Posts Tagged ‘share’

Photo: Parker Michels-Boyce for NPR.
Eric Perkins (right)
says lived on the beach, then a shelter and then in a hotel during the pandemic before moving into the Norfolk apartment,” NPR reports.”The median local rent for a one-bedroom apartment is over $1,000. Perkins’ rent is $600.

This is a story about an approach to housing that hasn’t always worked in the past but, when carefully managed, really can move people out of homelessness and into eventual independence. It’s called the roommate.

Jennifer Ludden has a report at National Public Radio (NPR).

“Even after three years of homelessness, Eric Perkins did not want to move into an apartment with another person who had been unhoused.

” ‘I was real skeptical because of the things I was seeing inside the shelter,’ he says. ‘A lot of drug use, lot of alcohol abuse, PTSD, there was a lot of veterans there. …

“But the arrangement suggested by a local housing provider has turned out better than he expected. On a recent afternoon, Perkins gave a tour of the two-story house where he has lived for more than two years. It’s divided into two apartments, and he shares the one on the first floor. The place came furnished, including with some homey knickknacks. Perkins has his own bedroom but shares a bathroom.

” ‘It’s small, but it’s enough for us,’ he says.

“Farther down the hall is what sold him on the place — a roomy kitchen with a window onto the small yard. ‘I like to cook,’ he says. ‘This is where I want to be.’

“Before he moved in, Perkins had lived on the beach in Virginia Beach, then a shelter and — during the pandemic — a hotel. He ended up without housing after a heart attack in 2017 and double-bypass surgery with no health insurance. He also has chronic lung disease that limits his ability to work. Perkins’ monthly disability payment is just under $800. The median local rent for a one-bedroom apartment is more than $1,000.

“After seeing the apartment and meeting the roommate he’d be paired with, Perkins decided to try it out. His rent is $600, and he gets a lot of help from housing aid. He says his roommate was also a good match with his personality, neat and quiet.

” ‘We got to know each other, we respected each other’s space, we shared everything,’ he says. ‘It was really nice.’

“That roommate ended up reuniting with his family and moved out, and in April 2021, Leon Corprew moved in. Corprew is 59 and Perkins is 56. They say they get along well, though they mostly keep to themselves and give each other space. Perkins used to cook for both of them, but Corprew makes his own meals now because, he says with a laugh, ‘I eat a lot!’

“Getting homeless people into their own apartment, without roommates, is considered the ‘gold standard’ for achieving independence, says Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. But record high rents and a historic housing shortage are making it all but impossible in many places in the U.S. …

“Rents in many places around the country have gone up by double digits in the past couple of years, and in June, the median listed rent for an available apartment rose above $2,000 a month for the first time. Federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income — or disability — have been unable to keep up. …

“Oliva says she’s seeing more interest in offering roommate arrangements to homeless people out of necessity. When vacancy rates are as low as 1% or 2%, she says expanding the search to two- or three-bedroom apartments can make it easier to find a place.

“It may also lead to housing in nicer neighborhoods, says Todd Walker, executive director of the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center in Virginia Beach, which found the shared apartment for Eric Perkins.

“Walker started trying out this kind of shared housing eight years ago when one of his volunteers offered to rent out a four-bedroom family home. And he says he quickly learned some of the pitfalls.

” ‘We had clients that weren’t paying [rent], other clients giving that client their money to pay for the utility and it wasn’t getting paid,’ he says. ‘It was a catastrophe.’

“The first major lesson Walker learned was to have a separate lease for each roommate. That way, if one person is a problem they can be moved — or evicted — without everyone else being kicked out. Also, he says it’s important to keep utilities in the landlord’s name and include that cost in the rent.

“Another rule that Walker considers nonnegotiable: No doubling up in bedrooms, and there must be locks on the bedroom doors so that each renter is guaranteed a safe space. …

“The whole idea can also be a tough sell to landlords, who might worry about property damage. Walker talks it up to mom-and-pop landlords at every chance and offers incentives like a bonus or double deposit. He says these arrangements often let him house people who would otherwise be denied a lease, because of lack of income, a criminal record or past eviction. …

“Landlord Sophia Sills-Tailor owns the house where Perkins and Corprew live. When she heard about Walker’s program five years ago, she was desperate to rent out a couple of places. She’d been using Craigslist but found those tenants ‘fly-by-night.’ Working with a nonprofit seemed more stable, even if its clients were homeless.

