Dreams

This is a guest post by Lyn. Lyn is a single mother, adoptee, birth/first mother and advocate for stronger family and parenting support initiatives.

I have been dreaming. Dreaming and dreaming of creating an organization that offered empowering support for new mothers facing difficulties. I dream of a place where we have low cost housing during the pregnancy, that is drug free, homey and safe. A place where women can come and do nurturing activities like prenatal yoga, gardening, eating healthy regular meals, learning to keep a healthy sleep and wake up time, cultivating positive behaviors and growing into the mothers they hope to be for their children. I dream of this space being completely non-religious based, offering emotional support without pressure to comply with any religious creed or dogma. A space that is pro-choice and that a woman would be connected with abortion oriented counseling and services if she decided that were the path she needed. A space where spirituality can be cultivated in individuals who desire to do so with honor for their own decisions about the spiritual, ethics, what compassion means, and cultivating and growing those traits in a shared space.

I dream of a place that as women begin their parenting journey, the program works to help them get child support payments or TANF and food stamps and insurance– and provide housing for at least 6 months at an extremely low rate to allow mothers to stay at home with their children. I dream of this being a community where women can grow into caring for their infants with support from older mothers, and fellow moms, with access to mommy and baby activities to promote bonding and healthy development of mommy and baby. When women do go back to school they will be assisted to get any scholarships and government funds available to go to school, make a nominal rent payment and otherwise spend time with their child. Help with learning disabilities and executive dysfunction, life management, focusing on tasks and in person coaching with gaining skills to achieve at school would be provided. Counseling, therapeutic activities such as meditation and exercise and more would be available to help moms support their own health and work through any emotional or psychological issues they need help with. Family meal time and activities that encourage a healthy family oriented environment with play and music and dance activities for the whole family would be available.

This kind of program would of course, only be of interest to mothers who want these things for their children. But more and more people dream of giving and enriching, emotionally supportive, cognitively stimulation, developmentally appropriate, and physically healthy and nurishing environment. And it very frequently feels inaccessible to many mothers.

I dream of creating a community living space where housing cost could be reduced and through efforts of members on site many of the costs of creating and enriching environment and involved family space could be reduced making a wholesome lifestyle accessible even to those who have obstacles getting through school or making enough money to support their family in an enriching way.

I dream of an environment where a mother could work part time and still pay her bills and have time for afternoons and summer with her child. A place where there are art classes, cooking activities, robot building, engaging classes and sports and activities and arts for kids to get involved in— and women really had the ability to give their children the lives they dream of– while being able to protect allowing mothers to spend more at home time and relaxation time with their children (and simply for themselves to be more refreshed fulfilled human beings and therefore more present and available when with their children).

I dream and I dream. I have huge obstacles to ever getting through school. I have serious mental and executive function problems and daily functioning is difficult. I believe that all mothers like myself who struggle and yet wish they had more help to be the mothers they wish to be— should have better support than we have now which is therapy/meds. And that is it. Mothers need community. We need each other, to do activities with each other and to share the difficulties and the joys and to carry the hardship of the chores and getting through daily life and making good things happen for our children. Many of us struggle and stuggle in isolation and I don’t think it has to be this way. I dream of something more. I dream of the help I wish existed for me, being available for all of us who need it. And I don’t think I’m alone.

Right now, I only see Christians providing services to mothers who choose to parent children of unplanned pregnancy– or in difficult cirumstance. We need feminists who value women, who value nurturing others not simply because they are mothers but because even after becoming a mother we, as women, are still human beings. Don’t we want a world where our daughters still matter as people even after they give birth? Where society still believes their needs matter, even if in a sense a childs needs will always take a certain priority? Supported, connected, valued women, make better mothers.


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29 comments for “Dreams

  1. DoublyLinkedLists
    May 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I always like a reminder that what we have now could be so much better. This sounds like a place that would benefit from self-governance.

