The First 100 Days….

….taught me that the message of Momentary Times is not only relevant and timely, but is a required ethical and moral imperative to continue following through on. The people that I’ve met along the way, whether they’ve been professionals, clients, or folks who feel passionate about the subject of homelessness in America, have all been gracious and forthcoming with being filmed honestly (and sometimes brutally) with interview questions.

At this point, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much high definition, digital film is stored (video and audio) but it has to be at least sixty+ hours. Added with narration, graphics, and a few quick spots in Portland, OR (95% of filming is complete) and we’re ready to begin the Second Phase of the Film- post-production.

I’ve interviewed a couple of editors, have contacts for Directors to help shape the format of the movie with me, will look for independent/ original songwriters to submit music (so no royalty fees to pay), and am putting a business proposal together to assure that the Film is financially secure to move forward to a distribution team as a finished product.

Last week, I watched the Documentary “Soundtrack for a Revolution” which, besides having great music, covers the Civil Rights era of when I was growing up. I still get ill and humiliated as an American when I watch video clips of non-violent minorities being hosed down, tear gassed, or beaten by people “in charge.”

One day, 35 years from now, I think we’ll look back (or at least my kids/ grandkids will…) at this time in history, getting ill and humiliated at the way we treat “the neediest of the needy” vulnerable, shelter-less brothers and sisters of our society.

Momentary Times doesn’t have the “luxury” of archived film footage, huge production budgets, or the look over the shoulder of multiple decades. It’s being filmed NOW- through the efforts of people who care, like YOU who are reading this now.

I attended a Film Expo last Saturday in L.A. on way back to Portland, OR and learned that, statistically, a “celebrity” who is attached to any Film project (narrator or endorser, etc.) will JUMP to the top of any accepted pile of Films. The message is clear and honorable- Homlessness is STOOPID and needs to end NOW.

I’m asking The Universe to send me a “big name” to do at least voice support to Momentary Times, to help capture the attention of others who will help in this arena. Do YOU know someone who may be interested in a short cameo or audio contribution? Contact information is on this website.

Now that I’m “off the road” I’ll be able to update this site more often. Thanks for your ongoing support. WE…can do this Together!…with peace and love, Dan :-)

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In the Industrial Age, and the ensuing brilliance of remarkable men like Henry Ford, we created a once strong and viable economic structure- for awhile.

The human spirit, as a collective of Americans, can do many things and accomplish whatever we set our minds to as a unified society. Everybody can do something; we are NOT clones however, We all have strengths and weaknesses.

People like Kayla, and others caught at vulnerable moments in time, are my heroes. Against great odds, history, past barriers (some of which most of us can barely imagine), they move forward. They are seeking their “niche” in a factory-line society that isn’t necessarily open to those who can contribute 25 hours, or 30 hours, or maybe even 12 hours a week. Who cares?

Most all of us “present (appear) well”; what is behind the facade that wires us all differently- for better and worse” that makes us the remarkable human beings we all are.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. For Kayla, as well. And leave the damnable money issue out of the discussion, okay? :-) Some people take more time.

We are a great Country. We’ll make it Happen.

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David The Dad

David was part of the 35% work force laid off where he had been employed full time for many years. Heat, electricity, even providing food becomes a struggle for parents taking care of their children.

With a wife and the stresses that financial insecurities bring to a relationship, David as a Father continually faces more limited choices- Keep his Family together or toss his children “safely to shore” while he swims with the sharks.

America can and SHOULD do better than this. It must.

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10 Weeks Old Olivia!….

Each year, in America, 1.5 million children are homeless.
This is about a third of ALL homeless.
Wanna talk politics? Explain it to Olivia here, please.

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Outside the Proverbial Box…

Beautiful Solutions?

After any extended period of time that people spend focused on a mainly myopic routine, it’s always good and healthy to “step away” for a fresh perspective.

It’s no different for me. For 24 hours this weekend, I went on a road trip with an old friend to the beach, where he and his wife have bought a small retirement cottage they will move to in a couple of years. Discussions on paint, windows, energy audits, garden plans, transitions, coffee shops, and exploring out-of-the-way places with no real timetable were the only agendas for us.

We came upon an area tucked away from the main route that had lighthouses, beaches (private and public) hawks flying within feet of us, granite piers that led to forever, and crashing ocean waves that splashed around us on a sunshiny day.

