http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BG46IwVfSu8 Empathy isn’t just something that expands your moral universe. Empathy is something that can make you a more creative thinker, improve your relationships, can create the human bonds that make life worth living. But, more than that, empathy is also about social change — radical social change.
Where Children Sleep is a beautiful photographic book by James Mollison. It powerfully illustrates the difference and diversity and disparity in children’s lives around the world. How does your bedroom and life compare to the rest of the world?
Australia is rich and on top of the world: is it time to pop the champers? How rich? Well, we are a mere 0.36% of the world’s adult population but we account for 3.78% of the world’s top 1% wealthiest. The only nation with a more lopsided share of the top 1% is Switzerland, whose 0.13% of the world’s population still sees them with 1.63% of the richest 1%. How did we earn such wealth? Mostly it has come about through home ownership. Credit Suisse notes that our wealth is “heavily skewed towards real assets”, which amount on average to US$294,100 or about 59% of total assets. This average level of real assets is second only to Norway. It suggests a situation open to risks of inequality, as those on poorer incomes are shut out of the wealth-generating housing market, and a danger that our wealth could collapse if house prices fall. ...But one group left out were those on Newstart. Since the mid 1990s Newstart has gone from just below 50% of the median household income to now around 30% – well below poverty level... But while most of our issues are decidedly “first world problems”, let us not think that everyone is enjoying this great increase in wealth..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1BRrUG2XKPc Homesick: A documentary
Homesick is a feature length documentary film about four homeless friends whose lives take a turn for the better when they are told they are to be part of a bold new housing initiative. After living for years in the chaotic and sometimes violent world of their South Melbourne rooming houses Sue, Grant, Lee and Ingrid are given a chance to create a home where they can re-build their lives. Their compelling story is based on the central dramatic question; Will having a place to call home be the catalyst for positive changes in their lives?
While following our characters’ journeys over four years, they have allowed us intimate access into their worlds, courageously revealing the emotional and psychological impact of living without a home.The upheaval of moving again and again takes its toll, but when our characters finally get to move into their new accommodation, the results are both interesting and surprising.This is a story that interrogates the real meaning of the word home.
They have just launched a Pozible Crowdfunding campaign to raise completion funds for the film.
How big is your house? Is it big enough? Is there an optimum amount of floor space per person? Do you have any spare rooms?
Given that lack of housing is a major factor in homelessness and that on any given day in Australia 1/2 the people seeking accommodation are turned away, maybe it’s time we rethought how big our houses are.
Recently my friend and I were sitting having a coffee on Swanston street when a guy wandered up to us and asked us if we could spare any coins. He explained that he was homeless, sleeping in a nearby alley and needing money for food and accommodation. He looked the part too: the epitome of the homeless stereotype. An older guy with a Gandalf beard and ragged, dirty clothes.
We offered to buy the guy a meal and he accepted. My mate and I wandered across the street with him to a 24-hour diner style restaurant and we all got a drink and him a meal. We sat and chatted while he ate and he was a pretty friendly guy. He explained that he had been homeless for about 20 years, spending most of that time in Melbourne. We asked if he had heard of our organisation (Credo Café was only a few hundred metres away from where we sat) but he said he wasn’t familiar with it. This shocked me. Firstly because of the long duration of his homelessness but also the proximity of his sleeping spot to our main office and café.
It really hit home for me that the roughly 100k homeless people in Australia is no small number.
As he finished his meal we said goodnight and off we all went, him to his business and us to ours. As we walked down towards Flinders Street my friend and I chatted about the conversation we’d just had. I couldn’t believe he’d never heard of Urban Seed but my friend commented, “I just wanted to know about his ring.”
“His ring?” I responded, confused. “Yeah he was wearing a wedding ring. He’s been homeless for 20 years and is clearly alone now, so what happened to the girl?”
One hundred thousand homeless around the country and each one has a story but I’ve only had the privilege to hear a few.
Seeing Urban Seed is a not for profit, money is always an interesting topic. When it comes to to talking, thinking about and even asking for money we are not that good at it. Partly because it’s not what we often view as important or that matters. But without money we would not be able to do the things that we do. We don’t make money, we rely on the generous support of people to fund all that we do at Urban Seed.
In a recent conversation with a colleague we decided that money was a bit like blood and water. Perhaps money is similar to water and blood in that is ‘vital’. For without money one cannot live… But more importantly maybe money is like blood and water in the way that it works to sustain life. If our blood did not circulate we would not survive. If water stays still it grows stagnant. Blood and water must keep moving.
Maybe money is also like blood in the way that blood moves to where it is most needed in the body. It rushes to the parts of the body that need healing, flooding the broken hurt bits with the goodness needed to heal. Maybe we need to let our money circulate and move in this same way to the hurt and broken bits that need healing in the world?
The challenge for us then is how and what we do with our money. How do we keep our money moving so that it remains vital? And maybe just maybe by doing so we ourselves may become more healthy.
And so audaciously I will now ask if you can move your money to the work of Urban Seed so that we can continue to help the hurting and broken heal.