  2. Mxe354
    May 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Wonderful post. I’m not a parent and even I find it very inspiring. Thank you.

    This sounds like a place that would benefit from self-governance.

    *hi5*

  3. Chii Sana
    May 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I crave a community/life structured around people and _not_ the christian capitalist bubble-jungle of patriarchy. To live in a way that gives value and meaning to individual lives while empowering us to grow together.

    Thank you for sharing your dream, Lyn. I wish you all the best during your pregnancy and beyond.

  4. er
    May 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I felt really moved while reading this post. I did not realize how deeply I craved community until I had a baby; I lived in a place where I didn’t know anyone, and I was always alone. My partner is fantastic, but couples are not the future, seriously. My partner is gone a lot because of work, and I have another friend in a similar situation. We often talk about buying a house together (or a duplex perhaps), where we could easily collaborate on meals and childcare, to help each other pick up slack and deal with the incredible fragility of balance as parent. Right now I live on a small circle, where the houses are small and close together, with a common green space in the middle. I often think that if it were smaller, it would be the perfect lay-out for the kind of community you’re talking about. Everyone needs to be physically close to make these kinds of arrangements work, and we would all gain so much from them (ourselves and our kids).

    And yet. Americans are so *closed*. I don’t know if this is because we lack genuine community support/social services, or if we lack these things because we are culturally closed off. There is a SAHM on my street whose husband is also often gone, and she isolates herself, doesn’t seem to want or need any connection or help. It mystifies me, how seldom they take what is offered.

  5. Henry
    May 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I’ll donate to this if you actually do it. Tired of the internet being a place where people complain about this and that and do nothing. It’s easy to write up stories about how things should be, much harder to actually work for change.

  6. Henry
    May 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    PS: not a criticism of the OP, by any means, in case it was misunderstood as such.

  7. Alara Rogers
    May 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

    The one thing that concerns me about this is the “drug-free” part. A woman who is addicted to drugs has an illness. I don’t feel good about denying services to anyone on the basis of them having an illness, including a mental illness like drug addiction.

    I’m fine with preventing violent women and women with a history of theft from individuals (ie, not shoplifters but people who will steal from a fellow human being) from using the services, because you have to protect all the women there. But telling non-violent drug users that they are disqualified solely on the basis of their drug use, which is probably not a thing they can control at this point… that doesn’t sit right with me. I’m all in favor of providing counseling and assistance in breaking an addiction to women who want such services, and a pregnancy is a time when many women do want such services, because they want to be clean for their babies… but I wouldn’t tell women that their drug use prevents them from joining the program.

  8. Sarah
    May 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t want to rain on the parade, but I’ve read and re-read this post, trying to figure out what exactly bothers me about this. Better care for new mothers, how can you lose?

    And I think it’s the completely un-asked, un-answered question of “Who’s supposed to be providing all this?” In your dream, who funds your organization? Who’s paying for the prenatal yoga instructors and the special needs specialists and the insurance and building and maintaining of the low-cost housing, who’s guaranteeing the part time jobs (but only morning shifts and not during the summer) and the robot parts and art supplies and healthy food and dance classes?

    Who would qualify for your program? What “difficulties” would make a pregnant woman eligible? The standards you’re dreaming of vastly exceed what even relatively affluent parents can afford, let alone the middle class or the working poor; how underprivileged does a new mother have to be before your organization will provide, affordable on a part-time wage, these services that aren’t an option to anyone but the wealthiest of new moms?

    I’m all for a sense of community, and I believe we badly need some revisions to the current Mommy Culture (particularly the parts that are mutually exclusive, the parts that promote entitlement, and that deny the adulthood of women who don’t have kids of their own), but un-examined daydreaming is just that: daydreaming. If that’s what the point of this was, though, I’d like to suggest free ponies for mommy and baby and a weather-control device with weekly rainbow displays.

