A Heart for the Homeless

HeartOnce upon a time, there was a woman who had a heart for the homeless. Having endured many hardships in her own life, she found that she was blessed with a certain compassion that was very rare in the society she lived in, and she found herself compelled to reach out to those that were suffering due to inclement times. She searched them out high and low throughout the land, offering to help them by donating blankets, clothes, and hygienic items that were given to her by people who shared her compassion.

Like a huntress on a quest for more game, she learned where the recipients of her devotion gathered and sought out their hidden holes and hovels, sharing with them the gospel of grace that was shared with her when she was down and out. With the urge to honor the citizens who shared her town, when she found an encampment on a particular piece of property, she contacted the owner to ask for permission to minister to those who were interloping on his land. Magically, her compassion spread and the owner of the property asked if she would like to develop the land into a place that could minister to those for whom she cared, and the Sanctuary of Sarasota was created.

Through her Trinity Without Borders ministry, Vallerie Guillory is now preparing a 3.6 acre plot of land into a rehabilitative haven for the homeless. More than just a homeless shelter, Vallerie is drawing assistance from her community to make this space a school of life, and building upon the commercial zoning to inspire those who have lost hope to believe in themselves and develop their own entrepreneurial ventures. By never giving up on her faith in humanity, and empowering those who have been forgotten by the hurly burly ratrace of modern society, Vallerie is making a difference by cultivating the very thing that is missing from the solitary life of homelessness – community.

The Man Who Lives Without Money

Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here’s how he finds it.

r547030_3212368

If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal. The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.

For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour. If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today. Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch.

The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophising with a friend over a glass of merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma’s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then. We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labour – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.

But that evening I had a realisation. These issues weren’t as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause. I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.

The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we’re completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff’ we buy.

Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don’t have any idea that they directly are. The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalised format.

Take this for an example: if we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today.

If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior décor.

If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn’t shit in it.

So to be the change I wanted to see in the world, it unfortunately meant I was going to have to give up money, which I decided to do for a year initially. So I made a list of the basics I’d need to survive. I adore food, so it was at the top. There are four legs to the food-for-free table: foraging wild food, growing your own, bartering and using waste grub, of which there far too much.

On my first day I fed 150 people a three course meal with waste and foraged food. Most of the year I ate my own crops though and waste only made up about five per cent my diet. I cooked outside – rain or shine – on a rocket stove.

Next up was shelter. So I got myself a caravan from Freecycle, parked it on an organic farm I was volunteering with, and kitted it out to be off the electricity grid. I’d use wood I either coppiced or scavenged to heat my humble abode in a wood burner made from an old gas bottle, and I had a compost loo to make ‘humanure’ for my veggies.

I bathed in a river, and for toothpaste I used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds, an oddity for a vegan. For loo roll I’d relieve the local newsagents of its papers (I once wiped my arse with a story about myself); it wasn’t double quilted but it quickly became normal. To get around I had a bike and trailer, and the 55 km commute to the city doubled up as my gym subscription. For lighting I’d use beeswax candles.

Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything. I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness. And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase. More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.

Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.

Could we all live like this tomorrow? No. It would be a catastrophe, we are too addicted to both it and cheap energy, and have managed to build an entire global infrastructure around the abundance of both. But if we devolved decision making and re-localised down to communities of no larger than 150 people, then why not? For over 90 per cent of our time on this planet, a period when we lived much more ecologically, we lived without money. Now we are the only species to use it, probably because we are the species most out of touch with nature.

People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills. Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.

Source: www.worldobserveronline.com

Let’s Tell a Story…

Writing-writing-27456811-500-374Our lives are comprised of stories. When we consider what makes us who we are, our vision is a tapestry of occurrences, relationships, events, memories of the road we have trod to become what we are in this dimension of space and time. We are the culmination of our stories.
The development of our very civilization is based upon the stories we tell ourselves. Every invention has been created by the story of how it can be made. Every achievement based on the story of overcoming an adversity.

As we co-create the world we live in, our reality is crafted through the stories we tell ourselves. Through the story of competition, we tell ourselves that the world is limited and that our successes must be based within a man-made framework of debt, hard work, and separation. This story of competition has indeed helped us create many things, most notably the technology to take our stories and make them grand.

In our Dark Age of storytelling, in order to perpetuate the story of competition that helped us to create this communicative gadgetry, we have told many stories of fear, horror, sorrow, and violence. And largely due to these stories, we have continued to manifest stories of hardship, conflict, loss, and war. If we are to rise from this Dark Age, we must tell stories of Renaissance, stories of rebirth, and stories of collaboration.

For though these perpetuated stories of separation may be true as we continue to tell them and bring them into consciousness, just as true are our stories of reunion. Even in the seeming bleakness of life, we are given cause and opportunity to be champions, overcomers, heroes, and the shining lights of love that have inspired us throughout the generations. These of the stories of how we make a difference in the world around us. These are the stories which must be told.