspire the people of Rhode Island and the United States to realize that the voice of protest is a powerful one and that together we can achieve the changes we wish to see in our society.”

The city, itself in a financial pinch, couldn’t afford to fund the center, which is estimated to cost about $30,000 to operate, but it did manage to convince the more fiscally-stable Catholic diocese to run it.

Providence has struggled with how to handle its homeless residents – in 2009, it evicted a previous tent city known as Camp Runamuck and the case is still making its way through the state courts – and the local Occupiers have long made homelessness a central theme in their campaign. In December, Occupy Providence marched to the State House where they camped for the night and called for a “Homeless Bill of Rights.”

The day shelter opened on Friday, and the activists had left the park by Monday morning.

Other Occupy groups are also modeling the changes they wish to see in their society in other ways.

In New Orleans, homeless activists have occupied a vacant lot in the Seventh Ward, an impoverished neighborhood still struggling to clean up after Hurricane Katrina, with the hopes of turning it into a neighborhood garden.

“We’re doing something for the community,” Occupy NOLA activist Norman Oaks told me. “We’re going to grow food here. And when we have enough, we’re going to share it with the neighborhood.”

Activist Norman Oaks holds a flag in front of Occupy NOLA's camp in the Seventh Ward.

It’s an effort they call “Occupy the Lots” and they hope to repeat it in other struggling areas of the city.

It started in December when they were told to leave the park in front of City Hall they were camping in. At that time, many simply moved home but some without that luxury relocated to a lot in the Second Ward and started the work of prepping a garden. But the police trespassed them from there, too.

The next day, a retired school teacher reached out to them to see if they might want to engage in a work-for-rent agreement on her lot in the Seventh Ward. Occupiers have kept the woman’s identity secret because many in the neighborhood are less than pleased with the arrangement.

There are about 20 people camping on the lot and each is expected to help improve the land, which has become overgrown with weeds and debris. It’s also next to a broken water line that causes some flooding on the street side of the lot.

“If you stay here, you’ve got to participate in some sort of work,” said John Lauridsen, who spent a day and a half clearing debris from the clogged pipe. While there is still some puddling, he said the mailman can now get to the mailboxes that previously were stranded in the middle of a small pond.

A re-occupied house on Golden Gate Street in Detroit. Occupy Detroit fixed the broken window using recycled bottles and mud.

Occupy Detroit has taken on a similar, if less legal, sort of community improvement project.

Instead of occupying vacant lots with the permission of the landowner, they are occupying abandoned homes, with no permission, in a neighborhood filled with them.

“Our community service became our protest,” Detroit activist Eric Shelley told me recently as he took me on a tour of the neighborhood.

At least seven houses on Golden Gate Street have been re-occupied after their owners were foreclosed upon or just left altogether. They’ve creatively fixed broken windows by re-purposing old bottles and fixing them in place with mud and straw into a kind of recycled stained glass display. In others, they’ve moved in wood stoves and ran stove pipe out through windows for heat.

Some of the residents are young occupiers, who could probably find work and pay rent if they left Detroit. Others, have been living on the streets here for years, and say it’s enough each day to stay sober and warm let alone pick themselves up by the bootstraps and build a life somewhere else.

“We’re doing what our government is supposed to be doing: providing a social safety net,” Shelley said.

He said the police not only don’t bother them, but they appreciate their efforts. Abandoned homes often turn into brothels or crack houses, and Occupy activists are largely seen as a good presence in otherwise rough neighborhoods, he said.

Like Providence and New Orleans, Detroit began this project after it became clear they could no longer occupy the downtown park they had been camping in. And also like those two communities, Occupy Detroit chose to turn it into an opportunity rather than a reason to abandon the cause.

“We’re moving into the next phase of our occupation,” Lee Gaddies told me. “We’re reoccupying our neighborhoods.”

Other Occupy groups have also organized events and programs to help build a stronger community. Occupy Vermont held a holiday barter fair every Sunday in December, as an alternative to big box holiday shopping, Occupy Atlanta talked of starting a community bike share program and Occupy Tucson is one of the few groups still feeding the homeless on a regular basis.

University of Nebraska economics professor Hendrik van den Berg, center, talks about his class "Econ 99"

Occupy Lincoln (Nebraska) set up a series of community seminars in order to increase learning opportunities in the area. “We would like to make education equally available to everyone,” said Occupy activist and University of Nebraska professor Hendrik van den Berg. “How do you have a successful democracy without that?”

A tenured grad-level economics prof, van den Ber is teaching a primer on America’s economic system and beliefs and their role in class dynamics called, in a nod to the movement’s members, Econ 99.

“I’m going to explain why we have inequality and why we have the system we do,” he told me.

And at an Occupy Portland (Oregon) spokescouncil meeting in late December, the group spent the first hour hearing about endeavors that could possibly be incorporated into the movement. People brought up ideas ranging from a seed exchange to a health care cooperative.

This wasn’t simply the planning of another protest action, as I had grown accustomed to during the days of Occupy 1.0. This was Occupy 2.0, at which activists were brainstorming ways in which the movement could help usher in the kind of society that could serve as a counter model to the one they are protesting against.

— Bob Plain

There has to be someone related to Robert &Sylve Huckins must have some means to reach them, if it be Michael Huckins, Dr.Kenneth Ogilvie ( Diana Huckins? Dominic Huckins? Malcolm Huckins? ) or Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins and get them to return ALL of the money they stole from us so that I can buy a home and get our lives back. I am begging anyone in this family for help.

I don't believe I have EVER witnessed any none vio
lent crime that can be as devastating as stealing someone's home. I am walking in Dorothy McKeevers footsteps, day by day, month by month, year by year.

Liam Griffin, I sat in your law office with two witnesses as you gave me your promise, your guarantee, that our money would be returned before harm came to us.

Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins you were present the day I signed contract with your son. You walked out of the kitchen with Sylve Huckins and your son introduced me to you. He told you that I was the British horse trainer he had told you about, the one he was going to build the home and barn for. Why didn't you say something? There may be a rational and reasonable explanation but I have spent over 3 years, homeless, not understanding it. I understand it even less knowing that though I was a total stranger, both Dorothy McKeever and Sally Canning you KNEW, and you knew what your son had done to them and others.

Dr. Kenneth Ogilvie, I contacted you and simply asked f
or a reference, not knowing that Robert Huckins was your cousin. Robert Huckins had just stolen over $30,000 from the domestic violence shelter, HEAL, yet everyone was trying to hide it. There was a history of stealing large amounts of money. $65,000 PLUS from Nancy Canning. $89,000 PLUS from Dorothy McKeever, $45,000 from Francis McKinney. The list just goes on and on and on.
Because of Robert Huckins I ended up paying
$140,000 to be homeless.. sat in the cold, emotionally, physically and financially broke. In the middle of a recession, with no way to recover the stolen funds.

Today Robert Huckins has his own home...
He also has OUR home.....
He also has a lot of people's money...
And his freedom.

Women are not banks or loan institutions. Women should not be the source of a retirement fund for people who don't want to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Holding women hostage while playing with the judicial system, a horrendous game of cat and mouse extending YEARS, with the victims whose very homes, families and stability are in jeopardy is cruelty, as cruel as a physical beating. It is financial and emotional RAPE. Homelessness is not justice. It is a slow, painful death.
Please, I beg with everything I have within me, pl
ease convince Robert Huckins to stop this torture and return the building fund he stole from us so we too, can have a home.

Relevant pages:
10/06/pen-is-mightier-than-sword.html Honest hearts produce honest actions.~ Brigham Young