Friday, March 18, 2016

What happened at Nickelsville?

News of "Occupy Camp Dearborn"

We knew what was going to happen as soon as we heard the news. The Dearborn location of Nickelsville decided to fire Scott Morrow (he was their staff person) and go their own way.

I should probably begin last year in 2015, when about the same thing happened. This is documented in the SLOG, the Stranger's blog. In early 2015, Nickelsville fired Scott. Steve Olsen, the pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, warned them that if they did not reinstate Scott Morrow, they would face eviction. In 2015, they did so. Within a few weeks, the people who ramrodded that eviction were barred from Nickelsville.

So when the Dearborn site of Nickelsville did the same thing again, we expected it to go about the same way it did last time. There was a difference this time, though. The residents stuck to their decision. So, on February 20, when they were supposed to leave, and they hadn't found a spot, they didn't leave.

Olsen told the Nickelsville residents that he has "great confidence in the Nickelsville model of self-government." However, the church had understood that "when we contracted with Nickelsville was that Mr. Morrow, as staff, would be our chief liaison and communication link. ... If that is not to be the case, we will no longer be able to serve as church host for the Dearborn site."

Now, I have to question this decision. Was the Nickelsville model of self-government only okay as long as Scott Morrow was in charge of it? But be that as it may (and I only ask the question because there are accusations that Scott Morrow manipulates pastors into doing things like this), Nickelsville did not reinstate Scott, even after being threatened with eviction.

So, on March 11, 2016, Nickelsville was swept by the police. We cannot deny that the residents had plenty of notice.

Real Change News carried the story: (quotes from their website; please go read the whole story)
Polly Trout, founder of the social services nonprofit Patacara, stepped into the fray in February with the intention of becoming the new sponsor.
Sixteen former Dearborn residents were spread between hotel rooms and activists’ homes until afternoon on March 14 when they moved into the open lot in Africatown. It’s unclear how long they can stay there, and Patacara is actively looking for a more permanent location, Trout said. 
 But there's a problem.

Ms. Trout and Camp Dearborn have chosen a lower-barrier encampment model.
“Our mission is to offer compassionate, respectful services that meet people where they’re at,” Trout said. “We’re making sure everyone at the camp has case management and is getting on the coordinated entry waitlist for housing and connecting them to other services if they need it.”
Nickelsville cofounder Peggy Hotes says the low-barrier approach is not sustainable. In her words,  “when you’re drunk or high it’s impossible to make rational decisions, including decisions on moderating the intake of substances.”

Nickelsville has never had a really good reputation for making sure residents stayed clean and sober. When they were founded, they ran themselves as "anti-SHARE," and allowed open drinking and open drug use. When that didn't work out (it took them a week to figure that out), they decided that drinking and using in camp was not okay, but being drunk or intoxicated in camp was okay as long as they person stayed in their tent (or went right to bed) and didn't bother anybody.

The camp still has this attitude, sorry to say. Nickelsville has had a reputation as a camp for druggies for quite some time, and nothing that has happened in the last few years has done much to change that reputation.

Occupy Camp Dearborn has set up a facebook page.

According to the Stranger's SLOG, some Camp Dearborn residents have found a temporary campsite at the Umoja P.E.A.C.E. Center in the Central District. The writer of that article says, "the city faces constant neighborhood freakouts over opening even highly regulated tent encampments." This is very true. Imagine the freakout that will happen over a low-barrier "compassionate" encampment.

That's not to say that something doesn't need to be done for them, but a self-managed encampment is probably not the right answer. As Ms. Hotes says, it's really hard for someone under the influence to make good decisions.