Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change

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Changing the Conversation

Courage in Times of Chaos

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I was asked recently to give a talk to a group of homeless service providers and advocates on “Courage in Times of Uncertainty.” In preparing, I realized there was no way I could address that subject. I believe fundamentally that we are not in times of uncertainty, but times of chaos. Each day in America, the headlines overwhelm us. Horrific school shootings. Escalating threats of nuclear war. Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. People dying daily from opiate overdoses. Profound disrespect for women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people. Willful ignorance about climate change. Rampant homelessness and a public that has become used to it.

Chaos.

In the face of such chaos, our national leaders have abdicated their responsibility to guide and protect the nation and its people. In some cases, they are guilty of neglect. In just as many, they are guilty of cheerleading race hatred and dissension. In other words, it is not just that they refuse to fix the problem; they are the problem.

How should we respond?

It is all too easy to feel paralyzed—to wait, to bide our time—but we do not have that luxury. It is critical not to be discouraged. There is too much work to do.

Homeless Memorials: Remembering & Re-dedicating

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For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice on December 21 marks the longest night of the year. It has been marked by a rich history of gathering and revelry. Communities traditionally came together to keep a spark of hope alive for a new and brighter tomorrow--literally and metaphorically.

Today, in cities across the country, the Winter Solstice marks a different sort of gathering--one of remembrance, respect, solidarity, and responsibility. We remember those individuals, children, mothers, daughters, sons, and fathers we lost to homelessness and poverty--those we failed to help.

Ending Houselessness is not Ending Homelessness

End Homelessness

I recently came across a well-researched online article on homelessness in the United States, and the potential for us to end this problem – if we just had a little more political will to fully fund the housing subsidies needed to sweep the streets clean of the chronically homeless population.

While I am generally pleased to see any journalistic attention paid to this daunting and commonly ignored social blight, I worry about the incompleteness of the conversation.

First, who are we talking about?

Elders in Recovery: Locked in Poverty and Out of a Home

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With over 50 years of mental health recovery, I was flourishing. In my mid-fifties, I had my first full time job in years. I was working using knowledge and experiences from academic training and my personal recovery. I felt secure in my ability to overcome life challenges. I was proud of the effort I invested in my recovery and my work with a group of knowledgeable and passionate folks helping others overcome the challenges of homelessness, mental illness, trauma, and substance abuse.