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.

Part 2: On Solving Homelessness

While the last post was a deep dive into texts and the condition – this post is a look at Design Projects that have dealt with Homelessness. The understanding of of the condition is necessarily opportunistic – to realize a project. So the meaning accords with ‘the absence of home’ – and the person in this narrative is an idealized individual – you will find that there is not much depth in the construction of persona. Therefore for the current engagement and focus upon the ‘youth’ these projects are not very helpful. The LEARNING for design students here is in the clarity with which you can see that ‘normal design’ projects differ from social impact design projects.

For example the normal in design is focussed upon consumption and thus upon treating the people impacted by the design as this heterogeneous melange that can still be targeted with specific solutions. And this works in tech or materially embodied constructions – i.e. anyone can stand underneath a shelter and be protected from the rain.

More importantly it will be unusual to expect a design project that focusses upon providing a digital health record for this category of people.

I am therefore posting some projects – as the problem that design has in its inability to ‘disrupt’ mainstream ways of thinking.

How Might We Design Out Homelessness?

Raffaele identified two major factors affecting homelessness–not enough accommodation and not enough capital to support services to the multi-disadvantaged. He believes systems design is the best way to address these issues and looked to nature through biomimicry to come up with potential solutions.

http://designonline.org.au/how-might-we-design-out-homelessness/

Defensive architecture: designing the homeless out of cities

On any one night in London, there around 700 people sleeping in the city’s streets. Rough sleeping is a risky decision – and almost always the choice of the most desperate. Yet the response of the state – and our society – is surprisingly hostile.
Rough sleeping – and homelessness more generally – are on the rise. But austerity measures have made things worse, by cutting funds to vital support services. On top of this, rough sleepers have good reason to fear abusive behaviour from passers-by. Shockingly, this has even included physical attacks, resulting in documented deaths.

http://theconversation.com/defensive-architecture-designing-the-homeless-out-of-cities-52399

Design Resources for Homelessness

Design Resources for Homelessness is a knowledge resource that shares information about practical research, best practices and related content on the design of environments for persons that are homeless. It addresses emergency, transitional and permanent supportive housing types, housing first projects, and also day centers, clinics, and service outreach facilities. It is a non-profit initiative funded by donations and grants. Its information is provided without charge.

http://designresourcesforhomelessness.org/

Making Space for the Homeless

On a recent afternoon, at Parsons School of Design, on Thirteenth Street, the artist and interior designer Kevin Walz greeted a handful of guests in a large, long studio space that had high, old-fashioned embossed-metal ceilings and work spaces crowded with scraps and tools and models. He wore a shirt sewn to look like two layered button-up shirts, each with a different stripe, and had a punkish smile and a knot of gray hair perched above the closely shaved sides of his broad head. He offered people bottled water as they entered—Evian and Fiji—from a green plastic bodega bag.

Perhaps it’s fanciful to be discussing beautiful design in the face of horror stories about the city’s neglected, dilapidated shelters. Or perhaps the project of reconceptualizing what it means to house the homeless goes hand in hand with the project of finding sustainable approaches to homelessness. (In an area where the best practices seem wholly inadequate to the problem at hand, and where departures from orthodoxy—such as a Utah experiment that simply gave homeless people houses—can be notably fruitful, the idea of radical reconceptualization is particularly attractive.) But the ability to conceive of and implement beautiful design with scarce resources is a great test of skill and talent, and it’s worth wondering whether top-tier designers would even be interested in these tight-budget contracts. (“My passion still goes to high-end residential spaces,” which allow for extensive customization, one student said.) But from the working designer’s point of view, designing for a low-income demographic might offer another kind of freedom. Walz said that he’s observed a growing discontent among interior designers with some of the changes that economic trends have wrought on their profession. “Everybody has sort of had it with the sense of entitlement in certain parts of the population,” he said. “But nobody wants to talk about it—you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you.”

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/making-space-for-the-homeless

Homeless­ness Is Bad Design

Homelessness is what happens when people fall through the cracks of different systems, so if we’re to put an end to it, we need to create integrated teams—the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the mayor’s office, the nonprofits, the housing authority. It’s only when you get everyone together in the same room that you can construct a well-performing housing placement system that isn’t sending vulnerable people down all sorts of dead ends.

https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-design/a/rosanne-haggerty/

Housing for the Homeless: 14 Smart & Sensitive Solutions

City officials spend a lot of time and energy worrying about how to keep homeless people off public furniture and out of certain common areas, when they should be considering how to better manage the issue of homelessness in general. One area of focus is homeless housing, whether simply meeting the immediate needs of people who live on the streets or providing a more long-term, forward-thinking transitional living spaces. These 14 designs for homeless housing provoke thought as to how we can meet the needs of disadvantaged people living in our own communities, and ensure that the situation is only temporary.

weburbanist.com/2012/03/19/housing-for-the-homeless-14-smart-sensitive-solutions/

Kyoto Field Trip Notes

I have for some time now been working on a project Hunting Wajima – that has set out to imagine the form and construction of furniture that will be made by a workshop in East Timor. The name of the project was itself a project – a sort of branding exercise. I set out to come up with a name that would point to the spirit of the design – a design-brief in two words as it were. This is different from what I have done for another project where I carved a portmanteau word – Jaliangan – to define the form of a particular kind of contemporary architecture. An architecture of boxes and their jali like wrappers. Somehow very Japanese too.

