sustainable communities - no want, no war, nobosses

Tom Musselwhite (
Sun, 12 Dec 1999 17:50:13 -0800

It is difficult for me to figure out where to even start the conversation.
There are so many "mindsets"; the different perspectives people have, the
personal prejudice we all have that cause us to see the world the way we do
and understand the possibilities and opportunities that could be available.

Certainly, for me, human rights seem to be a significant part of the
equation.  It is
hard to visualize a peaceful world when so many get by on so little,
especially when a few of the much more prosperous are so obviously
benefiting from the hardships of others.  Of course landlords don't
particularly like that argument, and I suspect that there are as many
landlords that are democrats these days as there are republicans.  When
power and control are used to maintain advantage and affluence at the
expense of the lives, health and wellbeing of the controlled . . . that
don't spell peace.

Let me share a little of what's going on here.

Yesterday I got an "eviction" notice.  A "nice" letter from my "yuppie,
non-profit" landlord explaining that they need more space for their own
operations and we (Homeless Action Coalition, Project Recover, et al) need
to find new digs.  I probably shouldn't be surprised, their staff has
completely rolled over through the past year or so, and I don't much like
their new direction.  The tension has been growing for some time.  They just
made the last payment on their house this month, and they don't particularly
need our rent anymore to help out there.  Mostly children of affluent
parents, most driving new cars, I suspect they are "trying to help me" out
of my somewhat spartan lifestyle by "rocking my boat".  Oh well, that type
of "new age" affluence, "enlightened self interest", neo-liberal theme for a
show where they perceive themselves as "fighting" for "social justice"
epitomizes most of the "problem" for me.  I'm not feeling terribly
threatened (yet) and have great faith that it will all work out for the

Meanwhile, today I get a phone call from a woman who has been camped
(probably with her partner/spouse) in a local park for the past few weeks.
Their tent was discovered by the police who informed them that camping in
the park is illegal and gave them 24 hours to move.  She ask where she could
put up a tent legally.

I had to tell her there is no place.  Actually (as I explained to her) if
she could find a person in the city limits who would allow them to camp in
their backyard that is now legal.  We won that "great victory" two years
ago.  What we haven't been able to do is develop a mechanism that connects
the people with the need with the people who can help.

Point is, these types of disparities don't seem to be moving us toward a
less destructive, more sustainable, type of community (at any level).  Those
who already have the most can't get past the notion that they need even
more.  Enough on this for now.

Two other issues that relate directly to sustainability (and are reflected
in life-style and social/economic class) are housing and transportation.
Here I suppose I'll say that the whole picture changed radically for me back
in 1992/93.  Previously it was more "academic".  It got "real" when a
disability knocked me out of my profession and my workers comp claim was
denied (on the basis of a pre-existing condition).  Another oh well here.
My life has changed remarkably over the past 7 years.  I no longer own a
motor vehicle and (at least for a few more days) live in a 12 foot travel
trailer parked in the landlord/non-profit's backyard.  In 1990 I was earning
$3000/mo and having a hard time getting along.  Now I get $300/mo as a
stipend from Project Recover/HAC and my "quality of life" has improved
incredibly.  I get to work about 20 hours a day in service to those with the
greatest needs, both directly and advocating/educating for the changes we
need, in law and attitude, to make life at least possible (for me too!) and
for the many others who are effectively criminalized on the basis of their
economic status.

Sustainability (sigh) maybe it's an impossible quest.  Obviously not
everybody wants what I got, and I don't want what many others seem to value
so much.  I like being able to work mostly out of my home, as humble as it
may be, I like not commuting 20 miles back and forth every day to "earn a
living".  Yes I suppose there is a cost, I can't jump in the car and drive
over to the coast on the spur of the moment for a change of scenery, so I've
had to learn to love the scenery I have.  I think I probably sleep better
knowing that I'm not pouring hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.  Seems more
sustainable to me.

Over the past 10 years I have written several grant proposals on the
development of ecologically and economically sustainable communities (that
could also help meet a number of unmet social needs).  We haven't received
much funding, several grants in the $5000. range over the past 6 years or so
has kept us going but not enough to actually put much on the ground.

If you send me your mailing address I'll put you on the mailing list for our
"street paper" 'oIkos.
I like to believe that I use it as a forum for homelessness/hunger/social
issues and how they relate to sustainability.  Maybe I'll get better at
getting an online version happening before too much longer.

Tom M.

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Boland <>
To: Tom Musselwhite <>
Sent: Sunday, December 12, 1999 1:09 PM
Subject: Re: Greenstar - sustainable communities - no want, no war, nobosses

> Tom, thanks for your post and call for sustainable communities, detaching
> from the greed-war economy.  Let's brainstorm online the outline of the
> future we want.
> I share your concern to advance sustainable lifestlyes.  I've taught on
> subject, have never owned a car, and have lived about 25 of 30 adult years
> near or well below USA poverty level.
> Let's reenvision and remanifest sustainable communities.
> For a world without want and war. -- "Harmonica Tom" of North East Rainbow
> Family
> *******************************************************
> 7,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
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