A blog post about homelessness. Yup that’s right. So you might want to skip this post.
I use to go to a church that had a purge Sunday. They intentionally tried to get people to leave the church (In a loving way – sort of) to make room for those that really needed the seats more than the people that were there simply to keep the seat warm. I guess this is my purge Sunday. Let’s see how many leave or post shares I get by next week.
I actually considered becoming homeless at 38 years of age. I had pretty much hit rock bottom from a career perspective and was working 12 hour days in a factory not getting ahead in life. The year was 2012 and I was so desperate for a change that I was considering getting my AZ truck licence. The problem was that it was impossible for me to save the tuition money because of the cost of living. But the factory had showers and in 2011 when I did my first bike ride I had lived in a tent for pretty much 14 weeks. So I figured that this was what I needed to do make an AZ license happen. Live in a tent in the woods and use the showers at work. In the end the tuition money was found and I did not need to become homeless. But it came close. (**AZ license is also known as a CDL)
After I did get my AZ license I ended up working for Voortman Cookies and I always had packages of cookies within reach to hand to the panhandlers at intersections. I handed out a few hundred packages over the 6½ years that I drove a truck.
That is largely my experiences regarding the homeless. I generally do not give money to panhandlers.
This post is not about judgement of people or country. My comments are simply observations. Everyone is innocent…….until tomorrow.
Obviously before this bike ride I have seen homelessness. Most people have seen homelessness. But do you know what it feels like to be homeless? I am fortunate like probably anyone that has the ability to read this post to respond that they have no idea what it feels like.
I think when homelessness actually shocked me was when I got into Victoria on Vancouver Island during this ride. A local cyclist Nicolas gave me the city tour that included Beacon Hill Park. Beacon Hill Park is pretty beautiful park but it was also full of tents.
Beacon Hill Park Victoria
My online research suggested over 100 people were living in tents in that park. The part that struck me was how the tent were spread out among beautiful landscapes and how the regular users of the park used the park side by side the homeless and how the city workers did their jobs and children playing on the playground in close proximity to homeless people’s tents. It was just such a shock to see all this as if this was normal and regular life. I should mention weeks earlier I had biked through the homeless neighborhoods in Vancouver.
And then getting into the US things sort of changed. It was near impossible to find places to stealth camp with “No camping” signs everywhere. In both Washington and Oregon, I was pretty quickly visited by the police because of where I was camped. On December 4th I was camped in the middle of no where between Worswick and Fortuna; over 20 km’s south of the city of Eureka California and you can imagine my surprise when homeless people were walking by my tent at 10pm.
My first big main US city was San Francisco and then Los Angeles. In San Francisco I found myself in a neighbourhood where there was so many homeless people I had to leave. Not for fear or anything like that but it was simply too difficult to navigate my bike around. In American cities you can find tents anywhere and everywhere.
I find myself in many conversations with locals about the homeless situation. Earlier last week I ran into someone on the highway who runs some kind of outreach for homeless people. Pedalling down the road and reflecting on our conversation an idea did popped into my mind about a way that could not necessarily help people get off the streets by any means but address a pretty important aspect of life.
You see being on a bike since November 12th of last year and living in a tent as long as I have and now dealing with all of these campground closures thank to Covid-19 has had me experience an unusual experience most people would never want to experience.
Until the other day I just pedalled 925 km’s over 13 days without a shower in California. For some people (adventures) that is no big deal. For most people that is impossible. For some people they go 6 months or years between showers. You might want to reread that last sentence – for some people they 6 months or years between showers.
There is a way that might help some homeless people and give an avenue for the blessed and fortunate to help.
Portable showers. Someone smart enough to design a portable shower that can sit on a trailer and be towed behind an SUV/pick up truck. Two sections of course – change room and shower. Partner with a local church to use their parking lot and water. The trick of course is water supply/pressure and a hot water tank that can handle the job. I am not a home builder or RV designer so I am not going to pretend to have the solution to those challenges but it can’t be rocket science with all our high efficiency and modern technology. The other thing is to have the church do a clothing drive (weeks earlier) so clean clothes can be put on after the shower.
Obviously there is more to my idea than a simple paragraph but most people are smart enough to fill in the blanks. The one other thing about this idea is very likely that you can likely get the whole project finances through a platform like GoFundMe. But can you image a person feeling human again?
I challenge people to do physical labour outside in the sun everyday for 13 days and not shower. It won’t be a fraction of the experience that homeless people go through because you still get to sleep in a warm bed. And don’t forget the street and highway noise pollution that the homeless are subjected to all night long. Trust me from experience – this sucks.
My solution for the homeless situation with a whole lot of satire injected into it
For every city that experiences homelessness put the 15 wealthiest citizens of that city in a hotel room and tell them they may not leave until the homeless situation is solved. I bet they have the problem solved by dinner. No more homeless in that city.
But I digress. I feel conservatively that I have pedalled past more than 1 million homes worth over 1 million dollars in the US a lone. 1 million times 1 million equals a TRILLION DOLLARS. I did some Google searches about what the combined wealth of the United States is. My limited research suggests between $88.37 and $96.2 TRILLION DOLLARS.
How is it even possible for a country to be worth THAT and have any homeless people? And people LOVE to say God Bless America???
Some other thoughts
Does it offend you that if you are not part of the solution that you are a part of the problem?
Putting $3 or $50 in the church collection plate doesn’t count as helping the homeless. Paying others to do your share of the dirty work is not the same as helping.
Paying your taxes does not absolve you of your responsibilities of working with the homeless.
I believe I read somewhere that it is believed that less than 1% of people in the world are actually working for the betterment of the planet.
If you think I am wrong, get on your own bike and pedal 16,000 km’s over 365 days and tell me that I am wrong.
So where does that leave me?
John 12 vs 8 – “You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.” This post is not me being “enlightened” or the belief in a utopian world where all things are equal. This is a world wide issue. But that is no excuse for inaction. This ride has given me certain perspectives and experiences that I am able to pass on.
My fundamental belief is that your desires, goals, dreams passions are all connected to making the world a better place. So just go do something.
In 2014 I went to Burkina Faso Africa on a missions trip. I had never been on a mission trip before. In our first week there we refurbished an old school bus that was meant to collect kids from deep in the bush to bring them to school to be educated and get 3 meals a day. The second week was helping to rebuild a pharmacy roof that provided essential health care to surrounding villages.
Burkina Faso Africa
My desires and passions have always been for nature and the planet. But I wondered if there was a hidden calling that was more humanitarian in nature. The trip confirmed my true desires and passions were for nature and the planet. But technically everything is connected.
The guy running the pharmacy roof repair project was a Canadian tradesman that went to Burkina Faso to start a trades school for young people. The message that he left me with was “whatever it is you are meant to do. Just do it. Just do something.”
So my desires and passions are in making the planet cleaner and greener and that is how I plan to spend the rest of my life during and after this ride. I have done a few posts about this subject during the ride and will continue to do more posts about a cleaner and greener planet.
Many many people have claimed to be inspired by my ride. I even did a post about that very topic that can be found HERE. Inspiration only works if you actually act on it? What’s your plan?
And if by some small chance you didn’t realize that the world has problems? Consider yourself informed and with no longer an excuse. Remember this is not a blog post about judgement. No one is guilty or innocent ….until tomorrow.
Are you inspired to do something or unfollow me?