Timing and Patience and Dimmer Switches…

We must ALL walk together when Vulnerable…

It has been awhile since I’ve updated the Project here, although it’s more frequent on the Facebook page. With following the latest political climate, there is reason to believe that The Universe is aligning our 18 month “ahead of the curve” Mission with the rest of the Country, which is evidently ready to start a REAL conversation about choices and exactly WHAT kind of country we want to be.

In my daily work at a homeless shelter, as well as conversations with folks from all walks of Life, I’m continuously reminded that the “on/off” or “black/white” or other polarizing issues that we are all pushed into by (alleged) “leaders” of our nation or states or towns, are really all irrelevant. What MOST people want is to work hard, be treated fairly and respectfully, and have an opportunity to get ahead for themselves—but ESPECIALLY for their children.

I propose a “dimmer switch” discussion that adjusts to meet our country’s needs. REALLY do we have to have “Social Darwinism” with Romney/Ryan or “Government Fixes All” with Obama/ Biden? Couldn’t we have a balanced approach with focus and fairness on Jobs and securing basic air, water, food, and shelter (Maslow’s four basic needs of humans) in a Country that purports to be “The Best” ever?

When we risk putting our elderly, our children, and our ill—the most vulnerable— in insecurity and danger, we “whore” ourselves to ANY value that is expedient and that is based solely on a flawed monetary value system.

Here is a summary of where the Project is at this Moment:
a) I’ve partnered with the Coruway Film Institute, a highly respected non-profit production studio (Portsmouth, NH) that is editing Momentary Times into four initial (1/2 hour) television pilots for a proposed series that will stay timely and focused.
b) The documentary is being built around three potential story lines and is being edited by Coruway along with interns and other collaborative studio partners (the documentary is a larger “beast” to fine tune)
c) A respected and highly experienced NH grant writer has been busy finding appropriate resources through NH Charitable Foundation and art/ film assets
d) A business Director is working with me to organize a “road trip” of fundraisers through New England theatres, with a 90-minute live program of film that is edited along with live stage Q & A with Dan on a Conversation of Ideas to help end Homelessness in America.
e) Every single day I have at least 100 people reminding me that “failure is NOT an option” as Momentary Times will give THEM a voice they currently don’t have. I learn every day.

There is rarely a day that goes by that Momentary Times is NOT worked on; great things and wonderful accomplishments are NOT like fast food. My Faith and Passion has NOT wavered since this Project began 18 months ago. Thanks for your continued interest and support. Keep Smiling! Peace, Dan :-)

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How many Souls lost?….

4200 “Souls” nearly lost at sea with the tragic wreck earlier this month of the Costa Concordia. Fortunately, most were rescued after a terrifying few hours. They are grateful, no doubt.

By all good estimates, 675,000 “Souls” are Lost at Sea each and every night in America, that being the number of homeless children, elderly, physically and mentally ill, with families consisting of nearly half of these numbers.

675,000 EACH NIGHT in America, or the equivalent of over 160 Costa Concordia/ Titanic-like shipwrecks occurring EACH NIGHT; how would the news media even stay caught up with the stories?

And yet…. here they are- right in front of us. Not “terrified” as those luxury liner passengers (with million dollar lawsuits upcoming no doubt) were for a few hours… but hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly- while the “good Leaders” of our Country pass over them as if they were trash.

Will Carnival Cruise Lines, the parent company of the ship, be allowed 160 such NIGHTLY tragedies to occur on their watch? Of course not—Why…we are OUTRAGED with even a single event as the suffering 4200 passengers on the Costa Concordia!

675,000 EACH NIGHT Homeless in America. This isn’t going away soon, and the Captains have ALL left their ships for lifeboats LONG ago.

Shame on them. Shame on us for NOT holding them accountable.
Watch those icebergs now!….

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Oh!…Remember Year 2011…

2011 Children and Families

Before Wisconsin Teacher Unions Battled with Politicians, before Occupy, before another 2.6 million people slipped into Poverty (for a total of 46.2 million- highest ever on record in USA), Momentary Times was launched.

With a simple idea- that the concept of basic air, water, food, AND shelter should be re-affirmed as a basic “right” and not viewed as an “entitlement” for Americans (well, actually the World, for that matter- but let’s start with USA).

The Goal of producing a Documentary Film that is funny, irreverent, respectful and educational, is right on target. My own impatient and human timetable of how long it should take, hasn’t squared with the reality of actual Production, so the only measure of sanity that grounds me as I chip away at this Project (and hundreds of thousands of more people have become homeless in 2011) is this:

I hopped in a car on February 1, 2011, taking a 4 month unpaid sabbatical, traveling cross country and filming all varied voices of the issue, seeking answers, listening to ideas and solutions, and learning things all over again that I had thought I’d already known.

