"This homeless problem" part 1

Let's figure what the heck that is...

Am I allowed to say this?

More and more, I find myself typing queries like this into search bars

A few years back - I went to the beach for a friend’s birthday thing. She’s an academic, so naturally, she had a few friends from school there. They were young and strong-willed. That’s something I like.

I enjoy real conversation and I often take an edge to spark it quickly! Let’s get this thing going! But they weren’t having it. Within about 3 seconds they were letting me know that I was terrible and well… they had a lot of conviction for this ideology that they were clearly ‘learning’ in school. Maybe I am a conquistador, but I think we should still be able to talk about it. I could tell that we weren’t going to be having any conversations. They weren’t taught to have a dialog. That’s a story for later - but it scared me.

I’m not scared about saying something wrong / and being judged - but I’m scared that I won’t be allowed to speak - if it isn’t just right.

The funny thing is - I think about words - all the time. I’ve driven at least a few friends away by just talking about words too much. I’m no Noam Chomsky - but words are have a lot of power and they are strange beasts. So, to be seen as insensitive with words is shocking. I’m always thinking about how I can learn ways to more clearly express my meaning.

“We need to end homelessness!” - someone


We can call it anything you want. The CONCEPT is still the same right? So - there’s no reason to derail the conversation with a stranger - if your ‘label’ of the concept is slightly different (at least not until it becomes necessary). Choosing the best word is a great goal in the long run.

“This homeless problem”

But labels are tricky. Once you name something, a false sense of shared understanding is born. Because we’ve named “homelessness” or “vagrancy” or “people without homes” or “residence challenges” or “the unhoused” - or whatever seems best at this time: we’ve rounded the corners and stopped the conversation.

What is the default state

The default state for a human - is not to be housed. Isn’t it? But everything is natural…

It depends on how far back you go. Caves, tents, log cabins, barns. In elementary school, we built out all the different types of Native American housing styles (which is really dark in retrospect). People gathered together into groups and either carried their houses with them - or built slightly more permanent structures. The people worked together.

What do we consider “the norm?”

Right now - the norm seems to look like this:

People get their little area where they can walk around naked / keep all your ‘stuff’ / and generally have a locked door - and quell any fears of being snuck up on. If you haven’t already: listen to this podcast from Radio Lab: “One eye open.” These dwellings let us sleep without worrying about the now non-existent predators.

and then - each person/family has their own space with those things.

and - zoom out a little.

It’s nature. It’s natural, right?

But is it the default? Are the homeless people the exception?

I want you to consider the idea that the “homeless” people - are the standard. They are just “the people.”

That’s all for today. I think this will be one of many on this subject.

How are referring to the people of the world who live in the park, under the bridge, or in their car? What are some words we’re using to discuss this phenomenon?