  9. Lyn
    May 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Yes, the drug free part is tricky, but I wanted to put that in because many women are trying to remain drug free and I think the services would go further for people who have already gone through recovery– (exiting a recovery program would make people elligable)

    Obviously in terms of money, this is a real obstacle. I have kind of dreamed of creating some portion of member generated activities—- i.e. moms can lead yoga/craft etc activities for each other.

    I’ve also really wanted to do a business model in which there was a restaurant and garden and a childcare center/family activity center that offered services for pay and the living component would reduce the cost of living for people living on site and the business would help generate some of the funds for running it.

    It’s hard for me to imagine that with so many of us who I have talked to that would like something like this– we couldnt generate some sort of co-op style project where communal efforts resulted in more accessibility of healthier opportunities.

  10. Lyn
    May 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I recognize that people are opposed to dreaming up ideas to make the world better because it requires money. However I also think that you have to start dreaming and figuring out ways to do something if you’re going to make anything happen.

    So what I mean to say is— it’s a pretty huge problem that so many families don’t have access to a healthy way of life.

    If you have a more practical solution, then please, share. I’m just saying, I don’t think we can wait for the government to fix this. I think there needs to be some grass roots efforts to change this.

  11. Mxe354
    May 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    I don’t want to rain on the parade, but I’ve read and re-read this post, trying to figure out what exactly bothers me about this…

    And I think it’s the completely un-asked, un-answered question of “Who’s supposed to be providing all this?”

    Perhaps this is an example of something that should be a social cooperative (which I think would work very nicely in an anarchic society, but I digress). I believe in change from below.

  12. Sarah
    May 21, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I think you’re underestimating the cost (not just the monetary cost, I mean the overall resources) of what you’re proposing. What you’re describing here is a charity that provides quality necessities to new mothers at drastically reduced costs so that they can provide luxuries to each other free of charge. Yes, it is a better, healthier way of life, but the reason most people (not just underprivileged young mothers) don’t already live the way your dream describes is because that way of life is very, very expensive.

    If it were a simple matter of a group of mothers teaching classes at a local learning annex for each other, there’d be no reason not to, and in fact there are several small groups like that that already exist.

    But you’re talking about housing (which requires someone to provide the actual buildings, insurance, maintenence, utilities, and security, and then operate at a loss so that these new moms can afford it on a low, part-time wage), employment and job security (which requires business owners to prioritize program moms over other employees, and to be willing to fire non-program workers when program moms come back from summer vacation, and for those non-program workers to be constantly on-call in case mom can’t make it to work that morning), insurance (which is already exorbitant for the average person, I don’t even want to know how much insurance would cost for a woman who is entitled to well-baby checkups, postpartum health and psychiatric care, and access to special needs treatment, counseling, and resources) and however many other secondary costs that go with all of those. And those are just the basic necessities!

    Your dream is a good one and full of very good, noble, wishful ideals, but you’re describing it like it can happen in a self-sufficient vacuum, and it can’t. Charging less for something doesn’t reduce how much it costs, it only means that someone else would have to pay the difference, and the difference would be beyond huge. Essentially, you’d be asking for the average donor to give money and resources, so that other people can have a low cost of living but still work less, have better health care, live in better conditions, and just enjoy an all around better quality of life, than the donor can afford for themselves.

  13. Lyn
    May 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Sarah- are you familiar with housing first homeless services? There are in fact programs that are designed to provide very efficient housing and services for homeless and I’ve worked with people running them. You CAN design rooms to be small and energy effiecient to free up resources for other services, and you CAN charge enough money for the rooms that you are providing minimal cost services. What’s more— how much is the cost of the emergency healthcare and psychiatric services for all the kids in struggling families? How much does it cost to police their criminal activities when they have to sell drugs and steal to eat?

    Of course the sort of project I’m talking about would be extremely expensive and my hope in sharing the idea was merely that anyone already interested in doing that line of work/service might get a little inspiration.