Oh!…and Mansions. AWESOME Mansions. Gorgeous private homes that reminded me how fun Capitalism is (REALLY!…) and how splendid Life can be. The massive house pictured above (only a small portion shown here) made me gasp and yelp in humor, “Holy Shmolly- that ONE house on it’s own can end Homelessness!…”

Capitalism has always driven me to some extent. I happen to think that it’s okay and fun and healthy to want shiny toys for Christmas or to want better things or to want to help kids, friends, family members out. There’s this idea of extremes that some folks think that Life should either be excessively and obnoxiously greed-driven, or… sadly and depressingly “without” anything joyful out of guilt that ALL don’t have EVERYTHING in splendor.

The two economic realities and thoughts need not be mutually exclusive. People can work hard and want more and get more in terms of materialism. We shouldn’t begrudge anyone that. This is America. This is Choice. This is Capitalism at its Finest.

Still, our Country has vulnerable people that can’t or choose NOT to step on the ever-accelerating treadmill of the money chase. As Americans, they may Choose simplicity, a way of Life that rewards them in non-materialistic ways (arts, spirituality, community service, etc.) that should be appreciated. This is America. This is Choice. This is Non-Capitalism at its Finest.

Both sides can co-exist. Without one side or philosophy punitively taking away from the other side. Let’s all agree that we should have Values in America OTHER than just making money for the sake of making money. That ALL of us deserve and are entitled to (by legal, ethical, moral standards) basic (safe and secure) air, water, food, and shelter.

We Can Do A Better Job. No good folks, no bad folks. Pride is not Power. We can all Choose to have the America that I think most of us want. Not “hating” on what our neighbors do or don’t have, but in being humane and American enough to know that we’ve all “got each other’s backs.”

Stepping away from my own focus on the Project, filming, post-production, interviews, research, my mind was flooded with other “outside the box” ideas to ask others about. I happen to agree with John Lennon’s lyrics, “There are no problems, only solutions….” that we obviously haven’t been into effect or discovered fully yet.

When discussing possible solutions to any problem, our once-creative minds have become mired and brainwashed into the drumbeat dead-end question of, “Yeah but…how we gonna pay for this?….” I refuse to let this droning (yet understandable) question frame our potential Solutions. The Project shall be framed differently, thankyouverymuch!

For example, do we think it’s our shiny goal in our AWESOME AND GREAT America to have people without adequate air, water, food, or shelter? Yes or No. Simple Value Question. Can we do a better job? Yes or No. Simple Value Question. Now, let’s “kick butt” and follow the “slogan of the swoosh” and Just Do It!

And the house above?…wow—I just want a nap on the hammock on the gazebo to the side of the property…and an iced tea, please. BEAUTIFUL!

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Catching my breath…

Her eyes well up within two minutes and the tears begin to streak down both sides of her cheeks. She noticeably becomes embarrassed and fights to regain her composure because she wants to make a difference with the camera on and tell her story so that others can be helped.

Cheryl is assured that her tears are already telling the story that will help educate people about homelessness in America. She’s 49 and had never been homeless before two months ago.

She was enduring an abusive relationship and had adapted to that; the diagnosis of leukemia six months ago with the unbearable physical and emotional pain had made juggling the disease and the dysfunctional living arrangement impossible.

Her tears spoke of intense fear and a surging gulp of hopelessness for herself and her two elementary school-aged children.

Her flowing tears spoke of gratitude with the loudly gutteral gulps of awe for the safety and security of a loving and compassionate family shelter she has recently been sleeping soundly in. The medicine was beginning to take away the pain so she could walk and get to doctor appointments now. Her being and her World have both in a hellish spiral with small pauses to plateau.

Cheryl wants to be understood. She cries at just the notion that a small apartment may be available soon for her. “Home. My own home. A safe place. Home is everything.”

The photographer and the interviewer are both quiet. They are humbled, stuck between crying themselves and moving forward with their tasks. They are tested behind the camera with heroes like Cheryl that they meet daily.

Cheryl, and others speaking from the heart, will help Change the World. The rest of us are mere instruments in the Universe.

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Options vs Necessity…

A quiet bridge in NH

(above) A CHOICE to spend time on a beautiful Spring Day in NH, under a bridge near the river, with my Son photographing.