NOTE: The Hunting Wajima Project is mentioned in a previous post: https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/hunting-wajima-project/

In the current phase of the project I am building on a proposition – Slatted Constructions (as posted here https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/slatted-constructions/). I want to design a furniture collection that does two things:
1. It explores the notion of slatted construction as a program, a way of building furniture.
2. It explores the typology of Japanese wood work as a source of inspiration and as a text to write into the program of Slatted Constructions.

The exploration of Japanese wood work has brought me to Kyoto, the home of and location of traditional wood work practice in Japan. I am looking not at the hard and pushy furniture products such as what I been seeing in the furniture shops and the traditional wood working Kojos. I am yet to see something inspiring. A few days ago I visited a workshop making extremely expensive (1 million Yen and above, or 10,000$ and above) furniture. Drawer units and tables. Very refined work but it left me untouched. I was excited to see the use of the elaborate traditional joints, but apart from that I was left cold by the obsessive pyrotechnics, excessive finish and shiny polish. I was looking for the rustic the natural and the truly old. So I have set out to document the marginal and forgotten. Pieces of wooden craftsmanship that are natural and light. The photographs here are some examples from that documentation.

Today I came up with the elements of a language – a typology of components:
Legs: I am documenting the forms of legs, especially that of low tables.
Endings: I am looking at the way members end, often flat but every now and then differently such as with a taper
Sizes: I am looking carefully at the sizes of linear elements, I am looking at the cross sections of the timber.
Intersections & Crossings: I am looking at how the linear elements continue beyond the intersections, for a bit more.
Lattice forms: I am looking at lattice form – the grid – which is more often a composition mainly of vertical slats.
Joins: I am looking at the way joins are formed.
Key wedge: I am understanding how the wedge in the joint helps the furniture achieve No nails/ No glue

I then had a thought today that CAD and CNC could be played with to sculpt the linear elements. The joints still occurring in the precise rectilinear locations.

I am doing some photography and also collecting images in Pinterest. You can see my collections and resources in the links below.

Japanese Joinery: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/japanese-joinery/
Kyoto: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/kyoto/
Japanese bamboo Crafts: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/japanese-bamboo-crafts/
Reimagining Nature: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/wajima-forms/
Inspirational woodwork: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/hunting-wajima/

A great Japanese and Japanese inspired furniture board: https://www.pinterest.com/rich_deboer/japanese-furniture-and-sculptures/

Video

The Book Wallah Project

I worked on this project in 2012.

A Masters in Social Design

I get the news today on Facebook that Ambedkar University Delhi is open for admissions to its masters program in Social Design. I resist the temptation to add an ‘at last’ to the title and move on.

You can see the Program announcement here – http://www.aud.ac.in/academic/programs/masters_programmes-2/ma_in_social_design-582

I go into my blog to find the posts I was publishing as I was imagining a new school of design to be started in New Delhi. It is 2008, I have just stepped down from the position of Program Director and am very excited to do new projects. I bump into the Vice Chancellor and his Advisor at the India International Centre in Delhi. They say they would like to set up a School of Design at a new university! Would I work on this?

In 2003 I had worked on a similar project with the Advisor (then Dean of Planning at Delhi University) – visualizing a School of Design for Delhi University. So we had a connection. And I had another pro-bono venture taking off as it turned out.

The new university, as we sipped coffee, had at that time only three employees. The two people I was with and their driver. I am excited and running red hot suddenly – and launch into how the future should be non-object, non-elitist and non-urban. At the end of half and hour they say – send us something. I come back and through Nov and Dec 2008 have my vision drafted. As I draft my thoughts leak out into my blog – so I assembled that stuff, plus a paper I published on ‘service design for India’ below.

The vision was – an integrated UG (4 years) in Social Design, and two PGs (2 years) in Service Design and Social Innovation. You can see the documents and the program structure of the three programs here – https://sites.google.com/site/faintvoicesite/

You can see the argument for the vision here (a conference paper I published with Liz): The Social for India

Yes its now a PG in Social Design – but its great that its non-object, non-consumption focussed and focussed upon social engagement.

I am chuffed/ this is great news to start the day/ wondering about the curriculum! And so it goes.

New Design School at Ambedkar University Delhi

Nov 10, 2008

There is to be a new School of Design in New Delhi. This will be in the new university – AUD or Ambedkar University, Delhi. See link below to the site of the university.

The School of Design

Nov 10, 2008

I wrote this in October – as a starting of a vision document for the Design School (AUD)

Design School Vision

Nov 28, 2008

I finally started writing – the tool kit for a new School of Design. A tool kit because a vision is so self aggarandising. Tool kit is so much more participative. For now the tool kit has three parts – a way to do a take on design.

Integrated Design

Dec 8, 2008

I have been looking at the Bachelors in Integrated Design offered by the Koln International School of Design. This means I have considered it from many angles and there are many things I like about it.

A New School for India

Dec 9, 2008

So I ask the question – can a design school be set up which lets go of its professional anchorings (in the art and design framework ) to focus all its energies upon this population of people?

Design Education for the future

Dec 10 2008

Such a design school then offers design education along two lines: Service Design and Social Innovation.

Social Design it is

Dec 22, 2008

I have just come back from India. And from Presenting the School of Design vision. For now its all go – and that is really exciting. In short the vision argues for three new kinds of courses: …

And for the future >>

Service design for India

July 15, 2009

Soumitri Varadarajan – Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum | Re-public: re-imagining democracy – english version