26 July, 2010

garden hands

hello friends. 
i hope you enjoyed your lovely weekend.
jonathan and i did. 
[and we still are. we are with his family in 
newport coast all week. bliss.]

garden hands 
is going to be a monthly feature
used to introduce not-for-profits, organizations,
individuals, and businesses who use their 
expertise, product, and vision to change lives 
through the arts.

i have always been in love with creativity & art
and have increasingly grown in love with 
the disenfranchised over the last few years, 
specifically orphans & the homeless. 

this is one reason why i love los angeles.
i get both of my loves. in one day if i want. 
within a few blocks.  

and i was re-inspired (and reminded) 
this past saturday night
when watching 'the soloist'.

if you haven't seen it, 'the soloist' is 
a true story about nathaniel ayers, 
a man who 
has a nervous breakdown while at juliard. 
he eventually ends up living on 
the streets of los angeles.
steve lopez, a writer for the los angeles times,
is intrigued by nathaniel's story and talent, 
and writes a column about his 
friendship and experience with nathaniel.

one of my favorite lines written by steve lopez summarizes
my heart and dynamics i have learned in loving the poor.

"I now know, after several months of trying to 
coax him toward a safer and more productive life, 
that Nathaniel won't be saved any time soon." 

i, too, have discovered the most important quality with 
helping the homeless, is simply befriending them.

here is a photo of nathaniel ayers

inspired by my recent movie viewing,
today's garden hands features

the lamp community 

(the not-for-profit 
nathaniel ayers is a part of in los angeles)
 values customer choice
over anything else.
they assist individuals with a severe mental 
illness off the streets and into a home. 
this new approach to helping the homeless is called 'housing first' 
and focuses on housing being the absolute first requirement
in ending homelessness. 
once an individual can obtain permanent housing,
mental, emotional & spiritual health can 
then follow. 
without a permanent location to sleep & eat
it often becomes too overwhelming to face
addiction problems or psychological issues.

in my experience chronic homelessness 
(longer or repeated episodes of homelessness; a cycle of homelessness)
 is chronic because of the lack of sufficient permanent housing.
when someone can feel safe in their own home, 
their guards can gradually come down
and they are able to face the more daunting task 
of mental, emotional & physical wholeness.
(please know that i am not saying all homeless are chronic or have severe issues. 
however, in most cases i have experienced 
with a chronically homeless individual it is due to at least 
one severe mental/physical/emotional issue.)

though the ideal is to assist every homeless individual into 
permanent housing, not all individuals want to
return to 'society'. and, living in your own apartment
can often feel unfamiliar &/or overwhelming
 to someone who has lived on the street for a longer period of time.
this is why the lamp community values customer choice over anything else.
someone cannot be forced into a situation without their desire.
which is what makes solving 
homelessness that much more complex.

but for individuals who desire to transition off the streets,
lamp community, has integrated art into their method.
they built an art studio where homeless men and women
can create art. and, through the creating 
and selling of their art, 
can make a living. 
check out lamp community 
& all the amazingness they are doing, here.

to understand and at least get a glimpse of the issues
of homelessness 
see 'the soloist' and
read the full article by steve lopez 
that inspired the movie,
click here

or, even better, begin to establish friendship with someone
who is living on the streets. 
buy someone lunch instead of handing 
them a single dollar bill.
it is amazing the stories you will hear. 
and even more sobering
when you realize they experience 
emotion and beauty in similar
ways as you.
(of course do it with someone if you feel uncomfortable)

my wonderful friends, 
i hope you enjoy your lovely monday.
be inspired. love. create. and live beautifully today.


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