On Solving Homelessness

Yesterday (8 August) I spoke to a studio group looking at the population of the homeless to construct a project. Below is a list of links and references – aspects I touched upon in my talk.

Homefulness

I choose to list three ‘place-making’ initiatives. These are not programs (funding+Project+Goal-Delivery) – but are best viewed as long lasting sites for a special kind of people.

Oakland, California: A sweat equity, permanent co-housing, education, arts, micro-business and social change project for landless/houseless and formerly houseless families and individuals. (http://www.poormagazine.org/homefulness)

As an act of resistance to the hierarchal and unjust distribution of wealth and resources locally and globally, POOR Magazine is formerly calling the fundraising effort for HOMEFULNESS, an Equity Campaign, instead of a Capital Campaign, as through equity sharing, not tied to financial resources, we will be creating permanent and lasting solutions to houselessness for families in poverty who have been displaced, evicted, gentrified and destabilized out of their indigenous lands and communities.

Washington DC: I’m actually not sure that it is a word yet, but what a great idea! “Homefulness” instead of “homelessness.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeanmichel-giraud/homefulness-not-homelessness_b_1537688.html)

Twenty-one years into it, Friendship Place is leading with solutions that are simple and applied, and are developed by listening to our program participants.

Victoria B>C rtf-at-greenfields-greenhouse(Canada): Street life can reduce an individual to a reality of perceived meaninglessness and purposelessness. Beyond attending to his/her immediate needs, there are little or no positive goals and aspirations. Woodwynn farm life unyieldingly commands meaning and purpose. Every contribution, every day, from every individual matters to the operations of the farm community. And it quickly becomes obvious to the individual that they matter and are valued.  New participants are given the mantra, “How can I help?” Farm chores must be done. Laundry and dishes must be done. (https://www.woodwynnfarms.org/our-woodwynn-program/)

The Homeless Solved their Problem

I proposed the notion that by ‘occupying’ the cities of Australia the Homeless has shown us a ground up solution – the tent city!

He agreed at the February 7 meeting to consider a drop-in centre, safe spaces, and lockers for the homeless. A new by-law, which will extend the definition of “camping” and ban people from leaving items unattended in public places, was approved 5-4 and supported by all Team Doyle members. (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/protesters-abuse-neighbours-litter-street-outside-lord-mayors-house/news-story/eda13b1cc115180cd16d3f00426d0651)

On Tuesday afternoon, at least 40 tents, a thriving kitchen and library remained in place on the iconic pedestrianised street just a stone’s throw from the NSW Parliament. (http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/sydney-tent-city-leader-says-forcibly-breaking-up-camp-could-lead-to-homeless-people-to-be-attacked-raped/news-story/d7626ccd61dad9a45a4912946f498da0)

Human Waste

The Homeless are “Human Waste”. I amped this up yesterday by speaking of the “rich” who viscerally dislike the dirty, smelly and mis-shapen (ugly) in human kind. I cited Clive Hamilton (His book Affluenza) to raise the issue of there being one right, correct and ‘natural’ way to be in Australia: which to work, make money and become wealthy. Those that are not seen to ‘contribute to society’ and the phrase ‘dole bludgers’ has been part of public discourse (https://newmatilda.com/2016/11/20/how-malcolm-turnbull-keeps-the-dole-bludger-boogeyman-alive/).

It is important to heed this provocation – for the assumptions of ‘the right way’ equally define ‘transgressions’ such as not working, not paying taxes and doing their fair share. The nuances of this construct are carefully teased out by Bauman. “I first read Zygmunt Bauman at university”. (https://theguiridispatches.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/reading-list-wasted-lives-by-zygmunt-bauman/)

The production of ‘human waste’ – or more precisely, wasted lives, the ‘superfluous’ populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts – is an inevitable outcome of modernization. It is an unavoidable side-effect of economic progress and the quest for order which is characteristic of modernity. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46818.Wasted_Lives)

Book: Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts by Zygmunt Bauman

NOTE: For the Three of you who also did Nomadic Affordances – how is this studio different from that one? ( http://prezi.com/ap13iypar5v_/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share)

Portugal Policy on Drugs

After-care and social re-integration of drug users in Portugal is organised through three major programmes targeting different regions in Portugal (Programa Vida Emprego, Programa Quadro Reinserir and the PIDDAC incentives for re-integration). All three programmes finance different initiatives and projects supporting drug users through training opportunities, employment support, and/or housing. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Portugal)

 

Outdoor Piece by Tehching Hsieh

In 1981, Taiwanese endurance artist Tehching Hsieh ventured out into the streets of New York City and proceeded to live outdoors for a full year, ending the piece (aptly titled Outdoor Piece) in 1982. In this yearlong derive of sorts, Hsieh essentially takes on the identity of a homeless individual—although “houseless” would be a more apt description of his type of purposeful displacement—calling into question tensions between public and private spaces and their impact on our everyday lives, as well as the way in which public spaces are navigated on a daily basis. (https://dca.ue.ucsc.edu/dca/winners/2016/796).

