I am dedicated to creating a statistical end to homelessness and providing homes for the homeless, community building in such a fashion as to effectively negate the carbon footprint of the community as a whole and establishing cooperative communities whereas the entire community benefits from the overall efforts of the community as a whole. I am an experienced researcher and writer and specialize in complex systems solutions.
The vast majority of my personal work history includes disaster mitigation, disaster relief, logistical support and computer technician, complex environmental systems, environmental preservation and restoration and charity work … in addition to being a writer and researcher who writes in many of those areas time and finances allowing.
Cape Canaveral (Kennedy Space Center) Audobon Park
My Uncle Joe Kellet played a major part in starting the Animal and Land Preserves and Conservation Areas around the Kennedy Space Center and through Eau Galle but it made for an interesting childhood and one in which education and conservation were a natural part of our home-based learning process. (Even in the early seventies American education was rapidly declining and subject to more than just a little doubt among concerned parents and families … and yes, despite the "proverbial Yank-tourist", we do exist) It was here that I learned about raising alligators, (at the time an endangered species) raccoons, possums and other natural, indigenous wildlife and plant life. It was also here that I was introduced to "real-good/feel-good" efforts that tend to create more damage than they can ever mitigate, much less repair … though sadly something I have been unfortunate enough to see far too many times in my lifetime.
Boy Scouts of America
Various and sundry programs mostly including community service related programs, some reforestation efforts and numerous Environmental restoration and conversation projects in Wekiwa Springs in Central Florida in the US.
Hispanic Social Services Reno, Nevada, numerous schools, business interests and other locations in and around La Villa Hermosa and Orizaba in VeraCruz, Mexico
English as a Second language, English as a Second Official Language, Creative Writing, Technical Writing (in English) and various other courses relating primarily to English.
Las Gentes del Distrito – La Villa Hermosa, Orizaba and various locations in and around VeraCruz, Mexico
Sustainable Agricultural Methods for improved crop production and decreased detriment to the environment. Establishing clean water sources and proper drainage facilities.
Current Research. One of the primary efforts was to create community "wash centers" or places where the local population could gather to do laundry and have the soapy (chemical-laden) water drained through proper sewage or at least having it filtered through septic systems in order to prevent the continued polluting into the local rivers and runoffs from La Pica de Orizaba … the local mountain/mountain range.
Established a 170 Acre "Homestead" wholly off the grid – Reno, Nevada
This was actually a personal project with my dad and one we worked on over the course of years. Primary power came from both wind and solar generated electrical power running primarily in 12 volt, DC without the need or addition of power inverters or other expensive equipment. One well was dug to a depth of one-hundred feet with a windmill to draw the water up … there was actually a seventy foot head on the well so the windmill we had initially was a bit large but functioned quite well. When that was stolen (yeah, really) we replaced it with a home-made windmill made out of 55 gallon drums and a home-made centrifugal braking system. Water was pumped into a holding pond and through filters into elevated tanks where it was filtered and entered a direct line for "cold" water systems and routed through a tanking/heating system for the provision of hot water. Established a small area for subsistence farming, implemented use of digesters and other methods for developing desert lands into more "agricultural-friendly" production. Introduced Paulownia trees (There are nine variants of the Paulownia tree making them valuable in a great many environments including hostile desert climate regions) in order to begin testing potential uses, growth patterns and viability for desert restoration. Land was lost due to … circumstances beyond our control. (I can explain but it is an ugly story and sounds like a sob-story on its face but is an unfortunate by-product of "civilization" and overly-burdensome regulations in conjunction with real-good/feel-good laws … in long and short, my dad had a heart attack and since we lived off the grid taking him home was classified as felonious elder abuse and not taking him home was felonious elder abandonment … and it only goes on to get more bizarre from there) While the property was initially setup to be both our homestead and a study ground for the University of Nevada, Reno, the loss of the land prevented the project from being completed.
Great Work – SW Cotabato, Philippines
My initial work with Great Work was primarily as a researcher and grant writer. My research included areas of interest specifically with agricultural and production issues within the Philippines and developing methods to improve crop production and reduce environmental damages as well as methods for restoring ecosystems that had already been greatly damaged by improper agricultural practices. Eventually this job led to field work with Great Work in the Muslim Autonomous Region of the Philippines and ultimately led to me deciding to move here … though not to the Cotabato region or even to Mindanao in general. The overall work comes into question when the organization did finally shut down. This led to a very interesting "opportunity" for lack of a better word to see what not only went wrong with the NFP but also for observing the impact of "good ideas gone bad" … again, for lack of a better term.