I’ve entered into the Film World, brushing elbows with Editors, Producers, Comedians and Celebrity Actors, and those who would seek to have this Film and Project be something it was never intended to be.

If I were to only show children, if I were to eliminate minorities, if I were to tone down the rhetoric, if I were to make it more funny, more sad, more cartoonish, more gritty, more this, less that…perhaps people would fund and throw their substantial support behind it. If only, if only…I dilute the Truth.

As if the Suffrage, Civil Rights, Special Olympics, Right of Choice, and other Injustice Movements would have been successes if the Truth had been parsed. Basic Humanity, including shelter, cannot (or should not) be negotiated away.

And the Truth is not always pretty. “Get a Job” used to be the simplified solution for a tough issue. What jobs? I love this Project. I’ve loved this Year 2011. It’s been Amazing on so many levels.

Currently, Momentary Times is being edited- one frame, one audio clip at a time. High definition digital incredible raw voices who will sing in a 90 minute finished Film in 2012. Stubborn Irishmen don’t quit. The Universe will provide- it always does.

Through it all, I’ve been able to work coast-to-coast at agencies I highly respect- Share, Inc on the west coast (Director of two family shelters and Hunger Response Director) and on my (current) job on east coast as Director of Operations at Cross Roads House. Day in and Day out, I’ve been humbled and blessed to work with my heroes- the families, children, and individuals who are currently shelterless…and the Staff who surrounds them to give them Hope, when sometimes buildings, monies, resources, or smiles are scarce or non-existent.

In 2011, I still have the best circle of family and friends (even some new ones) that any one person truly deserves. I have my health, the two best friends/kids in the World, and basic air, water, food, AND shelter.

Best of all, I still have the Dream intact. Momentary Times will become a reality, and begin to start a REAL conversation to help end Homelessness in America. Thanks 2011—you been berry, berry good… to me.

Please keep the Homeless in your daily thoughts…and Keep on Believing!
With Peace and Love, Dan :-)

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“Act with kindness, but do not expect gratitude…”

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer

Before Wisconsin Teacher Unions battling politicians- and the subsequent marches on state capitals- before the very first “Occupy” Movement and now- even before the first inevitable violent slaughter that will occur in some obscure or plainly foreseeable way, there was an idea to give voice to those who are “shadows” of our society- in Good Times or Not-So-Good financial Times.

Momentary Times was filmed in 100 Days in early 2011 and is now in the post-production phase (which is a surreal suspension of a logical or efficient time frame). It is akin to a Thanksgiving Dinner feast that takes a year, when my OWN impulses shout out for a fast food solution.

I know THIS “feast” of a quality completed film will be worth the wait for the millions we expect to be treated to it; there will be pie as well ! :-)

I just left 100 homeless people, who were laughing, grateful, and surrounded by a Community that wraps their collective arms around them with food, blankets, invitations for dinner at restaurants, and in my current town (Portsmouth, NH) an amazing building built two years ago with the respect and thought that people can sleep safely, securely, receive medical and dental help weekly, and be provided with resources that gives them “the oxygen of life” when they are most vulnerable and “gasping for air.”

Since Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others,” I will offer this humble acknowledgement on the annual holiday of “thanks-giving” in our great Country: Personally, I am the luckiest Man in the World. Truly, I have been blessed in ways that seem glutenous at times: Parents, Relatives, Family and Friends, Work and Housing Opportunities, Physical and Mental Health, Amazing and Healthy Children, a vehicle that usually starts in the morning (even the cold dawns), and a Sense of Humor and a Profound Faith that rarely leaves my focus.

The people who are without shelter or secure housing are my Heroes. They display incredible Courage on a weekly, daily, and usually hourly basis.

Thank YOU for being a Part of this Journey- just by reading this.

Thank you for believing that we can help Change the World, in a funny, educational, peaceful, relevant, and profound way. Join me in the pure atmosphere of gratitude-For Life. Blessings on your Journey.

As the Anniversary of the death of a Man (President John F. Kennedy) that helped shape this country for my entire life has just passed, I am reminded of his quote today: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Another President (Teddy Roosevelt) assures us in these tough economic and social times, “Do What you can, with What you have, Where you are.”

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson-
I understand this.
I also believe in this quote: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward-

So…With sincere Peace and Love at this Momentary Time right now. Y’all ROCK!

