Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Search


Here's an easy way to help raise money for Iraqi children with heart disease. All you have to do is start using GOODSEARCH as your search engine.

Simply go to http://goodsearch.com.

It will ask you, "Who do you GOODSEARCH for?"

You say, "The Preemptive Love Coalition."

Then you start searching as usual! Every time you use GOODSEARCH they'll donate money to The Preemptive Love Coalition. We've had it for a couple days now and already have a dollar. That's small considering just a few know about it. If we all start using it, we could easily fund a heart surgery within a year simply by doing what we do every day!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's With The Drawing?

A few people have asked me about the new drawing on the heading of my blog. It was drawn by an artist named "Banksy." Nobody really knows anything about him, people just speculate. Some say he was born in 1974 near Bristol. Apparently he was learning how to be a butcher until they had the big aerosol boom in the late 1980's and then he began his art career.

His graffiti has appeared in cities all over the world but nobody has ever caught him. Most of his art is so talented and thought provoking that the city protects it from being painted over and some have even sold walls that he's put graffiti on.

Anyways, this drawing by him was supposed to represent Jesus if he lived today. It hits home with me because I think that most days we wouldn't even recognize Jesus. He'd be an outcast; he'd be houseless, and as much as we might love and respect him, few would want to be like him.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a city that I've grown up next to my whole life. It was always viewed as an escape. Most adults wished they lived there and all the kids wished they were there on the weekends. It's one of the most beautiful places on Earth and attracts people from all different ways of life. It's got everything you could want but by the time Santa Barbara is done wooing you, it's so easy to ignore the other sides of the city. The beaches drown out the weapon manufacturers in Santa Barbara that have supplied people like the Turks with everything they needed to annihilate the Kurds in Eastern Turkey. The cars and restaurants keep you from noticing the thousands of people living on the streets.

Mandate has been a great stepping stone for us as I'm trying to figure out ways to engage our friends without houses in Santa Barbara.

("We're not homeless. We just don't have houses." - Gator, a man without a house in SB)

Santa Barbara is working on implementing a 10 year action plan, called Bringing Our Community Home, which is "focusing on ending chronic homelessness." "We can not continue along the same path of managing chronic homelessness; instead, we must change course and eradicate chronic homelessness by implementing Bringing our Community Home, which will move people away from the revolving doors of jail time, emergency room care, temporary shelters and crisis centers into permanent supportive housing and sufficiency."

It's a 160 page document that I'm slowly trying to understand. In the meantime I'm learning that each year more than 6,300 people in Santa Barbara experience homelessness; on any given night, over 4,000 people are homeless. Out of this number, close to 1,000 are chronically homeless. Many of these people have serious mental illnesses. Two-thirds of all people with mental illness have been homeless or have been at risk of being homeless at some point in their lives. Most of these people end up on the street because their neighbors help get them evicted or because they are unstable and present a threat to those around them. If they miss any payments or neglect house keeping then they're out on the street.

Santa Barbara's working on coming up with a program that will engage every homeless person and find a place for them back in society. Not only is this our God-given mandate but it simply makes sense from every perspective, including a financial perspective.

I spent the past couple days and night with my friends without houses in Santa Barbara, just trying to get to know them better and understand what they go through. I can list a hundred reasons why me spending the night with them isn't the same as being in their shoes, but it's a step closer.

It was a powerful time that I'm still trying to think through and there's still so many things I don't even know how to begin understanding.

It started out with me and Screaming Eagle, who's real name is James, a full blooded Apache Vietnam vet who makes his money by selling hand made jewelry. Out of his entire unit of about 200 Apaches that went to fight in Vietnam, only 3 came back. We spent the first half of the day together just talking. He did most of the talking about how hard it is for him to live on the streets. He said the hardest thing for him was not to become attached to other people on the streets. He gave me the first and last names of about six people that he got close with only to find out that they had either been killed or jumped out in front of the train the next day. James is an alcoholic and he'll be the first to admit it. He doesn't want to be one but he said there's literally no other way you can fall asleep at night. The only other option is to not drink and as a result not sleep and then slowly lose your mind because of a lack of rest. He doesn't want to lose his mind, so he drinks.

We talked until it got cold and dark and then James and I, along with a 32 year old named Greg went and found a place to sleep. We couldn't sleep in the park because either the sprinklers would get you wet or the cops would come give you a ticket and make you move. There was a two foot wall that runs alongside the beach that we all snuggled up to. They said this was the best place because the cops couldn't see you from the street. Everybody had some sort of sleeping bag but about half way through the night it started to get soaked because of the condensation. James woke up at around 4 o'clock and started to vomit. He warned me he would do this. He put vomiting, coughing, and shaking in his morning routine. He said he'd be OK as long as he got a beer soon. He walked out to the park and found a place under a tree to sit. He started to shake pretty bad until somebody finally got him a beer. His friends told me that they can barely hold him down when he starts having seizures so they have to make sure he never gets to that point.

