Wednesday, March 30, 2011

West African Monday Soup & Doc Gurley

Another Monday West African Peanut Soup - joyful chopping in the Nickelsville kitchen, this time Scott being a chef chopper.  Everybody is safe and sound, Mike much better after his bout with bronchitis/pneumonia, Karen playing solitaire on the table, people listening to music on personal devices and in the room next to the kitchen a film playing on TV screen; the frequent hunting cello solos were quite attention grabbing, so I asked Tracy about the film's title, and she said it was 'August Rush'.

I just checked this 2007 film on Rotten Tomatoes website (film ratings and reviews) and found this synopsis: A drama with fairy tale elements, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents. 84% of the voting public liked it, although this was the featured comment: 'Though featuring a talented cast, August Rush cannot overcome the flimsy direction and schmaltzy plot.'  Oh well, schmaltzy plot gets you through another rainy day of being homeless - people seemed to be glued to the screen, maybe because the movie's fairy tail appeal: 'Its almost desperate earnestness actually turns out to be its greatest appeal -- August Rush does believe in fairy tales, it does it does it does!' (from another review on the site).  And who does not - I'm going to watch it next time I'm in need of serious uplifting...

Doc Gurley
In December I linked to an article from Doc Gurley, a San Francisco based physician, who has a column in SFGate, as well as her own blog, and who often writes about the issues of being homeless.  Her February 17th column is titled:  How many Bay Area parolees are homeless? Sentenced to indefinite homelessness, and explores the subject of frequently older and frequently ill former inmates on the streets, who, due to incarceration, might have lost all the benefits they previously had (think blind or diabetic, mentally or physically challenged person now not qualifying for housing or food or medical vouchers - because the 'system' has them marked as 'receiving' in prison, while there is no automatic reconnection to benefits once a person is released).  There are not many places which will tend to their needs (I understand even Nickelsville would not be able to help much: one has to be fairly stable functioning and not of 'interest to police'  to be admitted), so the full article is well worth reading - it contains interesting thoughts and statistics + links to related articles, surveys, videos and other materials aiming on changing popular (not too positive, to put it gently) perception about the people who are homeless.  Here are the opening paragraphs:

It is universally acknowledged that the first wave of homelessness occurred when the mental health system was abolished. Many would argue that a second wave of homelessness occurred when vast amounts of affordable housing were eliminated. I would argue that a third wave of a more desperate, intractable, and frequently violent phase of homelessness has been created by our vast prison system.
How many people enter the prison system homeless? How many leave our prison system with no fixed destination? What subset of the 70 percent of ex-felons who return to prison are homeless?

Just for public safety reasons, you might assume the correctional system would want to know those numbers. A homeless person, by definition, is a wild card. You cannot know where they are at any point in time – much less immediately after a crime has occurred in the vicinity.
Surprisingly, according to both California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) research division and the voluminous reports on its website, the prison system does not explicitly track that information.
The rest is here...

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