9.19.2005

hi everyone. i apologize about being awol. sorry. hope we haven't lost our audience.

i've been getting busy with school work again--only 9 months to go and i will be finitoed with being schooled, at least in the formal sense. unless, of course, i decide that i need to go back for a phd, and i'm pretty damn sure that that ain't gonna happen.

as some of you may know, my thesis work concerns building small, individual shelters for homeless people. my first one was a bench--a mild-mannered park bench by day, a tiny, warm, dry, safe house by night. current incarnations consist of another tiny house (no dual function to this one) made of recycled futon pieces, a series of waterproofed cardboard fridge shipping boxes with roofs, etc. etc.


anyway, i need y'all's assistance. you see, it appears most people that have asked me about my work have not shied away from giving me their honest opinion about just what they think of this idea. this is an exception to what one usually gets from one's artwork. for example, in the past, when i'm asked what i'm working on i've said: "why, i'm building a really big pipe. it works and everything." the usual response to something like this has been "well, isn't that nice." or occasionally "uhhh..okay." and then we go back to talking about something else like the price of gas or pizza.

lately, though, i've been getting no such nebulous comments. people definately have something to say about the homeless shelters. as a result of this, i've started recording these comments. since i don't want to bias you in any way, i'm not going to tell you what they say. what i do want to do, however, is ask YOU what YOU have to say about this project. don't fear: make suggestions, troubleshoot, write a poem. also, even if you include your name here on your post, i plan to only relay them anonymously when i put them up with the project. awright. that's it. i hope the instructions are clear.

thanks for sharing. keep comin' back.

10 comments:

Cate Bush said...

Walter, glad to hear you're getting settled with school. I'm thinking about your questions, and will respond when I have more time.

love,
Catherine

Alison said...

I would just like to invite lurking readers to comment here...At this point most evidence suggests that our only audience is Cate, my mom, and Megan--and occasionally Kevin O'Mara and Kenneth Burns. So all you lurkers, out yourselves!

Walter said...

that's a cute note, alison.

christiemckaskle said...

Hey Walter - Here's a random thought that occurred when I read this. What about wheels, retractable or otherwise? Sort of a homeless mobile home/cart that a person could do business/function out of in daytime, sleep in at night?
But I haven't been lurking or anything, Alison. :)
love you guys,
Christie

Little DJ said...

Ahem. Lurkers generally lurk because they don't have anything public to say at that moment. Call me "so 20th-century," but I'm still wary of making private comments in a public forum. Plus, evesdropping is wickedly more fun. ;-)

Anyhoo--my public comment re: Walter's request. I don't have "advice" per se, just a comment about the homeless benches. I've shared your project with lots of people, because I find it a) practical, useful art that serves a real need (but avoids being craft by being politicized), b) a meaningful way to acknowledge that homeless people deserve access to functional shelter that can be a part of city/civic planning and design and not a hasty after thought or something seen as only the responsibility of nonprofits or church groups, and c) a way to juxtapose daily life for homed people with the nightly life of the homeless--to make their needs for shelter present and visible in a real, tactile way, rather than herding them off to some dark, seedy section of town where they are rendered faceless and invisible and Other.

Is that what you're looking for, Biffle?

Walter said...

who is little dj? (good comments...)

Little dj said...

ask alison who i am

Jason C said...

Walter, just as short bit of background, I'm a former Cookeville resident who knew you during our former lives there. I came across this site via Allison's brother Trey.

On homeless shelters, I suppose my question is this: have you considered the aspect that these shelters might be seen as being "owned" by a single homeless individual? That is to say, a person might essentially stake out the bench/shelter as their own and consider their territory. I'm not commenting on whether this either bad or good, but I do think it is part of the social aspect that must be considered. In my opinion, an individual would likely claim one as their own and therefore I'd propose you'd be seeing one bench/shelter per individual at a time; there would be little to no sharing.

On the larger question of the project, I have to say that it sounds promising. Homelessness is a part of our culture that is constantly swept under the rug. Any attempts to alleviate it usually center around simply corralling people or moving them away from one part of town. Having some long-term solutions (such as installed shelters such as yours) and more systematic care programs seem to be a much more humane and thoughtful way of assisting our homeless neighbors. Of course, for many, this means admitting them as neighbors in the first place.

Best of luck with the thesis. Should you need any technical assistance in the realm of mechanics, I'd be happy to lend an pencil. Until then, it's back to lurking for me.

Alison said...

Biffle, I'm disappointed in you. Think it through...maybe "Little" is someone's last name: and that would mean that DJ could be the first two initials. And those initials belong to someone really smart who gets a special shout-out in the acknowledgements of Out in Public for offering such good feedback...

Walter said...

yeah, okay, alison. well, i figured it was deandre, but "little dj?" come on. what is this? the new cb? "ok, little dj, c'mon back and talk to teddy bear..."

10-4, good buddy