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Perspective from Sea…

"We're all in this Together....Alone." -Lily Tomlin-


For most of us, we’re able to find a large rock of stability in our lives, when high tide starts lapping unexpectedly at our feet.

We scamper while laughing at the foamy salt water nipping at our feet. We pause to breathe in the scenery, balancing ourselves on a scenic perch of an ocean side bench, a cup of coffee with a family member or friend, a restaurant or pub visit, taking in a movie or theatre or ballgame, or any many other “buoys” we may take for granted.

For five million members of our Communities, including 1.5 million children, the force of the sea swallows up the most vulnerable in our midst. Shelters provide a small chance for these folks to hang onto and perhaps catch their breath; like Rose and Jack at the end of the Titanic movie, some are able to hang onto a sliver of whatever floats by, while others give all they have and eventually slide off and perish in the depths of the ocean of Life.

Today I saw 80 such people at work- one was a young man who was healthy and working 60 days ago, when he took his young son to a baseball game. When a fly ball came his way, this Dad tried to catch the ball for his son, fell over the rail, and broke both…..his heels. Did you know you could break heels? Both at once? Causing you to lose your job (with no health insurance) and sit in a wheelchair for six months?…in a shelter as you have no income? Me neither.

A 75 year old man, who reminds me of my own Dad when it was time for a haircut of his white locks, served and protected our Country for many years in the service. With no family around now, and no money for assisted living or a senior community center, wanders the shelter looking for meaning in Life. He wants to help arrange the bicycles on the bike rack, pick up debris that floats onto the property from the roadway, seeking only dignity, respect, and value in the years he has left- mingling for now with others struggling to catch a breath in the ocean depths.

A young Mom struggles to move things into a van that rattles, hoping to move her children’s and her belongings to their humble transitional home before the kids get out of child care. She wants to surprise them. Exhausted, she finds a small rock at the edge of the shelter to sit and cry. Joy and the gasping for air share the same inhale and exhale. She gets whatever help is available, but there’s never enough. She gathers herself, wipes her tears away, and goes back to the small space she’s had for three months in the family wing of the shelter, summoning all her strength to gather toys and groceries and hoping to leave behind the anxiety that living in the depths of the ocean can bring.

I am thankful and grateful. I sit by choice with a calming cup of coffee on the edge of the beach, watching a beautiful sunrise and breathing in the health of a beautiful Life.

Then I drive my car ten minutes to a large rock in the middle of the raging ocean waves and watch as the most heroic population I know tries to stay afloat and climb on the rock for a single night, a week, perhaps a month…before swimming away in search of their own stability and permanent bench by the calming sea. Their stories will be told in film. People need to know.

Be grateful today. You are Blessed if you are reading this.

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Musical Chairs on the Titanic…

The more things change, the more they remain the same...

When I talked with Sandie in NH this past Winter, she openly and honestly told of the time when she was a young single Mom at 24 and “but for some help from the state and my Mom for a year, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Now, Sandie- who has been gainfully employed for a quarter of a century, watches as her daughter struggles to survive with two young children, no jobs available, and the harsh reality of fuel bills and a tanked national economy on the horizon.

In the Pacific Northwest, social service agencies have been given the unenviable choice of watching while the states cut out financial assistance for people in need (the paltry $197 month in cash assistance to disabled people becomes exactly ZERO dollars and ZERO cents effective November 1st). Agencies are stepping up to “rescue” this situation by agreeing to help administer about 40% of the past year’s funds to those in need.

Where 700+ people in 2010 (Clark County, WA area) were getting the $197 per month (Wow!…) there will only be enough to serve about 333 people on a “first come, first serve” basis that leaves the slow walkers to the gate with NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. This is happening all across the Country.

This includes the elderly, Veterans, and displaced workers, among others.

Agencies stepping up to help will no doubt be vilified by the government when their “set up for failure” processes fall short; not only do these silly “solutions” by state and federal agencies not help solve the problems, they exacerbate the issues as well.

Not satisfied in merely shuffling the deck chairs on the metaphoric Titanic, the idiotic powers-that-be are actually ELIMINATING 2/3 of the chairs for folks unable to swim the upcoming cold waters of the US economy.

Celine Dion’s Heart may go on, but let’s brace ourselves for many Souls about to be lost at sea….

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Benevolently Irrational

The Film is right on schedule.

Homeless at seven years old in the Pacific Northwest...

When I began this Project, I was told “It’s a Process” and that, although in THEORY it should be easy to get completed, the reality is that on anything “worthwhile” forces will usually materialize to act as barriers to slow down what SHOULD be an easy gig!

My impatience is a double-edged sword, both a blessing and a curse. I had my own “schedule” based on what is practical, efficient, and seemingly “do-able.”