“Character is the sum and total of a person’s choices.” -P. B. Fitzwater-

“Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about “choices” lately and I feel grateful that I have had the luxury of making most of the choices in my Life. Not all of those choices were the correct ones; some were “correct” at the time and some became “incorrect” after circumstances changed (as in: “The only constant in Life is Change…”) Still….

…what a luxury usually taken for granted. Where I want to live, who I want to spend time with, what I choose to eat, when I choose to tell jokes or be serious. I’m in that first group (let’s call it “Group A” in honor of Sesame Street teachings…) that generally accepts responsibility for his own choices, whether good or bad. We get up to bat, analyze the situation, take a swing, and accept the consequences of a “hit” or “miss” each and every time. Sometimes we grump, but Hey! That’s Life, right? We learn and either make that same choice again, or choose “Door #2 or Door #3″ (I know, I know—I’m mixing my metaphors but HEY!…I’m CHOOSING to mix metaphors, so I’m okay with that!)

Then there’s “Group B” that has as many choices as the next person, but perceives their choices as not REALLY a choice at all. As if Life has handcuffed them to a stake and is slowly torturing and burning them over a lengthy period of time. The irony is that this Group B has the keys to the handcuffs and easily can choose different choices. “No choice” is a choice for these folks as well. The older I get, the more I get annoyed with this Group B. Like a Henny Youngman joke, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this!…” Doctor: “Well, don’t do that…” the obvious solutions seem most apparent from a perspective outside of our own humaneness.

Momentary Times is about “Group C” (okay, okay- we could probably come up with 12 other groups, or maybe all the way to “Group Z”, but YOU have things to do!…)
Group C. has limited or NO choices. Children, folks from horrendous childhoods, or wars, or domestic violence, or car accidents, or shattering financial ruin, or traumatic brain injury from a fall on the ice, or an elderly person with no assets or family, or…or…or…ANYONE vulnerable.

Group C has limited choices. Yes, perhaps along the Train of Life they may or may NOT have made a mistake (unlike those of us in Group A and B who are PERFECT, of course!…); this is a different discussion than whether ALL people should have basic air, water, food, AND SHELTER. This should NOT be a discussion among politicians or anyone else. This is God’s (well, and Maslow’s…) call. Non-negotiable. Just like women having the vote. Just like minorities having equal opportunities and eating the same place as folks with varied skin tones. Just like special needs children and adults having accommodations that provide as much Liberty and freedom and Choice as non-special needs people.

What is Choice? Research shows that 80% (EIGHTY PERCENT) of those with substance abuse addictions have been sexually abused as children. “Just say ‘No!!!’” seems like an ignorant and foolhardy approach to treatment and recovery of people who some would say just “choose” to sabotage their lives with chemicals.

Groups A and B will continue, for the most part, to have the luxury of “choice” whether we CHOOSE (clever, eh?..) to acknowledge the Choice as such, or not!

With the Power of these first two Groups, let’s start looking out for Group C, especially the 1.5 million children in USA who are homeless each year. They will benefit from it, and Groups A and B will be healthier for their contributions.

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Even now we have another “K”….

Baby Olivia- 2 months old

At WHAT point do we end this madness? With 40% of homelessness now families, including 8 week old Olivia (above), it has now become LAUGHABLE, how de-sensitized, and obscenely immoral our policies and systems are in the arena of homelessness.

I am old enough (55 today) to have listened to speeches from ALL of the “K’s” including JFK, RFK, MLK, even KKK (they had harsher tones than the first K’s mentioned, by the way…). We have had LBJ’s “War on Poverty” (no K but initials count for points here…) and now we have the federal government threatening to shut down while we bomb yet another country and THIS is our “Sputnik Moment?..” Aye yi yi….God/Allah/ Buddha/Mohammed/Jesus/Walter Cronkite—SOMEBODY stop this Madness!!

Even our latest Prez has a K in his name. K=GREAT speakers, HORRIBLE at dealing with basic civil right atrocities such as having 1.5 million children homeless each year and another 3.5 million adults. GET A JOB, OLIVIA!!!….. Holy !@#$%^&*(

End this…NOW! No 10 year plans, no surplus budget/ deficit budget/ balanced budget/ war/ peace concerns or variables. END HOMELESSNESS NOW!!