    I think there are MANY ways we could do much more than we do to support mothers- and all people in need— what is the literal cost to society of NOT doing that? Its particularly relevent to me because the more I read about the development of disease and mental illness the more and more living and family environments seem to be implicated in triggering genetic predispositions.

    I guess, for me, when my mother lived in a maternity home when she was pregnant with me and dreamed of a program that allowed to stay and helped her parent instead of leaving with only the choice to give me up. I have had so many dreams like this before I even met her, and when I was pregnant with my daughter after being sexually abused I dreamed of actually having support to parent.

    Now there IS an organization in my city that provides two years worth of supported housing for teen mothers. It’s a Christian program and I’m not sure how to work with them so I guess I just dreamed that feminist ladies might be better at this sort of thing without preaching the anti-abortion stuff and the dogma.

    Maybe some day? Or you can just get your hate on for the idea of helping others. That’s helpful too. I guess. I know for sure I will do everything in my power to do something like this— in whatever variation works. I thought it would be cool if women’s right’s peeps were into this sort of thing too, maybe I could collaberate with others into doing something like this. I also want to do a similar housing project for young adults who need help getting through school/established in work due to obstacles with functioning.

    I don’t think these ideas are really all that radical as there are programs like this out there. I think as a society we can do better. And I think even just continuing to hope and do little things towards change and make a difference. But that can take time. Why not keep the hope alive?

  14. a lawyer
    May 21, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Given a particular amount of money, charity can be broad (give a little help, but do it for lots of people) or deep (give a lot of help, but only to a few people.)

    Personally I’m biased towards breadth, because it seems inherently more fair. And it is often more efficient. Imagine that you’re giving out $100,000 in value. If you can find a thousand people with no money, it’s usually better than taking ten people and giving them tons of income. $100 is worth more to someone who has $0 than it is to someone who has $9,900.

    At heart I think that is what makes your proposal sound ‘wrong’ to me somehow. It is providing an excellent service, but the distribution doesn’t make sense. It’s a hell of a lot of investment to serve a very limited number of people.

  15. Lyn
    May 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Let me put it another way– I see so many families wanting to provide a healthy life for their children and not able to afford it. Is it really impossible that we could plan familiy communities for greater efficiency and access to healthy family activities? Is it really impossible that we could value having a parent at home in the afternoons and summers with kids? Are these things we could work toward and what are some others ideas as to how we could make these things happen? Starting from “what if is was possible” rather than “it is impossible”

  16. Jennifer
    May 21, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I like the sound of this. It reminds me of some organizations in Madison, WI where I lived a long time ago–cooperative housing organizations and businesses, and co-housing developments. It also reminds me of some people in the queer community who are trying to change institutions to be more inclusive–people like Dean Spade and Simon Strikeback (both of whom I think I’ve heard of here first) come to mind but I’m sure there are others. This is the article I read about Strikeback, which included some references to child care collectives, which you might also find interesting http://www.utne.com/Politics/Radical-Childcare-Collectives-Social-Justice.aspx . It’s hard to create alternatives, but there are like-minded people out there, so keep an eye out, keep dreaming and striving and writing and hopefully you’ll be able to connect with some of them and bring some of this to reality. On the discussion of barriers–I think a big barrier in creating alternative institutions is governance and management issues. As much as money, this is where things get bogged down. Who will be in charge, how will decisions be made, how to get and keep people involved, running meetings effectively etc.

  17. gratuitous_violet
    May 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Starting from “what if this was possible” rather than “it is impossible”

    Beautiful. Thank you for your dream. Your dream is what I think of when I ponder what quality subsidized child are and housing could actually look like, it reminds me of what some of the old radical socialist housing projects for factory workers were meant to look like. Your dream is older than all of us.

    This dream also tends to inspire fear in the economic ruling classes, because some of us dare to imagine a life fulfilled without conspicuous consumption.