I spent the rest of the day with several different people that were all connected in some way. There was James, Gator, Shaky, Hydro, Bruce Almighty, Cowboy, Johnny, Greg, Paula, Nancy, Batman, Derek, Damen, and so many others. All ended up on the street because of different reasons. Some could barely pay the bills and then they broke a bone and couldn't work anymore so that put them out on the street. Another had his "Daddy" kill himself and sister die all within a few months and he never could recover from it. Others gave their home and belongings to their kids and they just moved out on the street. Some of them have jobs to make money. Like James, some make art, others fish, some mend nets on the dock, recycle cans, deliver live crabs to the Asian Market in Los Angeles and others just ask for money.

They all sat in the park for most of the day playing one card game after another while they traded books and magazines to read. Whenever one got money, he would go out and see what he could get "us." They rarely used the word "me" when they talked because they were all committed to helping each other out. If they got some change, they'd throw it on "the table" which just meant it was for the community. When enough change was gathered, one would go down to 7-11 to get whatever they needed. If one brought back a hot dog, he would pass it around so everybody could have a bite and then he'd take a bite and they'd all pretend they were full. They had a community bag of tobacco which actually belonged to James but you never would have known. He would collect all of the cigarette butts and salvage the remaining tobacco until he had a whole tin full of tobacco that he could roll up. Shaky had another tin that was full of the little alluminum tabs on the tops of cans. They all gave their tabs to him and he would save them for this charity downtown that recycled them to help children with Lukemia.

As the day went on they all started talking about the free meal they'd get that night. They talked about their favorite soups and how they couldn't wait to get their "stomachs and hearts full."

Right before the meal was served, Shaky and Gator got caught by the police for having a beer. He poured it out in front of them and told them they had to leave for 24 hours and pay the 175 dollar ticket. If they don't pay that then they'll go to jail for 90 days. They were very respectful to the cop but they crumpled up the ticket knowing there was no way they could pay it. Now they just have to wait one more month before the police comes to pick them up. That set everybody on the edge though as they all came back with similar stories. They all agreed that the police were making a sweep of the entire city and so they all said they were sleeping someplace new that night.

It was a good couple of days that didn't really resolve in any way but definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things. I'm working on coming up with a simulation for junior high and high school students where I take them down and we sleep on the streets and try to understand what life is like for an average of 4,000 people in Santa Barbara each night. Trying to understand it may be far fetched but I hope that we at least learn how to love.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back in California



I got back late last Thursday night from a week in Ohio where I spent several days with old friends I haven't seen since I graduated college. Going into this week, I was pretty excited to see them but I didn't realize until I got there how much I needed to see them. They reminded me of how sweet community can be and how badly I miss having them around. They're all over the world now and it's an honor to know them. They're loved and missed.

Michelle and I also had a great deal of time to talk to people about PLC. We literally went from meeting to meeting for three days straight. By the end of the week we were both exhausted but we wouldn't have traded that for the world. Cedarville University decided to focus on our non-profit this year as they seek to raise awareness and money for these children. They committed to funding five heart surgeries by the middle of the second semester!

We also met with some professors at Ohio University and they're looking forward to dedicating their business classes to help out our non-profit with strategy and marketing. That will start second semester and last several weeks. We're excited to see what they come up with!

We met with some leaders at Apex, a network of 65 house churches in the Miami Valley. One house church I went to is focusing solely on reaching out to Muslims and it turned out they were all doctors or nurses that want to be involved with helping these kids in some way or another. They're working on tracking down medical equipment for us and even tossed around the idea of traveling to Iraq to see what they can do.

The Coalition continues to grow.

Be sure to check out our new internet site here. If you're at a Borders or Barnes and Noble, be sure to pick up the latest issue of "GOOD Magazine". GOOD has quickly become one of my favorite publications and we're grateful they're highlighting us in their Market section.

The video up top was just completed by Michael Dalton, a videographer who's actually making a trip out to Iraq next month with another photographer to document the lives of these children.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ohio

Michelle and I are in the Columbus airport right now waiting on some college friends to come pick us up. We were flown out here for a reunion that I'm thrilled to be at! We'll be out here for a week and we're also hoping on making a lot of progress in promoting PLC on a couple universities and communities in the area.

We're going to meeting up with some campus leaders and hopefully getting in some class rooms as well. We're also meeting up with some business profs at Ohio University to discuss their "cluster program", which is a group of courses that they want to designate to our non-profit in order to make us more effective at what we're doing. We'll hopefully be having some meetings with some Muslim leaders in the surrounding cities as well.

It's exciting to have school back in full swing. We're excited about a social justice group from Baylor university that's leading a campaign to fund a heart surgeries and there's a good possibility we may mimic what they're doing on UCLA's campus and Azusa Pacific.

We also have a new website that just had a "soft launch" this week. We're anxious to unveil it to all of you guys in the next few days!