[Hpn] Letter to the World Bank

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Fri, 4 Feb 2005 20:33:33 -0500

Tent City  bigtentcity@yahoo.co.uk wrote:
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2005
From: Tent City

Subject: Letter to the World Bank

To: Michael Woolcock

Dear Michael,

My name's Jack Tafari and you might remember that we shared a podium at last
October's CRISIS Innovations Fair on Homelessness and Social Exclusion in
London, that we met and chatted over glasses of wine at Crisis' Skylight
Café the night before the conference.

The little village named Dignity where I come from and we talked about is
poor at least in terms of monetary capital. We raise funding mostly by
writing grants, a skill our grant-writing committee is just learning, and by
passing the hat in various ways. We need funding to better serve our
community and build the green, sustainable urban village of Our Proposal.

Your presentation of the theory of social capital at the conference,
Michael, was strong and compelling, an eye-opener to one such as myself. I
see Dignity's formation now with different eyes and recognize our early
bonding among next doorway neighbours for what it was in the terminology of
the construct, also the networking across the wider community of our early
campaign to gain support to extricate ourselves from those doorways and win
sanction from the City. It really is in the power of who you know.

My presentation went less well, I'm afraid, as I hadn't slept that well the
night before. I'd spent the night on the streets of Brixton in S. W. London
shivering under a market tarp on some cardboard I'd found due to a
miscommunication with our hosts, something CRISIS UK rectified right away
upon learning of it. Sleep deprivation is common enough among us homeless
people who lack roofs over our beds. But be that as it may.

I'm glad we had the opportunity to meet at the Skylight, Michael, as it
establishes a link between our organizations and thought we might network a
little as per your theory. I'm wondering if the World Bank would consider
extending Dignity Village a capitalization loan of US $1,000,000 to purchase
the land on which to build the magnificent eco-village we envision and have
sought for so long. I should think you'd be proud to see your "social
capital" model in action.

You concluded your presentation by saying "The logic we believe we work to
is that we start with an idea, debate the idea, try to measure it, and turn
it into practice. A key part of moving forward is recognizing that it also
flows the other way. At the World Bank, our directors sometimes spend a week
in a village. After a week of going to collect water from a hole in the
ground, some come back with the equivalent of a religious conversion and
want to start basing policy on practice."

On behalf of our directors whose council I chair, I'd like to invite you and
your directors to spend a week in our village. We've had many distinguished
visitors and guests including a US Vice Presidential candidate and don't
worry, Michael, you won't have to collect your water from a hole in the
ground. Our village is built largely with the recycled scraps of what many
people throw away and although the asphalt we live on blisters in the summer
and floods in the winter, Dignity has the basic amenities.

We could talk about the possibility of such a loan with your visit, its
terms, work out repayment schedules and so forth. I wouldn't expect the
equivalent of a religious conversion among your directors after spending a
week in Dignity, but we could share great discussions about basing policy on

Warm regards,

Jack Tafari
Dignity Village, Inc
9325 NE Sunderland Road
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 281 1604
(503) 249 6927

I will always be on the side of those who have nothing and are not even
allowed to enjoy the nothing they have in peace.

--Frederico Garcia Lorca