  18. Lyn
    May 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Yeah I’ve had involvement with co-op living situations and also sustainable housing projects so I guess I was thinking efficient housing as applied to struggling families thus opening up opportunities for a richer family life would be one option. I’m not particularly tied to one specific option for enabling access of families to a healthy/enriching way of life; I am certainly committed to finding ways that work to make this more possible.

    I think single low income parenthood presents a specific issue that is hard to grapple with in a pro-choice context because I think a lot of the emphasis on choice de-emphasizes that choices are almost universally made within the context of limited options. This is why reproductive justice is an issue that I think should have a platform within the feminist movement and increasing access to positive options should be part of that agenda. This includes (in the interests of a female focus I’ll just talk female issues but I believe all humans deserve such advocacy)— creating supports for young women who have obstacles to acheiving financially due to difficulty with school and work performance. But on the reproductive justice front, I think should include expanding the ability to parent successfully in a way that is healthy for children. In general living in poverty tends to take a toll on children— BUT there are specific reasons for that. Meaning that it is not true throughout history and in every culture that children in poor families inherently had worse physical health and died sooner as is the case in many areas of the United States.

    So the focus shouldn’t simply be on “poverty causes poor health” but in uncovering what aspects of poverty are hard on health and future achievement and creating opportunities for lower income people to provide themselves and their children with the specific aspects of “wealth” that are beneficial to human well being. I believe adults deserve more accessibilty to making health empowering choices as well. Of course part of the issue is that stress and fatigue and low level of hope can decrease “free will” and forward thinking toward future oriented health and life decisions. Coping in the now is essential- and unfortunately living life focused on escaping from life pain and difficulty results in worse outcomes– however the causeof such behavior may be the bad situations rather than that the person is coping “wrong” for their specific needs.

  19. Lyn
    May 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Well I know from working in social services there is also huge level of burnout and jadedness that comes from being hopeful and then meeting with huge amounts of human suffering one meets with in social service oriented work. We need different techniques and probably for a combination of people with experience in the trenches of trying to help others combined with people who have the capacity to consider there may be more options and are willing to explore them without smashing out all hope of things being better before considering new initiatives.

    I don’t expect people who are busy trying to put broken people back together and to get resources that don’t exist to people that might not be able to use those resources anyway in a rather hopeless cycle of not seeing many successful outcomes to suddenly get excited about new ways of doing things. I also think that assuming nothing will work and that we should just keep doing what we’re doing even though it helps far fewer people than we would like is really a form of learned helplessness.

    There are huge resources of highly intelligent brilliant people in the world. There ARE solutions. We just have to care enough to create them. We didn’t always have ANY tools against disease and slowly– we are growing them. It takes time and the fact we don’t have the answers yet does not mean that can’t change.

    But i am sympathetic to people who feel their lives and work are difficult and grueling being asked to hand over funding to make others lives better. That is not my goal. I want to improve the quality of life across the board. If your life is painful– then that includes you.

  20. SWNC
    May 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for this post, Lyn. Mothers are expected to do so much, and we’re expected to do it all by ourselves.

    Supported, connected, valued women, make better mothers.

    Beautiful.

  21. May 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    A well-run organization could actually achieve a lot of this (especially when it comes to good planning, energy-efficient housing, etc.). This isn’t about “providing luxuries.” Much like Lyn, I have seen organizations in Europe provide a lot of the same stuff (for trafficking victims and their underage children, for example). Unfortunately, as Lyn pointed out, such organizations tend to have extreme religious bents.

  22. Sarah
    May 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Lyn-

    Where I live, the help available to mothers (especially those who are single, underage, and/or have disabilities, including mental illnesses, addictions, and abuse survival) is huge: low-cost housing, job placement, food stamps and various financial assistance programs, free health care for mothers and children, even free classes at local hospitals for life skills, and we have an active local community center that often has neighborhood activities. They aren’t specifically “mommy and baby” events, but they’re funded by local interest groups and usually open to the public free of charge. There are a number of moms among my neighbors who receive enough financial assistance that they don’t need day jobs to maintain a relatively high standard of living, and a couple have admitted to intentionally stopping their medications during review periods in order to continue claiming disability and unemployment.

