Over the last two years I've walked into many tent communities. My first steps into Sacramento's Tent City [ Day 1 - Day 2 ] I was literally shocked that this was America, yet at the same time overwhelmed that the growth of tent cities will become America's future.
I'll never forget the day I walked into Nickelsville. Nickelsville is a self-governed tent city encouraging real community for support and healing. Call me an old hippie if you want. I fell in love with this tent city model. It truly is gorgeous. But after reflection I saw something else. Nickelsville is a slap in our (homeless services) face. These people should not have to live homeless like this, and the reason they do is because we (homeless services) failed to help them. Point blank: the only reason tent cities exist in the first place is because the shelter system is broken.
Lily Au, a housewife who was once helped by a homeless man and now helps fight homelessness, asked me to visit a tent city in Ann Arbor. After a long drive and a long walk into the woods we arrived at Camp Take Notice . It was there I met Caleb Poirier, a brilliant young man who prefers to just say he is the organizer of Camp Take Notice. Below is a short interview with Caleb that I hope you'll take the time to watch.
I learned so much from my short time with Caleb. My biggest takeaway is Caleb believes the shelter system is vertical support meaning help comes down from employees to the homeless population then stops. In the tent city model support is horizontal with homeless people helping other homeless people. There is much truth to that and I hope homeless service providers will look at horizontal support solutions empowering homeless people to help each other. Here is a short interview with Caleb at Camp Take Notice.