The social activist, Abbie Hoffman, once famously said "The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it." By all indications we did a lot more than 'get away with' the public action that Green Wood Coalition and its partners (HKPR Health Unit, Habitat for Humanity) took in downtown Port Hope from October 22 to 25. Our sights were aimed at raising awareness and encouraging community engagement with housing issues as winter approaches.
Our collective action resulted in the following:
1. Over 30 people sleeping outdoors in solidarity with the homeless in our community (our numbers included several who actually were sleeping rough in the community due to lack of address).
2. Meaningful conversations between political candidates and individuals who were, or had been, homeless.
3. Great community experiences around food, art and conversation.
4. Honest wrestling with our social issues by a panel of social workers, health care practitioners, police officers and faith leaders.
5. Honest, thorough coverage of the event and the issues by local media (CHEX TV).
6. Beautiful musical and poetic performances at an outdoor 'coffee house'.
7. A surprising (even to us) demonstration of the strength of community in overcoming differences between people, regardless of their background or address.
8. A concluding parade and drum circle on the steps of the Town Hall, next door to our encampment.
9. The beginning steps to create warming centres (daytime and nighttime) and emergency survival kits for individuals who end up sleeping outdoors in winter.
10. One individual that had been sleeping rough for 3 months being offered a room to rent and moving indoors following the demonstration.
Thanks to everyone who contributed food, dollars, equipment, talent or support to make 'Homeless Happens Here a reality'.