    Going hand-in-hand with this (although obviously it’s not the only cause), the city is approaching bankruptcy, the crime rate is astronomical, the taxes are high, and the people who don’t qualify for aid have a lower standard of living than those who receive benefits. I know the situation my area is in is not a common one, and isn’t a good basis for how the average person on assistance lives and acts, but it’s exactly the situation you’re describing: you are dreaming of a world where people can get everything for next to nothing. That has very real, very prohibitive costs; I’m not a misanthrope just because I’m asking you to actually think about how this could be done and find answers to my questions instead of happily cooing at the image behind the rose-colored glass.

    I would also like to see a world where everyone (not just mommies, but everyone) has access to what they need at a price they can afford, safe, efficient, clean housing and healthcare, steady, gainful employment, quality education, and everything else a person needs to live a comfortable and productive life, but that requires far, far more change and reform than asking people to provide a standard of living for others that is better than what they can provide for themselves and their own families. That’s what your dream, as you’ve written it here, is describing.

    If your answer to criticism is “Well, if you don’t like how my ideas math out, you must hate the idea of doing good for anyone”, I wish you good luck and Godspeed on any of your future efforts with this project.

  23. Lyn
    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Sarah- yes I think that programs with religious bents work better than what you describe because they require good faith participation (ironic terms). That is my point of having a program that DOES require pay, mastering job skills, and productivity. Because I have seen how assistance programs can be abused by people who have lost control of their behavior- and I certainly know well what it means to have just enough to not qualify for assistance.

    The problems you speak of are real and as you describe them, seem to be the result of hand outs with very little responsability or empowerment/requirement to be able to use those resources well. When people have to earn their own way, it certainly increases incentive to value what you’re purchasing in a different. I value encouraging positive work ethic and growth in being able to contribute. And I believe that for all people– with or without children, programs that encourage the ability to earn your own income and give people the ability to contribute are better than hand outs.

    However handouts are– ironically– easier and cheaper (in the short run) than creating the kind of program I mentioned which requires more initial investment but puts greater emphasis on providing enough meaningful and appropriate support to really getting people through their obstacles to succeed. Ironically, as we tend to see among the poor– making their conditions worse actually does not necessarily improve school success and achievement as much as you might think.

    But I absolutely support programs that help people identify barriers to functioning in life (of any kind) and create the tools, training, physical and mental skill building, to perform at jobs that pay enough to sustain comfortable life. I also would love to see more efforts towards efficient and affordable housing for singles.

  24. Lyn
    May 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    “that requires far, far more change and reform than asking people to provide a standard of living for others that is better than what they can provide for themselves and their own families.”

    Note I have not suggested the government fund this program. I am not opposed to the government providing funds toward such programs, but I did not suggest that here. I have not requested you or any of the suffering people you mention whose lives are very painful and undersupported to give anything at all. I would suggest that people who care about causes like this devote their time and donations to it.

    If that is not you, then this is not your cause. I too think that people should try to plan their families out within their own means in order to not be a burden. However rape, sexual abuse, reproductive coercion, can certainly cause people to be in parenting situations they themselves did not plan out. I certainly do not think that people should plan to produce children and then need help. However these things do happen and in that case, what is better for the children? How can that not matter? And then… regardless of a mothers unethical behavior– what is better for the children? Why should the child of an ethical mother be more worthy of a standard of life than a non-ethical mother?

