Important & Ready

Whether you are trying to make change within yourself, your organization, or your community there are two critical success factors that must be addressed if you are going to achieve what you set out to achieve. The first is whether or not people feel the change is important. The second is whether or not people are ready for the change. The importance of making a change is ultimately a personal decision, driven by our own values and beliefs, whether we are open to new information and methods, how we process information, and whether or not we are engaged in other ways of doing things we deem to be more important than the new proposed change. The importance of making change is not easily persuaded by logical arguments. In fact, the importance of change is felt at an emotional level. Take smokers for example. Some of the smartest people I know […] Read more »

2017 – What Will it Bring?

Welcome to the first blog of 2017. As I do every year, I want to kick off the first blog of the year with things that concern me and some hope for the year ahead.   Three things that concern me – and may concern you too… That resistance to change means not doing the right thing. Resistance is real. Star Trek would tell us it is futile. But that doesn’t seem to be true. On the one hand, people love the hypothetical of change, but go to great lengths to avoid the actions of getting there. On the other hand, there are those that – even with overwhelming data to the contrary – hold on to their views and diligently practice cognitive dissonance. When it comes down to measuring the amount of pain to the amount to be gained, person after person and organization after organization seems to struggle […] Read more »

The Best of 2016

That time of the year to look back on the highlights from the year before. There are many for us at OrgCode. So, I am focusing on those 10 things where we felt we had the greatest impact or the community really look a leap forward in ending homelessness, or events I just can’t keep smiling about when thinking about it.   Hawaii Hawaii is a beautiful place to work, but it is also struggling with homelessness in some very unique ways based upon geography, politics, and the change process overall. So what has stood out for me so much in positive ways? The first is a group called HousingASAP. With the involvement and investment of the Hawaii Community Foundation, leaders in family homelessness are working with a dedicated consultant who is awesome – Liza Culick – to transform how they lead and change. We (OrgCode) have been so fortunate […] Read more »

Depression & The Holidays

Merry…uh…Happy….hmm… If you live with depression there may be no anxiety inducing period like the holidays. In a nutshell, people want you to make the spirit bright and you may not feel like it, and then you feel even worse that you are letting other people down and destroying their holiday season. If you have a friend or loved one that lives with depression (like yours truly), some helpful tips: If we are doing restorative things, encourage it. If the person in your life living with depression is deciding to go for a walk, read a book or take a little bit of time for themselves, that does not mean they dislike you. Nor does it mean they don’t want you to be all social and carrying on with others. It’s just that they are taking care of their own needs. Love them enough to let them do what they need […] Read more »

Psst…You okay?

Sometimes I get worried about you. Yes, I am talking to you. I know you are working really hard to make this ending homelessness thing happen. I know sometimes that means you are not sleeping well and working long hours. I am also pretty sure you were the one worried about where things are going politically as it relates to this work (and America as a whole). Plus your friends and family are stressing you out a bit. I got you. Let’s do a little check up from the neck up, shall we? I have some questions to ask you, and all I ask is that you be honest with yourself as you go through them:   Are you exhausted? Are you struggling to get motivated in the morning? Are you still feeling wiped out after a weekend or even days off? Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? […] Read more »

Ending Homelessness is Simple, but It Ain’t Easy

Housing is the only known cure to homelessness. If your entire organization or community is focused on getting people out of homelessness as rapidly as possible and into housing with the supports customized by their choice and needs, then you are doing it right. If your organization or community is making people jump through hoops, being engaged in programs that they must graduate through, demonstrate “readiness” or prove that they should be housed, then you are using housing as a reward and you are doing it wrong. See, homelessness is a really simple situation to solve. If you do the right things in the right order with the right people, you get the same (positive) results over and over again – the homelessness for the person/family is ended. That doesn’t mean it is easy. First of all, it can be difficult for an organization to figure out what the right […] Read more »

