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Everyday at the Drop-In I witness people who have been forced to give up their independence. The other day on my way to a meeting downtown, I stopped at a red light on 4th avenue parallel to the Drop-In. In a recent interview, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel stated, "We need to have a better plan for the homeless than tents." Underlying his comment, and all the planning underway for the coming winter 'homeless crisis' is the premise that homelessness is acceptable. We are very pleased to announce that the Computer Learning Centre is now open on Sunday mornings. He has helped his clients grow their wealth to achieve financial security and reach their personal and financial goals and dreams without the risk, worry or volatility of stocks, real estate, and other investments. People who, through circumstance or happenstance, have lost the independence they cherished before donning the label of 'homeless'.
Waiting for the light to change, I looked to my right and saw the busy patio of a downtown restaurant.
It is a perjorative term, and one often bandied about in conjunction with issues of homelessness and affordable housing. Earlier this year he was given the opportunity to return home to spend time with his family.
But of course there is always something new!I was taking a break this morning, standing outside and chatting with one of my students. For them, defeat, apathy, depression compete with the lack of self-worth driving them further and further from indenpendence as they become reliant upon the one place they never dreamt they'd ever be, a homeless shelter.Like my mother, they once cherished the ability to do what they wanted when they wanted.


Surrounded by city skyscrapers and riotous hanging baskets filled with colourful flowers suspended from poles lining the edges of the deck, people were laughing, chatting, sharing a drink and a meal, sharing their lives. Take for example the case of the temporary shelter set up in the former Brick Building on 16th Avenue N.W.
It was a celebration of Thanksgiving.Grandpa Cliff as he was known on the streets was an gentleman who always had a kind word for you. Every day, we witness people who have lost their way find themselves, and we witness individuals struggling to find the way without really knowing where they want to go, except out of here. Community members were pretty unanimous in their support of the need for the shelter but split in their opinions about its location. These days if you do not know how to operate a computer you are going to find the job market a very frustrating place.In fact we were talking about jobs. Out of this place they temporarily call home but which, at the end of the day, they never want to come back to.
Heated discussions, in which the 'against' camp's concerns were lumped into the NIMBY basket resulted in shame, guilt, and anger being dumped on the heads of the nay-sayers. Peter was explaining that the construction business was a young mans game, and at 55 he was not happy working outside in the middle of the winter. Tucked away at the side of the building, out of sight of the patio, a young man lay sprawled on the grass. In the end, the shelter was opened, the supporters walked away feeling good about themselves, while those whose concerns had been voiced and shouted down, walked away feeling unheard. He told me that he had applied for a number of jobs in the warehousing industry, and that he had a good deal of experience in the a€?shipping and receivinga€™ world, but because of his age no one was interested in employing him.At that moment a man in a pickup truck pulled up beside us and wound his window down.


It lifted into the air as if in slow motion, as if an invisible puppeteer from on high was pulling a string.
It hung suspended above his head, the hand forming an arch, its fingers hanging lifelessly towards the ground. I wondered if he was waiting for a basket of flowers to be suspended from his hand so that he could be part of the patio scene.
What if we were to look at people who oppose a shelter or a treatment centre or any other social service in their community not as NIMBYs, but rather as caring citizens willing to speak their different points of views in an effort to be heard.
And then, his hand followed his arm in one quick crumbling motion back to the ground beside his inert body. Whose concern for their community gave them the courage to stand up as they struggled to understand what the shelter meant to their community, to their lives?
What if they turned up to the meetings to learn, but got shouted down and ended up shutting down their minds to the possibilities of change. What if we'd listened without the label of NIMBY at the forefront of our minds and instead walked in with open minds asking questions to understand not to judge; differing points of view, different ideas, differnt perspectives.



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