” ‘When they come in, they don’t just say, “OK, here is the person, goodbye,” ‘ she says. They help them set up the household, donating things like blankets, pots and pans. ‘”‘And then they’re coming to see them.’ “

More at NPR, here. No firewall.

I love that when Perkins says the shared apartment is small, he adds that it’s “enough for us.” The roommates are not friends, but they are still an “us.”

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Photo: Simon Schneider/ Romantischer Rhein Tourismus GmbH via DW.
Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to pick whatever food they like from a public garden in Andernach, Germany.

An idea whose time has come may be growing food on public land and making it free for the picking. I wrote a 2011 post on scavenging, here, and a 2020 post on a homeless teen whose foraging helped her learn to cook, here. In those cases, the taking of food was done on the sly. But what if municipalities actively encouraged people to forage, as landscape director Paul did at my last job did?

Cathy Free writes at the Washington Post, “The city of Andernach, Germany, planted 101 varieties of tomatoes in the town center and told everyone to pluck and take whatever they wanted.

“It was such a hit, the following year the city did the same with beans. The next year, it was onions. After that, the city planted fruit trees, lettuce, zucchini, berries and herbs. All were free to anyone who lived or happened to be in the town of 30,000 people. …

“It’s one of a growing number of places across the globe known as edible cities. In the United States, there are public lands from Seattle to North Carolina where people are welcome to pick and take from fruiting trees and bushes.

“Organizers interviewed for this article said there has never been a problem with people taking more than they need, whether they grab a single pear or a bag full of potatoes and artichokes.

Every year, there is more than enough produce to go around.

“ ‘Many here are very proud when you talk to them about our edible city,’ said Bettina Schneider, 29, city team coordinator for the Edible Cities Network in Andernach.

“When word got out that Andernach’s public gardens and orchards — which started in 2010 — were free for the picking, other cities in Germany and throughout the European Union joined in, she said. Now the Edible Cities Network is funded by the European Commission, the executive body of the E.U.

“The areas that were converted into fruiting gardens and orchards in Andernach were previously overgrown and unkempt, so the gardens were well received, Schneider said, noting that a medieval moat is now covered with peach, almond and pear trees, and vacant spaces near schools have been transformed into community vegetable patches. …

“ ‘Every partner organization in the project receives funding from the E.U. budget to carry out their work,’ [Marisa Pettit, a coordinator for Edible Cities] said. Pettit said that several cities also receive funding for what Edible Cities calls ‘living labs’ — green spaces where residents can hold community events and develop their own plans to help their urban gardens to thrive and produce bountiful harvests.

“Edible Cities is now supporting a community garden in Cuba, while cities in China, Tunisia, Togo and Uruguay are also developing plans for urban food forests, said Ina Säumel, a principal investigator for the Edible Cities Network. …

“Many U.S. cities have similar projects. Detroit has an urban farming movement, Philadelphia has food forests, and there are edible community projects in Atlanta and Los Angeles. All rely on volunteers to do the weeding, pruning and planting.

“Smaller cities such as Bloomington, Ind., and Hyattsville, Md., also have fruit trees and vegetable gardens that can be accessed by anyone.

“At the Dr. George Washington Carver Edible Park in Asheville, N.C., founded more than 20 years ago, residents can harvest whatever they like from 40 varieties of fruit and nut trees, said Lynx Bergdahl, a community organizer at Bountiful Cities, the nonprofit that helps manage the food forest.

“ ‘Anyone can get whatever they want, when they want it,’ said Bergdahl, 33. ‘This is about taking away as many barriers as possible to create public food access, whether somebody wants a single apple or an entire basket.’

“In Seattle, the neighborhood of Beacon Hill turned a steep and empty slope next to a public park into a vibrant edible landscape in 2012 through a partnership with the city. The Beacon Food Forest recently celebrated its 10th anniversary as a diverse community garden that is open to anyone walking by, said Elise Evans, one of the project’s volunteers. …

“ ‘To create something from a blank hillside was a big deal,’ she said. ‘Our harvest truly offers something for everyone and it’s based on trust. People take what they need and are fed for free, and that’s an empowering feeling.’ “

Do you ever nibble from gardens around your town? Please let me know.

More at the Post, here.

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Photo: Todd Cravens via Unsplash.
Some whales “pass their songs across oceans,” says the New York Times. Humpback whales have been studied the most extensively, but other species of whales also sing complex songs.