Say Thank You to Your Haters

Once you find your voice and reason in life, it will be what expresses you. It becomes what you stand for, which inevitably also represents what you stand against. I am a recovering asshole. I have been inhabited by hate. I have hated. I have held others in disdain. I have been nasty. I have bullied. I have intimidated. I have shot down the dreams of others. I have pummelled people with my intellect in the hopes of feeling better about my own insecurities. I have avenged others for perceived wrongs. I know the hater, because I was one – and didn’t even have the personal insight to know it for many years.   Now, I choose to love because it is the strongest thing I can do. It proves that I reject hate, even when hated. I cannot control the hate of others. But if I am going to […] Read more »

An open letter from a faith-based volunteer to the professionals that help the homeless in the community…

This is a guest blog provided by John Horn. John is a friend and reader of the blog who works in the field of homelessness and is also a man of devout faith. He has penned this response to the Open Letter to Faith Based Organizations blog I wrote a few weeks back. I respect his opinion, input and response, and with his permission, I am posting it as the blog for this week.  Dear (insert name of said professional)… You do not approve of the homeless feeding program that my fellow church members and I provide on a weekly basis. I know this because you voiced concerns about the feeding in a news story on the program. I am sorry that my actions made you upset and that you feel that I am part of the problem – not part of the solution – to ending homelessness. Rather than complain […] Read more »

One Truly Beautiful Thing

Homelessness is human suffering. You cannot spin human suffering. But you can still decide to do one truly beautiful thing. Maybe that is once per day. Maybe once per week. Heck, maybe once a year.   If I say “do one truly beautiful thing” to most people and they think of something exceptional…outside the norm. I am not surprised when they think of charity. Beauty, in my opinion, is best when it lasts. Beauty is best when it is something deeper than how we value or turn most things we like into commodities.   We are made up of small changes, incrementally feeding into the behaviour of the person we choose to be. If you do one truly beautiful thing in those small changes, you can relate more honestly with human suffering.   Our shared humanity is our beauty. I am not better or worse than any person I serve. […] Read more »

Leading Change

The 2016 Leadership Academy in Ending Homelessness is in the books. We had another sell-out this year, with participants from three countries. Clear to me: we need to keep investing in leadership if we want to achieve complex social change. And homelessness is definitely an example of complex social change. For the participants, it was a chance to reflect on who they are as a leader. This means an examination of strengths and opportunities for growth from a very vulnerable position, getting deep into sharing with table teams that were organized in advance with a collection of people to influence and be influenced by (that they had unlikely ever met before the academy). Against the serene backdrop of West Virginia, there was also time for considerable self-reflection and increased personal awareness. Day Two allowed us to move into how we influence others and how we are influenced by others. Drawing […] Read more »

An Open Letter to the Faith-based Group that Wants to Help People that are Homeless

Dear (insert name of church, temple, synagogue, mosque, etc.), In the name of (insert deity believed in/worshipped), I understand you are called upon to help humankind as a way of living your faith and putting into practice the teachings of your religion. This is most welcome, and we are grateful that you have chosen to help people that are experiencing homelessness. I am an expert in the field of homelessness, so while it is unsolicited by you, I want to take this opportunity to fill you in on ways that would be most helpful, and the stuff you may be thinking of doing that will just get in the way of what experts are trying to achieve. If you are like me, you have been in a hospital emergency room once or more in your life. I suspect you have been frustrated with wait times and wished there was someone, […] Read more »

Museums of Suffering

The tour. You have been on one or given one. You walk through a homeless shelter or day centre or spend a night on an outreach van or a morning at a soup kitchen. You see the things that go on there. You meet the people – the program participants, residents and clientele; the staff; the volunteers. When these same buildings and programs are anchored in more traditional models rather than being focused on rapid exit from homelessness into housing they become, by definition, homelessness as a museum – objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited. People that experience longer term homelessness are more prone to die. At some point for the observer the question of why the person is homeless and how to end it becomes a question of when the person will pass away. They can become resigned to what they see as […] Read more »