Dennis Cardiff

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Author Dennis Cardiff lives in Ottawa, Canada, with his wife, two sons and two stepsons. Working in the mailroom of an international law firm allows a lot of free time for him to write and do research on the Internet.

An artist of many talents, Cardiff has been a professional portrait painter since 1972. He studied art at the Ontario College of Art, University of Saskatchewan and the University of Ottawa. As a writer, his poetry has been published in the Sheaf, the University of Saskatchewan’s newspaper, the Writing.com Anthology and an online poetry magazine, Shadowlands Express. His recent book “Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People” (book 1 of 4) was published by Karenzo Media. Books 2 and 3 are currently at tGotta Find a Home 7658782he publishers, and the 4th book of the series will be available in January 2015.

Have you always written?
In school, I always wrote extensive notes in class. I especially enjoyed subjects where I was required to do illustrations, maps or diagrams. At exam time, I could recall entire pages from my notes, especially in history.

In grade eight, I won a city-wide essay contest sponsored by the . . . (Read Full Article)

 

The Empowerment Plan

The Empowerment Plan 3

A woman came out of the shelter that I was in, and she was yelling at me — she was full-on screaming, ‘We don’t need coats! Coats are pointless! We need jobs!’”

This is how social entrepreneur Veronika Scott’s dream job was born. It started in a class she was taking in college. The project was to design something that would fulfill a need. Scott did her research at homeless shelters, and came up with a unique coat design that would turn into a fully utilized sleeping bag. It looks like a regular coat. The bThe Empowerment Plan 2ack of the coat unfolds to open up the bottom half of the sleeping bag through Velcro enclosures. When the coat isn’t in use, it folds up into a bag. For the 20,000 Detroit homeless, she thought this was a great idea.

“Really, she was completely right,” Scott posits about the angry woman at the shelter, “because a coat is just a Band-Aid for a systemic issue. And, what really would make a difference is hiring a population that would need them in the first place.”

That’s was Scott did. She hired homeless single mothers. In her startup phase, there were plenty of naysayers with discouraging The Empowerment Planstatements that homeless people will never be able to work a normal job. Scott found that to be so untrue. The women they’ve hired at The Empowerment Plan have proven to be excellent employees and many have managed to … (Read the Full Story)

Tiny Homes for the Homeless

Brian Reynold's Photo for Kloehn

Photo Credit: Brian Reynolds

There is an estimated 1,750,000 people with no place to live as of June of 2013 in the U.S. Think of how their lives would change if they had a little house to come home to every night—a place of shelter from the weather, protection from thugs on the street, and some place they could call their own. This is the dream of artist-architect Gregory Kloehn.  He builds little tiny homes for the homeless. Featured on Rachel Ray, Inside Edition and Huffinton Post, Kloehn got the idea from his own challenge to renovate a dumpster to live in. The adorable dumpster is fully functional with a kitchen, bed, potty, shower, a deck up top complete with umbrella, and an awning.

Building the dumpster kindled the joy he had as a child building his creations.  Kloehn writes,

There is a spontaneity and playfulness in making small homes that traditional houses do not offer.  It reminds me of making forts as a kid, no city planners, no architects, no crews, no bank loans, just my ideas and my hands.” His love of helping people was naturally the next step in this passion of his. He started building tiny homes for homeless people in his neighborhood.

Tiny houses are not a new concept in our culture. With real estate far out of the reach for the average person now, people are looking for alternative housing ideas. What sets this idea apart from an average tiny house is that they are given away for free to the people in our country who need the most help. Here are some thoughts from Kloehn on why he is so excited.

Tiny houses are striking a number of cords in our society. They are not just homes but fast becoming a lifestyle option. They are, usually, (but not always)  cheaper than regular homes, giving more people the opportunity of ownership. By skipping the traditional 30-year mortgage, perhaps the tiny home movement could even reshape the way we think about work and what we want to accomplish with our lives.

The tiny home movement is also embracing and mixing all forms of new and old technologies, making them hotbeds of ingenuity, creativity, and environmentalism. Small spaces means that it’s easier to power an entire house with the sun or wind, and water can be collected, used, used again and reused with simple catch and filtration systems. Even black waste can be turned into methane and/or composite for food production. From the loner in a simple tipi, to the high-tech self-contained living pod, the tiny homes have something for everyone.

Many of the tiny homes are on wheels or small enough to be moved with relative ease. I think this degree of mobility is one of the most revolutionary aspects of the tiny home movement; what if you bought or built the home you wanted, then rented the land. Your customized home could follow you wherever you needed to be. If you built a home that followed you throughout your life, I bet you would be a bit more thoughtful in your choices.

With these little houses for the homeless, portability is essential because the city will make a homeless person move every few weeks. You can see the wheels in the photo (above) from photographer Brian Reynolds.

Another perk to this tiny home project is that Kloehn is cleaning up his neighborhood by working almost exclusively with recycled materials. He uses abandon wood, bed frames, futon frames, solid doors, auto glass … anything that might work to build up a tiny house. Most of the items are found. Some of them are donated by businesses. For the parts that can’t be found through recycling, Kloehn is relying on donations from the public. He’s hoping the idea catches on so that other people will build homes for the homeless. With this idea in mind, he is willing to travel to teach workshops on how to build these for anyone who wants to help. They only take a little more than a week to construct.

It might not be a perfect solution, but one thing is certain, social entrepreneurs like Kloehn are going to have some of the answers for the problems that have been plaguing our society. It is these creative minds with a strong educational background who are going to bring back the hopes and dreams that seem to have slipped away for a great deal of people in our country. Wouldn’t it be great if Landesa could find some micro-acreage for tiny homes, and if HandUp could help with supplies, and if Kloehn’s tiny houses could be established then … maybe, just by having a place to put their heads at night,  a place to keep warm on a cold winter’s day, a little place they could call home—these forgotten people in our country wouldn’t feel so homeless anymore.