Letter to the editor: About a little village

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your interest in Dignity Village, even as your recent editorial calls for it's dissolution. My heart would warm to read of your enthusiasm for the well-being of homeless people except that I notice that you tell so little of the incredible success story that is this courageous, self help community. How come?

Perhaps you simply need to visit the village yourself, meet the real people who live there, see their great efforts, and get a sense of what people can create together which money cannot buy. There is such a story to tell there, and numerous other journals and magazines from Japan to Italy have told the story quite well. You have missed the tale, and by omission misinformed and misled our citizens. How come?

It's a great story, that people with so little found a way to at last lift themselves up and offer the best idea in town: that a little community, creatively engaged, can transform the lives even of people who are beaten low, missing parts, or are weak and near death. The work that they have done for themselves, for homelessness in general, and for their city is an outstanding proof of the uplifting effects of direct engagement and participation in civic processes. They have become public speakers, council members, caretakers, builders, makers, and each has gained a real sense of DIGNITY in this world. Why won't you tell this story?

Since villagers and supporters met with you over two years ago, you have known of their broader vision, and you have seen them accomplish, with tremendous support, nearly every step forward toward their goals, absolutely, remarkably. You have seen that they have been able to transcend homelessness and offer the city a more noble model, even a livable model, for pennies on the dollar compared to conventional shelters. Yet, you have elected to confuse rather than inform, obstruct rather than help. Only you really know why.

Well, this village is an idea whose time has long past arrived, and for once we could use your help. Especially if you can swing a hammer.

Mark Lakeman
SE Portland