Or 8 week old Olivia will be typing this same blog 55 more years from now.

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Calculating and Hoping…

Concord, NH Rally 3-31-11

The “most vulnerable of the vulnerable” were among those at the state capital rally in Concord, NH last week. Budget cuts on a wide array of issues were being made and 5,000 people showed up to advocate for their specific agencies or causes. Mental health advocates were among the most visible.

Without taking any political (or religious) position, Momentary Times’ main focus will continue to be that something OTHER than a basic value system of “capitalism” be re-implemented into our Country’s operations. Although homelessness is the focal point of this Project, it makes sense that WHOEVER is vulnerable in our Country deserves a safety net of protection (elderly, traumatic brain injury, mental health, children, etc.) that manifests the moral value code of America.

Money and Time. The only two stresses in Life. We NEVER have enough money, do we?…UNLESS— there is another country to bomb. Like the insurance industry that grows with the inferences of “fear” oftentimes we back down when those “in the know” tell us that instead of emergency ambulances (a metaphor for safety nets) and policies that make EXCELLENT fiscal and ethical common-sense, the knee-jerk reaction is to implement the “Might makes Right” power and control systems that benefit no one except for those in position to gain more money and power.

I am embarrassed when I see news clips of the ’60′s when black children and adults are being hosed down in our cities. I’m embarrassed when the White House issues statements about Middle Eastern interventions, arguing that it’s about “oppression, poverty, and corruption” as a reason for bombing the crap out of another country.

Was this America or the Middle Eastern country they were talking about?
P.S. Yes, I love this Country. It’s badly “broken” though; we CAN do a better job.

Power and Control does NOT work in homeless shelters, it does NOT work in healthy social service agencies, corporate businesses, government operations, religious manifestations, or small business operations. This isn’t about being naive or ignorant towards certain world realities. It’s about creating policies that deal with world situations that require “force” as mere exceptions and not as a rule.

Meanwhile…. we walk daily by 1.5 million children each year who are homeless. We “don’t have enough money” to help them or the other 3.5 million people who are living their Momentary Times in despair and anguish. When DO we have “enough” money?

I listened last week to former war czar Donald Rumsfeld state (about Libya or conflicts/wars in general) that “you can never commit how much money, resources, or lives it will take to get the job done. The Mission takes what it takes.”

Ex-actly! Let’s end homeless NOW. More lives will be saved, hostages rescued, and money saved by focusing on this issue as an American Mission.

On the bright side, we’re running out of Middle Eastern countries to bomb, though! :-) And, evidently, the political season of “Re-Election Year 2012″ has officially begun. I’m calculating and hoping this Documentary gets traction and focus over the next 18 months. Timing is Everything…. stay tuned.

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A Peek at a Week…

I have been instructed to write. This isn’t a task; it’s like breathing to me. I have been a writer since birth (when my first words, “mama” and “papa” were written in yellow snow when my diaper was removed) and I consider myself a writer second only to being a Father to the two best Miracles in the World.

I have been cautious here, however. I want this Project to be LOTS of voices other than mine. It doesn’t have to be “about Dan” but about REAL people hurting.

The goal is to end homelessness. Not in a 10-year Plan, not in a 20-year Plan (because that yardstick will keep moving- TRUST me…) but in an “almost IMMEDIATE” Plan.

That would be New Year’s Eve, 2012. Less than two years away. That’s my new Goal. END homelessness before the New Year 2013 begins. I’m NOT kidding.

Pretend it’s a Middle East country we need to immediately bomb. Pretend it’s an epidemic or a terrorist attack or a serial killing spree, or the repeal of minority civil rights, or the repeal of the suffrage movement, or the end of Special Olympics and the horrid treatment that vulnerable community received until a family named Shriver came along. Pretend HOMELESSNESS consists of the MOST vulnerable people in our Community and enlist the mantra of Mother Teresa herself, who TRULY “walked the walk” in her life. “If you take time to judge people, you won’t have time to love them.”

Most people think that it’s useless to try. Why bother? Then let’s just go back to the dark ages of no votes for women, segregated restaurants, high curbed sidewalks for those in wheelchairs, no choice in vocations or careers like marriages or military. Why bother? WHY BOTHER?!?…Really? We’ll always have “it” with us?

