Brick, NJ Hurricane Sandy Relief
From November 16-23, 2013 THE FUTURE PEOPLE co led a trip with Camp Take Notice to Brick, New Jersey to help with relief for Hurricane Sandy. We were interested in a road trip, getting to know the stories of the homeless in the group, and helping out those along the coast. Our group completed work on 5 different homes that were damaged by the hurricane - the work consisting mostly of cutting away drywall and insulation from 4 foot high down to the floor.
The trip was amazing in many ways. The ability to help those whose homes had been seriously damaged during the storm was rewarding, but more importantly was the feeling of accomplishment and pride that all of us in the group experienced. Some of the guys on the trip had been through some very difficult stuff and some were struggling with addiction, but for that 8-day period we worked as a team - making a real difference for people who were dealing with a type of homelessness of their own.
The experience reminded the men on the trip that they are of great value to our society and they have something to offer. It reminded us that it is important that we give everyone the opportunity to use their talents in a real and meaningful way, both for each person's sense of self worth and also the overall benefit of the community.
"Tent City" Lakewood, NJ
In the Fall of 2012 the main question that CTN was exploring was what form a tent community for Camp Take Notice might take in the Ann Arbor area. As part of our research into the possibilities we decided to stay at “Tent City” in Lakewood NJ while we were doing hurricane relief work. The camp consists of more than 80 people living in the woods in suburban Lakewood. The design solution for the dwellings was often a combination of wood frames, blue tarps, and wood pallets. There are about 8 porta-potties distributed through the camp and one shower that is opened periodically. The existence of the camp has been a point of contention for the surrounding community and because the camp is operating just barely on legal ground there is no formal leadership or structure. For this reason the camp feels like the wild west - people move in and out on their own terms and there is nothing required in order to reside there. There seemed very little sense of community there and in fact the environment felt distant and hostile. The police were there regularly during our stay.
This experience strongly reinforced some of the elements that we feel are important to a successful CTN camp. Those elements are: legal occupancy, one entrance, regular resident meetings, assigned resident responsibilities, an eviction procedure, and also a smaller size.