The Film is right on schedule- just not mine. More on the schedule of what creative folks told me early on—that if you have something unique, worthwhile, and controversial, that somewhere along the Path, there will be naysayers telling me to be “more realistic, why bother, be responsible, relax, it’ll never work.”

The concept of the Film is seemingly Simple; to start a conversation to END Homelessness, in a candid, humorous, and emotionally riveting manner that has answers and opinions on all sides of the issue. With all sides of the issue included.

I have been reminded how afraid the topic makes people feel. When folks stop to hear that nearly ALL of their preconceived notions of the issue are fallible and wrong. When told that 40% of homeless are families, children, teens, and when faced with research that identifies 80% of substance addiction is related to childhood sexual abuse. Try introducing THAT concept to a group of drunk patrons (lower end and higher end alcoholic beverages included) and watch the resistance and walls go up.

When the economy is SO fragile, that understandably afraid people cling to what they “have” in terms of materialistic shields, judging the neediest of the needy (average age 9 years old of homeless in America) in order to delusionally protect what little they may have- until an accident, an illness, or a life-changing event brings them to their metaphorical knees.

As a child, I always wondered what white people were afraid of when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke. Why is “Peace” so scary? It seemed like such a simple and inclusive concept. Certainly nothing to shoot a Man in the head over, is it?

We talk about governments, politics, wars, big business, and those in power as being the cause of things that aren’t right. But really? We have the ability to make Change if we want it. We just have to want it bad enough.

So many of us are afraid to color outside the lines. We rant at those who do. I heard the phrase “Benevolently Irrational” the other day, and have decided to embrace it. It’s a better phrase than the condescending “naive, foolish, why bother, have you got it out of your system, not financially responsible project, nutty, crazed, it’ll never happen” comments I’ve received this Summer.

In a country of 300 million Americans, we CAN do a better job with helping to make sure that 5 million people (including 1.5 million of our children) have basic air, water, food, AND shelter. Should that scare anyone?

Boo!

A new Path has begun to embrace- no shortcuts- the Process of completing this valuable Project and Film. It will happen when the right people step forward as I take it to them. Editing 60-70 hours of high definition, digital honesty into a 90 minute conversation that will educate and bring ideas to the surface? Ain’t no big thaaaannnnggg. Time. Just time. And an adjustment to the proper “schedule” that is reality.

This country has amazing people….they will arrive soon. I believe that. The Journey is 90% of the Fun! Adjustments have begun. Momentary Times is moving forward.

Keep Smiling….. and Peace!

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Quilts Teach Lessons…

Individual, personal, unique, special, and colorful...quilts as well!

Each August, we receive about 400 Quilts that have each been patiently and lovingly made by complete strangers to those who will receive them. Mostly senior citizens meet nearly every Monday night throughout the year, at their fellowship hall, to humbly, quietly, and consistently contribute their sense of compassion and caring to the neediest of the needy in our community.

Their biggest “flash” of grandeur? Inviting us for a delicious potluck as their guests to view the tables full of quilts they’ve saved to present to us.

It’s a powerful reminder each year on this evening (my fourth year) to pause, be quiet, and feel the unconditional presence of a love for fellow human beings, that supersedes most things I see throughout the year by miles. There are no showboats, no individual quilter showcasing or waving their “best” quilt. As a group and as a person, this gathering is anonymous in its totality.

The quilts are given to children when they leave the shelter, on their way to their new home, usually a subsidized and transitional two-year apartment. A fresh start. There are few things better than seeing the children- their ages never really seem to matter- as they peruse our linen room stacked with quilts on the shelves.

A quilt for each child and adult.

Like bright colored presents under a Christmas tree, they carefully look through all of the quilts, until they “bond” with just the right one, the one seemingly made just for them. They invariably hold onto the quilt in the drive away from the shelter, keeping it close to them and separate from the bags and boxes of limited possessions and clothes they have been able to hang onto throughout their ordeals.

Quilts are Love. Quilts are New Beginnings. Quilts are Family. Quilts are Home.

The recipients will never know the diligence, sacrifice, and commitment made by the anonymous weekly quilters who have made the gifts possible. But it is a transcendent experience, because there’s no doubt that between the stitching and the patchwork, that a generous amount of Kindness and Love were added to each quilt.

A few words about our programs, and about how much the quilts mean to our residents, and the aging group gets up- a few with walkers or canes and aging backs ignored- to help us load the SUVs and cars we have brought, to take them back to the shelters.

Heading to their new homes soon...

