February 24th, 2014

Okay, we're friends. Now what?

I'm trying to figure out how to take advantage of the humanity in a budding friendship.

Maybe I'd better try to explain that.

I love dogs; they don't get all bent out of shape about physical play the way humans do. There are of course a lot of different flavors of dog, and I'm thinking here more of personality than of breed. Specifically, ferals. Their world has gotten very simple, and when one is offering them friendship, it often confuses them. "Okay, you're not food, and I don't have to fight you, and you're not for fucking. So what *are* you?" Only many dogs aren't all that bright, and can't figure out how to ask that last question.

Sandor is a friend, and he's human. Fighting and fucking are both inappropriate, and while I feed him whenever possible that's an insufficient basis for this kind of friendship. I want him as my comrade, in the old sense of the term -- which I suppose does take on a bit of the fighting aspect, but not *with* him. I'm certain he's aware of the friendliness of my attempt, but I suspect I'm baffling him.

And that's why I want to take advantage of his humanity. To help him learn how to respond to the kind of friendship I'm trying to offer. I'm fairly sure he *wants* to accept, but is being confused about what I'm trying to offer. And that's in part because I'm *not* trying to define his half of it for him; that would obviate the purpose of this kind of relationship. He gets to define *himself*, and while I have preferences and constraints and would consider it a friendly act of him to take those into account, those are *my* issues and not *his*. Is this coming out in comprehensible English? It'd work much better in Newfie, but they can't use keyboards. (Telling a water-rescue dog "but I *want* to go swimming" can get entertaining.)

Any thoughts?

It's not a program. Yet.

So I'm writing up the Bike House Trailer (BHT) Program for presentation at the monthly Bike Farm meeting tomorrow night.

Thing is, it doesn't quite fit in the box.

Management is an abstraction. It's something we-as-managers create; it's an abstraction. Reality, on the other hand, is usually contiguous; it blends from one level to the next without stopping for neat little manager-created step-functions.

So building a bike house trailer is a project. I understand projects. They divide down into tasks, which are specific, concrete bits of work that we either know how to do or know how to learn how to do. Cutting the pieces of plywood into shape is a good example of a task.

As a *program*, the BHT is an effort to address homelessness. It cost Benton County $20K to provide a bed for a homeless person in 2011; it costs about $500 to build a BHT, which provides not only a bed but also a measure of independence. So why aren't we-as-a-society doing this?

When I'd designed this program back in Corvallis, I'd talked to a lot of cops, park rangers, social workers, and so on, and the main thing I was running into was the military mindset 'Defender Of The Law', occasionally also expressed as 'Defender Of The People'. And I perceived this as being the problem, because being a Defender can only have meaning if there's an *attacker*. So there's a strong but generally unperceived social pressure to take whoever can't defend themselves within the system and turn them into morbid threats, so as to have Attackers against whom to Defend.

Anybody who's actually spent time with actual homeless *people* knows that very few if any of these folks are even *interested* in being a threat, regardless of whether they're actually *capable* of being one, which even fewer of them are. They're mostly cold, hungry, and looking for an at least semi-comfortable place to sleep. And, if they could get any, it'd be wonderful to have a little bit of respect.

And the Corvallis police force and the Benton County Sherriff's Department have ongoing Continuing Education requirements. So there's money available to teach things to the modern civil warrior's corps that used to be the civic constabulary. And so I developed a course outline and lesson plans to teach the idea of being a Provider of Respect instead of a Defender Of The Law.

Fine so far. But I need to remember that I"m presenting this to the Bike Farm, not the H3 (Helping House the Homeless) Project. And the concept of "Providing Respect" mushrooms even more rapidly.

As best I currently grok it, the basic idea of 'respect' is to treat Others as different iterations of Me/We/Us. We can *differ* while still remaining fundamentally human. And as we-as-a-species get better and better at using resources from our environments, we get better and better at leaving more and more barren deserts behind us, for the others-of-us to try and scavenge in. So if I am temporarily in a state where I have surplus resources, I have an obligation to share those resources with others-of-me who do not happen at the moment to have such a surplus.

Which is how "Providing Respect" comes to mean providing housing, food, clothing, medical care, communications, and cultural access. And now my housemate needs the internet connection, so I'll get back to this as connectivity allows.