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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

They’re Doing It as We Are talking About It

By C.Watson aka Redhorse_Ronin

A couple days ago, I was running some errands with my aging father and we stopped at local convenience store for soft drinks. It was a typical Baltimore winter day-chilly, biting blustery breeze, with bone seeping damp air. It being the eastside of the county less than 15 miles of the downtown gentrified sections of Baltimore City with impoverished crime-ridden neighborhoods characterized by hopelessness, open air drug dealing, and vacant homes and business in between, we were not surprised to see a shabbily dressed man with a 40oz can in a bag loitering. My father remarked on him being there and I mused about whether he might belong to the tent city that intermittently springs up behind this convenience store near the railroad in a copse of wooded area.

I had watched this camp for months and at certain times was actually impressed at some of the innovations the residents went to lengths to accomplish to make the area more comfortable. I have watched this particular camp for a reason, because it is within a mile of my home and I have a child attending school at the halfway point between us. Even so, I had intended to bring some clothes and drop them off around Christmas but with an unseasonably cold snap, the camp had dissipated by the time I got there.

I can think of at least a half dozen such camps within 5 miles of my house. Baltimore is the ugly little secret that Governor Martin O’Malley chooses not to acknowledge as he positions himself for a national office, but I digress. This is indicative of how depressed, not recessed, the local economy is, despite the incongruous fact that Maryland is one of the richest per capita states in the Union. Couple this with the disproportionately high rate of government employment and the similarly high percentage of liberal democrats that monopolize this state and you have to wonder at the hypocrisy of the class warriors of the OWS and the rest of the left. Mea culpa, I digress yet again.

But I began thinking about how these disenfranchised people survive. Yes there are at least two large non-profit shelters and training programs in the same radius and yes, many of them have government entitlements and maybe even jobs, but that does not take away from the fact that they are living in modern day Hoover-villes with tents, shanties, and anything else they can scrounge. Maryland is far enough north to have some brutal winter weather that is as unpredictable as any weather can be in the Mid-Atlantic.

I wonder what lessons we could learn from these souls who are braving the elements and living outside more often than they are under a roof. Obviously these people are transient and move about on public transportation but they move about on foot, as well. These are the people that will have an advantage in a collapse. They know where the best dumpster diving is. They know the best routes to get around expeditiously and surreptitiously. They know how to engineer scrounged materials into life saving and life improving devices. In short, we can learn a lot from the actual actions of the homeless.

I am seriously considering trying to befriend some of these people and to see if I can learn some valuable lessons on urban and blue-collar suburban survival. I am curious as to what motivates them but I am more curious as to how they live.

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