The Hall empties out, the lights are dimmed and doors locked, and the parking lot clears quickly. It’s quiet on a hot August night. Quiet with dignity and humble humanity that has just washed over me with the presence of people who teach me the definition of genuine care.

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Nero and the Lyre…

The phrase, “Nero fiddled while Rome burnt” is impossible.

Last month hiding wide in the open...

The Great Fire of 62 AD would be going on without a fiddle available until the invention of it in the 16th Century. Maybe Nero had a lyre. Maybe he was a liar and really set the fire, but maybe his enemies were jealous and blame Nero for the devastating fire.

The “Yes We Can” Man went whining about the economy again this week. “Not my fault- I inherited it.” The equally impotent clowns in the senate and house chambers pointed fingers, wrung their hands, and watched the stock market graphs make more moves than a Hawaiian hula dancer.

Is there an ADULT in any room in D.C. ? Momentary Times is not based on any religious or political agenda…HOWEVER there are times when the idiocy of many moments calls for people to stand up and cry aloud, “The Emperor(s) have no clothes.”

Futile? Perhaps. Until it happens nation or world wide. Then we will ask and whine as well, “Who was asleep at the wheel?” We all were. All of us. Sometimes I secretly wish for a seismic plummet of the stock market…say- down to the number “Zero.”

Will people THEN, FINALLY, AT LAST…speak up for the most vulnerable of the vulnerable in our communities- the homeless? I wonder- what WILL it take? This is Madness that continues from crisis-to-crisis. Incredible. Simply incredible.

The thought of making a Film to help end homelessness appears “crazy” to most. Why bother? Why try? How can you think it might help? My retort is always, “How can you think it could make things any worse?!”

Hope Springs Eternal

There are small children, babies, and elderly sleeping outside in bushes, gatherings, broken cars, and alleyways tonight and every night in America. Senators and Presidents making hundreds of thousands of dollars of our taxpayer money THREATEN to cut the meager aid to these people in need month-in and month-out whenever a political issue comes up.

They are bullies. P.A.s is what I call them. Punk-Asses. They are illegitimate “leaders” of mostly very wonderful and hard working people in this country. I can’t dismantle the government (believe me, I would if I could) but I can do something…

I can shame them with humor, honesty, and truths exposed on Film. Another option is to make a Film 40 years from now, as they did with the Civil Rights Era, showing gross injustices from a rear view mirror perspective.

Now THAT….knowing what we know currently…WOULD be “crazy.”

Nero may have HAD a lyre, but most certainly, those “in charge” are indeed LIARS.
But we shall move forward tomorrow….because as the quote states:

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope” (Alexandre Dumas Pere)

Heroes struggling day in and day out...

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What will we say to them?…

How will we as America and community look them in the eye?...

Ten minutes from where I live, in the bustling city of Portland, Oregon, a few courageous families told me, “I want people to know.” Know what?… the true faces of America’s homeless, including their own children.

YOU explain it to her, okay?....

While we have this weekend to barbecue, jet ski, drink, travel, yell at our giant flat screen television sets at major league baseball players, and bemoan the fact that our “leaders” are AWOL (just when you think they CAN’T screw up anymore, there comes a new crisis like the “debt ceiling…” aye yi yi) many—like the children pictured here, cling to a daily existence of homelessness that we can never imagine.

This post isn’t to make anybody feel guilty. Really, it isn’t. It’s just that this whole homelessness thing, with the average age being NINE (9) years old in America, is STOOPID. Truly STOOPID. We need to make a Change and a Statement NOW!

Homeless at seven years old in the Pacific Northwest...

What can you do? Everybody is tight for money. My suggestion is to take an initiative to have a GROUP fundraiser, have fun with it whatever it is! Car wash, Battle of the Bands, church event, neighborhood gathering, work or celebrity connections, whatever your talents and networking can do—IF you believe that this Film can Make a Difference to educate America about the 1.5 million children homeless in America each year.

The $100,000 I was told it would take to make this Film?…well, we’re halfway there with about ten dollars in the bank currently. I am grateful for being “halfway across the lake” in this process. I am impatient to move faster. I will appear at ANY function that will help educate and raise funds to finish Momentary Times. Remember- M-F 9-5 I am Director of family homeless shelters AND Director of Children’s Hunger Initiative in our area. I need a nap after work….evenings and weekends? Sign me up!

30 Days… let’s just do it. By September 15th, let’s create a Miracle together. No individual donations- just groups. How can YOU help? Thanks for following here. Your (sometimes blind) Faith feeds the efforts to make possible the impossible.

These children are depending on us. Peace!

He wants a Voice in the Film...please help him.

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