  25. Henry
    May 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Don’t listen to the naysayers, what you need to do is put together a sound business plan, and then start small – people raise piles of money to save puppies all the time, I’m sure you can raise funds to save parents & babies! If you help only 4 single parents in a 4 bedroom group home, that’s still better than not helping them. Figure out what you would need each month for that. Can you get a foreclosed house donated by a bank? – some towns have piles of housing inventory going to waste, in some places houses cost 50K or less. I would be ecstatic if there was a non-faith based alternative charity for single parents out there. The whole point of this is to not use tax dollars – so all the welfare arguments up there are not relevant. After all, at some point the children will be able to stay home alone and as a taxpayer, I’d rather have the parent skilled and able to work at that point (thus paying into the system) (or even before then if employment at a company with a daycare center can be arranged).

  26. May 22, 2012 at 12:50 am

    This post, and some of the reactions to it, remind me of Jed Purdy’s talk at Duke Law on the Occupy movement, in which he states that throughout recent history, ideas that initially seemed unreasonable (he half-jokingly refers to them as “outrageous utopian dreams”) led to reasonable policy changes. Imagine if anyone who had an idea had to explain exactly how they were going to make it work before we allowed them to open their mouths!

    As a pregnant woman, I want to thank you for writing this. And for what it’s worth, nothing about activities like gardening or yoga struck me as pie-in-the-sky or idealistic.

  27. Lyn
    May 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I think some of the cross talk here is happening because I have different assessment for who would be elligable. Who would be elligable would be anyone who wants to live in a minimalistic effeciently sized living arrangement with the difference in cost made up for in family oriented ameneties. Which could potentially be designed for cost among people who are just above qualifying for services so that they could make decisions like having one parent work part time or spend more on enriching and family oriented activities. I of course want to fit sliding scale fees in if possible but I also think it’s possible this sort of idea could specifically be available for low income families who don’t qualify for services but are having a hard time affording the things for their family that would improve quality of life and well being.

    But yeah, Julie, I was more going for “Hey what if we DID brainstorm some ideas because this is a real problem and I think we could find solutions”

    More than that MY proposal is inherently the solution. I also think such programs/living situations could be helpful for singles– especially who feel stuck and overworked and unable to get through school or move up for any reason. (If you feel stuck, I consider you a person with an obstacle.) I think most people who struggle with school could benefit from a structured dorm style living arrangement that featured support with building scholastic success and self discipline. When you are having trouble getting a quality diet and stable shelter and over worked and exhausted it’s hard for most people to improve their school performance or get through it at all. Let alone if a person has mental illness, physical disability, or specific cognitive impairments to go along with that. (Which among my friends who got stuck in low wage jobs into their adulthood seem to be fairly common)

    I think improving access to school is good and all, but the real obstacles are peoples ability to actually perform at school and manage scholastic life and life issues at the same time. Which I think many people need help with. Such programs would be most effective if designed to be sought out at will by people who want that kind of structure and support to succeed. In general I have found that active drug use impedes the success of efforts to help people through school and while I DO value harm reduction, I think a scholastic success program would benefit from encouraging sobriety/going through a drug treatment program in order to encourage people to focus on school performance rather than being out partying with friends.

    I think a basic effecient dorm style living for wage workers who want the option of paying a smaller living cost in order to work less/or save or improve quality of life in other ways could work better with a harm reduction model.

  28. May 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    To give another example (13 hours later I’m still thinking about this), in library school I learned about an invention called the Memex, described–but never actually made–by Vannevar Bush in 1945. Bush described the Memex as a desk that would use microfilm to store an entire personal library, which one could augment by creating trails of linked documents and notes. At the time, I’m sure many thought that something like this was ridiculously farfetched–especially since, in his essay, Bush doesn’t explain how one might go about making the prototype, manufacturing the desk en masse, distributing it to the population, etc., etc., etc. He just had the idea and tossed it out there.

    To my knowledge, no actual memex was ever made. But you know what the idea of the memex helped foster? Hypertext. As in the link to the Jed Purdy talk I posted above. As in the fundamental structure of the entire Internet.

    My point is that shooting someone down because they don’t lay out a comprehensive plan for putting their idea into practice is not only counterproductive (what if Bush had been dissuaded from publishing that essay?), but not even rooted in historical practice.

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