BECAUSE…it’s the RIGHT thing to do. Duh! :-)

This is NOT brain surgery. We don’t need lasers. THAT is difficult. This is easy. Truly. A cot and warmth for 5 million of our citizens each year (including 1.5 million children) aint no BIG THANNNNGGGGG……. My rant is done…for NOW! :-)

So, I’ll write- a typical week… looks like this (using this week) of my own time:

Tuesday: Write Proposals for the three production companies I’ve met with. These include mission statements, budgets, and focus of Momentary Times. Two produce independent documentaries with a focus on “social conscienceness” and one produces half hour episode series in regional markets.

Wednesday: Meet with volunteer who is helping with data management (all the filming and audio is very cool high definition digital that makes a GREAT look and also takes time to “manage” in computers). Work with volunteer videographer as we film families (including children), case managers, and administrators at family homeless shelter. Spend three hours over hot tea with my amazing daughter (21) as we solve all the REST of the World’s problems other than homelessness.

Thursday: Will film a NH rally at the state capital of Concord (a mini-Wisconsin-like event) as the state budget has been announced. Those silly, silly children, families, and mentally ill people are S-O-L, evidently. Hand out Momentary Times business cards and hope some of the thousands of people at rally are motivated enough to e-mail me to request their voices being heard for more interviews. Perhaps most folks will be “spent” after the 12-1pm rally; perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Film (2:30pm) a few hours at Concord, NH shelter with Directors and clients. Spend rest of day there until a church arrives with hot meals for their monthly “gift” and I’ll stay and assist with this—direct service is the part I most achingly miss from my regular job on west coast. I may even partake of some “carbs” after all are done eating. Woo Hoo!

Friday: Film elderly, low-income clients in Keene, NH and those that care for them. Also, set-up meetings for next week with the already-established transitional housing people in the area, and the town officials and faith-based community members in Jaffrey, NH who are working with others on a plan for an emergency family homeless shelter.

Saturday: Work on Marketing, trying to raise the next step of funding to keep the Project rolling. I sense the importance of having film completed THIS year, before the 2012 election year, when focus and attention (timing is everything) will be paid to this issue. THIS Film is truly unique and will stand out and turn heads to make a marked difference. A 10-episode series is also an option and could be more rapidly produced (22 minute segments on each aspect of homelessness) while movie is being edited and distributed.

Saturday evening—Watch my amazing son (23) perform Improv Comedy in southern NH for the evening and drive two hours each way to see him. I’d drive ten hours each way if I had to (for either of my children). Laughing is a VERY good thing! :-)

Sunday: Spend time at the 1269 Cafe in Manchester, NH (see film clips with Jerry and others) who make miracles happen every week working with the forgotten ones. Spend time working to organize a fund raiser in April to help raise the necessary monies to fund the Project. So much to do, so little time, as I head back to west coast on May 1st (driving cross country to get MORE voices heard on video and audio).

Do my personal bills and juggle credit cards, as there’s no actual income with a 4-month “unpaid sabbatical” (details, details…lol) except through the goodness and generosity of donors. Something tells me my credit rating will dip by the time I get back to work on May 15th! Oh well, a hundred years from now, who’s to know?

Monday: Give two (hour-long) presentations at Plymouth State University on the subjects of poverty and homelessness. 8am (ouch- a 90 minute drive!) and Noon. These are abbreviated versions of my two-hour workshop (given at Washington State Conferences in 2009 and 2010) with the title of “Hospitality, Humor, and Homelessness” (an original production).
Send Production proposals out to folks, plan the upcoming week, and ALL of this is done…..

…while I “log-cabin-sit” (with three dogs) on a deserted 25-acre piece of land that was donated for my time here, by a fan of Momentary Times who I first met nearly 24 years ago. I am grateful for the place and the dogs (awake at 5:30am), wood stove, yard work, and regular maintenance/ repairs are often welcome respite from the pounding my brain takes as it ponders…..

…the complete IDIOCY of Homelessness in our great country of America in the Year 2011.

Now—STILL want me to write?…….I need your feedback. Stay well—I appreciate all that YOU do on a daily basis in your busy lives. Truly. Keep Smiling…Peace, Dan :-)

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