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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Servicing DC's homeless population

    This Saturday, all the groups working on or interested in working on
    spring actions surrounding the 3rd year marking date of the war in Iraq
    will be meeting 1:30 - 3:30 PM at the Mount Pleasant Public Library at
    Lamont and 16th Street NW (accessible by Columbia Heights Metro, 4 blocks,
    also easily accessible from the 42 bus, the S2 or the S4 buses, as well as
    the H2, H4, and H8 buses).

    One event that groups have been working on is a March 18 scenario that
    involves a march, a teach-in, and a community service component. I bring
    this up because DAWN's weekly action working group is actively taking up
    the community service action, but we want to invite all groups to
    participate.

    Let me explain.

    On March 18, the plan was to service the homeless with food. However, as
    we talked about it, we realized that it would be wrong simply to show up
    and then leave as though we had done some great deed. What DC's homeless
    population needs is respect and interaction with others in the community,
    as well as all the material needs and resources that we are able to help
    with (whether that be food, or warm clothing, or know-your-rights
    trainings, or what have you).

    So, we decided we needed to show up in the weeks leading up to March 18 as
    well as the weeks following are action, and hopefully make this a
    sustainable action.

    To be sustainable, we need help. We in DAWN can no doubt keep this up for
    the next 7 to 8 weeks on our own, but we likely wouldn't be able to
    sustain such an action longer, and so we invite people who want to make
    the connections between the war abroad and the war at home to join us and
    help us make this happen.

    We have access to food, to pots and pans, and a kitchen - and most of the
    time, even a vehicle to transport. Over time (though, not this weekend),
    we'll need help with cooking. We'll need people to show up.

    This Saturday, following our meeting, a group of us will be preparing to
    go to the Canadian Embassy at 501 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Outside this
    embassy, very large numbers of homeless live in a plaza and in the alley
    ways nearby. We plan on going at 5:30 PM (and, if the homeless who live
    there tell us that that's an ideal time for them), we will continue this
    every Saturday through March 18 and beyond. We as a group have committed
    through April.

    We believe that this would be a great opportunity for people simply to
    show up and talk and get to know DC's homeless population, as we get to
    know this particular group (assuming they want to get to know us). It
    will also be a chance to eat, as there's liable to be extra food. For
    this action in March to work, we have to connect these tragedies abroad
    back to the local community. This is one way to do this. DC officially
    has over 8,000 homeless people. Many estimate the number to be double
    that. They live often right outside the doors of places of power, whether
    it be the White House, the World Bank, or outside of places like the
    Canadian Embassy (there's no symbolism of choosing the embassy; it's just
    we know so many live there). Money that could be used for social services
    go instead to fund baseball stadiums and wars. The price of rent drives
    people to the streets, and even though many homeless people work, they
    still can't make it. What's even more important is the serious lack of
    respect that people living as homeless receive in society and the cruel
    and demeaning stereotypes that they receive. This perpetuates itself over
    and over again. Homelessness isn't simply a social problem of material
    need, it's a problem of societal mindset. What I'm getting at is
    paternalism, and we often take a paternalistic and patronizing attitude
    toward the homeless, just as we do in places like Iraq. That attitude
    connects and explains many of the actions we take.

    Anyhow, we'd love for people to start joining us, starting this Saturday
    after our important meeting.

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