The NFP itself had some major difficulties in large part due to its association with the Marcos regime and a great many politicians who had been around … and been politically active during the time of Marcos' reign in the Philippines … not a pleasant time for most Filipinos in the cities … and the virtual insignificance of the negative impacts on the more provincial regions has its own room for a great many studies … and could be extremely beneficial in future efforts including our efforts for community building. Essentially there are three different "economies" within the Philippines though it could certainly be broken down in more detail if someone wanted to get into the research and studies that intricately. The rich and the powerful (including a large portion of the politicians) work within a realm where the daily routine is much the same as that in any industrial nation … and while the is corruption no more abundant than it is in the industrialized or "civilized" nations, in my observations at least … but that would require its own paper to clarify … it is more affordable and in its own, bizarre way, actually makes big business generally easier to conduct … though penalties can be very severe when politicians of an opposing viewpoint get wind of such operations … and truly, such actions need to be avoided with our efforts here as we should be able to pass any audit or review not only by the Philippine government, but by the ICNL, other government agencies as they may be involved with financing and be, for all intents and purposes beyond reproach with any of the authorities.
Below this economy is the functional economy of the Philippine republic. Again, there is corruption and at the "street level" the corruption may be a bit more common but again, it does seem to serve a purpose to a certain degree and dare I say it, seems to have both beneficial and detrimental stigmas attached to it. The average annual income is somewhat limited and as such, there is some excessive fraud, theft, human trafficking and other issues that need to be addressed along with all of the hazards associated with conducting our venture here though probably in a separate venue to keep this from becoming a tome all its own. This is also the group that may in fact be the most difficult to educate as they are truly if not completely stuck in this frame of mind for anything shy of leaving the country and relocating in an area where they are forced to adjust their "attitude" or frame of mind.
Below this, people like me and the vast majority of the people who I originally sought to help (and still do to a great part though with some exceptions as may have been briefly touched upon during our initial conversations as a group … at least with me involved) live in a very hushed environment that the world likes to ignore for the most part but which has been a truly fascinating experience and journey despite the hardships involved. I believe that I briefly mentioned the last Charter Change known locally as a "Cha Cha" or what we would refer to as a constitutional revolution perhaps … depending of course upon your form of government and the way that form of government was practiced in reality. (Democracy is merely mob-rule in the pure sense of the word but it is often used to describe various similar, though regrettably … at least in practice these days … oppressive forms of government to a great degree … again, this is a socio-political commentary and one I would happily defend though not in great detail here … though it does remain relevant to a degree) While we do not by any means live outside of the government, the vast majority of our undertakings are carried on without undue government interference. We are free to grow crops on our farms without burdensome regulations, oppressive oversight or other issues of concern in the more industrialized or "civilized" nations. Again, that may not seem overly relevant but it is as our economy also remains highly outside of the "normal" sphere of governmental influence. During the charter change there was some interruption of power and travel was somewhat inhibited but other than that, there was very little real negative impact on the "sub-economy" here. Much of our work is conducted through trade and barter without real concern for money. We grow much of what we need and as such, we may routinely trade with friends, neighbors or family for an immediate return or in some cases, with a revolving reciprocity. When my avocado trees, mango trees, cacao trees or other fruits or vegetables are coming out, they may come out in numbers too great for me to use. Barring the ability to do any canning or preserving as I am currently unable to do so, it is beneficial to share them rather than allow them to go to waste. Likewise, my neighbors may freely share of goods, services or other methods of barter though often no account at all is considered and it is merely a matter of "common courtesy" or the "right thing to do". While this is not common behavior on a large scale among large groups of people it is very common in more provincial regions with families, friends and even some neighbors unrelated by anything more than location. As far as all of this is concerned, it may do us all some good if I put together a list of many of the benefits and detriments of establishing communities here in the Philippines though I rather doubt this introduction is the place as I have already taken up far too much of your time for an introduction … though there is more.
Grass Roots Efforts and the Webb "Vocational Institute"
As something of an introduction here, while I am certainly open to better suggestions, I do believe that with some revisions, these programs can be used to some degree to finance a not-for-profit license here, help us to establish a small history of action and program implementation and help us to gain a better foothold so to speak. There would have to be some revision primarily in the pricing as before, primarily due to our inability to raise funding, we would only charge as near to the actual amount as possible and often ended up spending money out of pocket to complete projects … which would not only be impossible in our present circumstances but would not bode well for the sustainability of the NFP, much less for any future expansions … though again, once we are properly licensed here, there are a number of grants from many of the different areas where we will be working and while a comptroller may ultimately be necessary in order to keep all of the accounting in line with the grant limitations and restrictions, it will be substantially easier to bear such a burden when we are all getting paid for our efforts, making real progress and have something tangible to show for our efforts … not that some or all of you do not already, but in regards to starting community-building operations here.