Way Forward?

Its possible the underlying paternalism of help – such as charity focussed upon less privileged is a valid tithe for the well meaning. Doing something for the homeless is also a a way to realize meaning for many. Its possibly a very useful impulse that keeps charities doing soup kitchens. However its possible something is changing – the very nature and form of homelessness is transforming before our eyes. I offer up Hsieh as a provocation to still the mind of the sanctimonious designer – your “lets clean if up” and “solve this once and for all” efforts are not needed.

Its better to imagine homelessness as a necessary condition of modern society. We need it. We need to care for it. It is a public performance of our humanity. It is a test put there to force us to confront our humanity.

The homeless are victims of violence. Often inflicting pain on the unfortunate is a sport. This needs attention!

What would constitute a disruption – such as a new way of thinking about this issue?

Would handing over the solution seeking to the population of homeless – such as the contemporary assertiveness of the homeless and their occupation of the cities of Australia – be pointing a way to the solution?

What would an app for the homeless look like? This of course needed to be said.

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Lets do Design Projects in the space of Open Government

I had a look at Open Goverment today – nudged by a twitter post. Great Video. This is their site:  http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/mission-and-strategy

OGP’s vision is that more governments become sustainably more transparent, more accountable, and more responsive to their own citizens, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of governance, as well as the quality of services that citizens receive. This will require a shift in norms and culture to ensure genuine dialogue and collaboration between governments and civil society.

OGP aspires to support both government and civil society reformers by elevating open government to the highest levels of political discourse, providing ‘cover’ for difficult reforms, and creating a supportive community of like-minded reformers from countries around the world.

And I of course naively dream of redesigning Government. Gov2.0 is potentially different things for different people. What if we codesigned Govt? This is not as odd as it sounds in the first instance. Designers and govt? Is this a form of design? Or sceptics from another side – why would you open govt up for a design exploration? But that is all not as odd as I was to discover. Here is how “open source” proposes the future of Open Govt:

As new technologies become available, citizens’ ability to participate in their governments’ proceedings will continue to improve.  Although we cannot know the future, we can expect the definition of “open government” to evolve as our capabilities and expectation for participation and collaboration increase. Thus, it is important to recognize that “open government” is not so much a fixed term as it is an ideal to inspire and strive for–one that has and will continue to change with the times.

http://opensource.com/resources/open-government

The you have the world Top 10 Govt 2.0 Initiatives

The Gov 2.0 movement continues to gain momentum around the world with a number of inspiring people, projects & ideas rising to prominence over the last year or so. Sometimes the most important innovations emerge from the periphery where creative citizens take a “do it first, ask for permission later” approach that can generate a wealth of benefits for the entire global community. So here’s my pick of the world’s best Gov 2.0 initiatives. What are your favourites?

http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-worlds-top-10-gov-20-initiatives

Then there is a “how to” or good practice service design principles from Gov.UK

Listed below are our design principles and examples of how we’ve used them so far. These build on, and add to, our original 7 digital principles.

https://www.gov.uk/design-principles

We are not totally sure if the mood in local and federal government is towards seeing Government as ripe for service redesign projects. There is some hope that some of the state and quasi state agencies are open to seeing how ‘apps’ (very fashionable) can improve their customer relationship. Are they thinking of redesigning themselves? Do they see Govt as a ‘service’? Not sure about this.

Quick intro to case studies

Meet the Govt.UK Content Team.

A short film to explain what we mean by Government as a Platform. By designing government services in blocks which do one job each, it’s easier to fix them, upgrade them, share them, and scale them up.

GOV.UK Verify is the new way to prove your identity when accessing digital government services. Janet Hughes explains how it works.

Leisa Reichelt: How to transform public services – An experience working for the UK government

The UK’s Policy Lab was launched at the beginning of April 2014. Policy Lab is a creative space where civil servants can experiment with new techniques and approaches to policy problems from data science to design. Its existence is born of a recognition that government needs to get better at policy-making; open it up, make it quicker, more digital and more connected with the people who are affected by it.

In this session Andrea shared their projects and revealed how they are working with design ethnographers, data scientists and other experts to develop new ideas in Government.