Although we are surrounded by ocean, I fear that we rarely give much thought to how really extraordinary the ocean is and how many wonders dwell there. Today’s story is about whales that share their song lists around the world.

Carl Zimmer writes at the New York Times, “In a study published [in August], scientists found that humpback songs easily spread from one population to another across the Pacific Ocean. It can take just a couple of years for a song to move several thousand miles.

“Ellen Garland, a marine biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and an author of the study, said she was shocked to find whales in Australia passing their songs to others in French Polynesia, which in turn gave songs to whales in Ecuador.

“ ‘Half the globe is now vocally connected for whales,’ she said. ‘And that’s insane.’

“It’s even possible that the songs travel around the entire Southern Hemisphere. Preliminary studies by other scientists are revealing whales in the Atlantic Ocean picking up songs from whales in the eastern Pacific.

“Each population of humpback whales spends the winter in the same breeding grounds. The males there sing loud underwater songs that can last up to half an hour. Males in the same breeding ground sing a nearly identical tune. And from one year to the next, the population’s song gradually evolves into a new melody.

“Dr. Garland and other researchers have uncovered a complex, language-like structure in these songs.

The whales combine short sounds, which scientists call units, into phrases. They then combine the phrases into themes. And each song is made of several themes.

“Male humpbacks sometimes change a unit in their song. Sometimes they add a new phrase or chop out a theme. The other males may then copy it. These embellishments cause the population’s song to gradually evolve, resulting in drastically different melodies from one population to the next.

“Michael Noad, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland, discovered that a population’s song can sometimes make a sudden, dramatic change. In 1996, he and his colleagues noticed that a male on the east coast of Australia had given up the local song and was now singing a tune that matched one previously sung on the west coast of the country.

“Within two years, all of the males on the east coast were singing that song. Dr. Noad’s landmark study was the first to discover this kind of cultural revolution in any animal species.

“Dr. Garland … wondered if their songs were spreading farther east across the Pacific. An opportunity to find out arrived when Judith Denkinger and Javier Oña, marine biologists at the University of San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, offered to collaborate. They study humpback whales that breed on the coast of Ecuador.

“For their new study, Ms. Denkinger and Mr. Oña recorded humpback whales from 2016 to 2018. Over the same period, Michael Poole, a marine biologist at the Marine Mammal Research Program on the French Polynesian island of Moorea, recorded whales there. …

“In 2016 and 2017, the two populations of whales had clearly distinct songs. But in 2018, a revolution happened: The whales in Ecuador were putting French Polynesian themes in their songs. The scientists reported their findings [in] the journal Royal Society Open Science.

“Elena Schall, a postdoctoral researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, who was not involved in the study, said that she is seeing some similar patterns in the Atlantic Ocean. Humpback whales off the coast of Brazil and South Africa are picking up themes previously recorded off the coast of Ecuador.

“It is conceivable, Dr. Schall said, that songs flow all the way around the Southern Hemisphere. ‘It’s possible, but there’s a data gap in the Indian Ocean,’ she said. ‘I think that will definitely be the next step, if we can find enough data.’ “

More at the Times, here. Amazing to think that whales in one part of the world can “cover” the songs of whales thousands of miles away.

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Pavithra Mehta writes at Yes! Magazine about a network of restaurants where guests are asked to “pay it forward.”

Mehta’s explanation is a little far out for me, but I know I wouldn’t mind eating at one of these places. They sound cheerful. And I would be happy to pay it forward.

“In Berkeley, Calif.,” Mehta writes, “the Karma Kitchen restaurant bases its business on the concept of gratitude. Each visitor can pay nothing or voluntarily pay for a meal for a future guest. …

“The bill comes with a note that explains their meal was a gift from someone who came before them. If they wish to pay it forward, they can make a contribution for someone who comes after them …

“More than six years [after its founding], Karma Kitchen is still going strong. It has served more than 30,000 meals and now has chapters in half-a-dozen cities around the world. And it is all sustained by gratitude.

“Karma Kitchen works on the deceptively simple premise that the heart that fills, spills. The nature of gratitude is to overflow its banks and circulate. It does not stand still. But remove that ineffable quality from the equation, and the virtuous cycle breaks down.

“The sociologist Georg Simmel called gratitude ‘the moral memory of mankind.’ It serves to connect us to each other in small, real, and human ways. Remove it from the fabric of our lives, and all relationship becomes an endless series of soulless transactions.”

More at Yes! here.

Video: Seva Café , Gujarat, India

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