Back in Alaska, I work in at an art gallery that partly specializes in Alaskan Native Artwork. I get the rare chance to interact and really get to know some amazing people through my job. These are incredible individuals that still live in rural Alaska, under very rough conditions, hunting and prospering off the land in a very traditional manner. The very disappointing thing about the majority of the population in Alaska is that their view of Alaskan Natives is of very negative nature.
When you say “Alaskan Native”, people automatically picture the scruffy haired, flannel wearing drunk stumbling around downtown Anchorage, or the smelly, dirty, crazed looking woman speaking to herself or yelling at cars. Such a high percentage of the homeless people that those of us who live in urban Alaska see are Alaskan natives, many of whom have developed drug or alcohol dependency issues, leading them to their current conditions. It is not uncommon to hear about these people being arrested for camping in local parks, wooded areas. It is illegal to camp in not designated areas such as these but many congregate and form camps regardless hoping to be overlooked.
As I used to walk from the parking garage to work everyday, I would pass a “Jesus” resembling gentleman with dirty bare feet sticking out of ankle length pants, sitting on a shredded blanket with his droopy eyed dog. His name is John Martin and he has been sitting outside of City Hall for about two years now, protesting that our city’s infrastructure create campsites within the city for the homeless to legally stay at, as an alternative to shelters and churches. He, like Rebecca Smith, desires the ability to refuse government run housing. The governments’ hesitance is seeded in the fear of what occurs at homeless camps. Drugs, rape, and abuse are shockingly prominent in such communities and the death tolls are very saddening. Humans that are in no state to take care of themselves to begin with especially can’t find means to survive outdoors during a harsh winter. Would it be beneficial or detrimental to loosen the reins and allow these individuals to put themselves in such unsafe conditions?
Personally I don’t believe the core of the problem lies in the location of where one chooses to sleep, or their ability to do so. It has to say something that a human being would choose to live in fear, below freezing temperatures for months on end, and surround themselves with crime, rather than walk into one of the many open shelters scattered throughout the city. One of the problems brought up in the case was that Rebecca didn’t want to go back to the way she was treated in the places she was sent to for help.
It is a complete waste of money for the government to be funding institutions where those like Rebecca Smith should be getting help at, if they aren’t regulated or properly supervised. We can’t place these people who can’t take care of themselves under semiprofessionals and/or people that really just don’t care about the overall well being of the patients. We have to spend that little extra money to get these people the best care so they actually succeed in recovering to the point where they can take care of themselves and that is the end of it. If the people helping are only doing their jobs half assed, it’s a never-ending cycle and the patients will never actually get better and they’ll just keep winding up in poorly run institutions. If we’re going to put out the funds to help people, we need to accompany that also with funds to oversee these processes and establishments so peoples’ lives actually improve instead of having a temporary quick fix. I believe the same is to be said about homeless shelters.
Instead of having the mindset that a shelter is just a roof over someone’s head in the form of charity, I think homeless shelters should be establishments of self-improvement. I think we should set up resources to help get peoples’ lives put back together. Whether that be helping them get jobs, or providing free drug and alcohol prevention meetings, homeless shelters should be viewed as halfway homes, not final destinations. I feel like more proud street individuals would be encouraged to utilize homeless shelters as a tool, instead seeing it as a failure or “cop out”. I do not see it as a responsibility of the government to coerce people to visit these places, but I do think it’s the publics’, as well as the governments’, job to ensure these establishments have good connotation.
notsosisyphean asked: I love the necklace on your March 29 post! I clicked the picture but it doesn't take me to where it's sold :( Can you repost the link?
Oh bummer! Its up now! For some reason the link doesn’t want to attach to the picture so I just posted it beneath. Must be a phone-glitch…
tumblrbot asked: WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST HUMAN MEMORY?
Thinking I saw a bear standing in my driveway when I was 3!