As I mentioned previously, the majority of the programs (or projects as we called them, being on a substantially smaller scale than programs) were "giveaway" programs meaning we effectively provided a means to people without any expectations of return, without extensive training and without any real return or benefit to anyone other than the recipients of the aid. It is important to understand a little bit about the Philippine government setup before you can fully comprehend our selection process but I will keep it very brief. Each neighborhood or community here is known as a "Barangay" and each barangay has its own government offices. The Department of Social Welfare and Development has an elected or appointed representative in each Barangay Hall. Through the use of a Liaison with the DSWD we were able to select needy families and avoid any circumstances where we were going to be throwing money away with families who had shown a propensity to ward off responsibility. Additionally, not being able to handle issues of dependence or other addictions or even gambling problems or other similar issues, we were very prudent in our selection process so as to help only those families that had shown a strong desire to help themselves when opportunities arose.
Even though our intentions never were to focus solely on the homeless, that was what we envisioned working with for the vast majority of our community base. While we do hope to be able to be better equipped to deal with people who are incapacitated in one way or another eventually, we will still need to have a primary focus towards families that have shown a propensity for earning their own keep given the opportunity. (Our DSWD Liaison is actually one of the core leadership group as well … though I think both her and some of the others seriously doubt our ability to put such a project together … again, it is difficult at best to discuss such grand projects when I live and eat among the poorest of the poor here … but again it remains an experience more valuable than most in the challenges we are facing and one which I would not trade for the entire wealth of the world)
Projects we have conducted include
Educational Foster Parents – Contributions were sought to send children to the public schools here. While the educational system here is perhaps one of the few more lacking than the US systems in place, until we establish our own schools, it seemed better than leaving them without any education whatsoever.
Livestock Pens, Coops and Ponds – The vast majority of homes in the provinces are well equipped to deal with livestock though the initial costs can be prohibitive. (Else I would already have my piggery and chicken coops re-stocked and supplied as well) In these instances, we built piggeries for two breeders, supplied two piglets, feeds to raise the piglets to the point they could be bred, insemination for the two breeders and enough feeds to get through the process til the piglets could be "harvested". For chicken coops we did the same for a selection of one-hundred chickens. While the chickens may not generate the same amount of income as the pigs, they can be harvested every forty-five days and require substantially less work. We did the same thing for Tilapia and again, while the profit margins for the families were not as good as the piggeries, the turnaround time was less … and varied depending on the size they wanted to raise them to … and in addition to being a potentially profitable business for the families, it would also help to feed them and in cases where we had sent their children to school, replaced incomes or lost monies resulting from the child no longer being a contributing member of the family unit financially.
School Supplies and Library – We had a small set up and were actually building up a fairly nice library until we lost everything in the two storms. While we did have some school supplies such as pens and pencils, rulers and such, all of the paper, books, notebooks and other supplies were destroyed along with the books.
Indoor Kitchens – Many people cook (as I do at present) in a "dirty kitchen" in my case, a single charcoal stove made from concrete formed with a five gallon bucket. In some cases it can be a fire pit or any of a number of different variations and setups. Our indoor kitchens included hollow block walls … a hollow block being like a cinder block but not kiln fired or hardened, a wood or rice-hull stove and a roof. While it may not seem like much, in some instances it did double the size pf the homes we were working on.
Indoor CR or Restroom Facility – For those of you who have not seen the pictures on the Webb website, the CR or Comfort Room there is the one we have here and such setups are quite common. A CR is short for Comfort Room or the place where your toilet resides … sometimes referred to as restroom or bathroom depending on locale. As evidenced by the photographs, a simple bowl is used, walls are optional (though tarps or "nipa" more commonly known in the US as "Thatch" may be used for some modicum of privacy) In most cases, drainage is simply anywhere downhill. In the case where I live now, it flows down into the creek and in some rare cases, a hole filled with ballast-sized gravel will be used as sewage. Our efforts included building a a CR complete with walls, floor and ceiling as well as a toilet bowl … though no water closet or tank or any toilet seat as most provincial people will not sit on one even if there was a seat and we also installed proper drainage and a "real" sewage tank from the local stores. In some cases the constructions were for single homes but in a great many cases they were (and remain) a community or a shared CR.
Hollow Block Homes – A great many people live in substandard housing made out of thin plywood, bamboo or even entire homes made of thatch or nipa as it is known locally. The homes we built were very simple three by five meter hollow block homes with a metal (corrugated) roof or a nipa roof depending on location and the current cost and availability of supplies.
Clean Water Source – A relatively simple well is what we will install in most cases, along with a hand pump to draw water. In some cases we may enclose this in a single, small room depending upon the location though most of the times, unless it is a combination facility for a single household this is not the case and construction of that nature was not generally provided through our projects.
Laundry "Platforms" – While the idea of a platform for laundry may seem odd, a great many people here will wash laundry in rivers, creeks, at water pumps and in other locations without any type of proper drainage in place. The problem is that all of the soaps and other harsh chemicals are dumped directly into the ground and the environmental concerns there, while numerous, should be obvious. Laundry platforms are set up with drainage and sewage tanks in order to allow at least the majority of detrimental and toxic chemicals to be filtered out before the water returns to the aquifers.
District-Wide Irrigation Projects – The lack of proper irrigation in the farming districts is a very expensive but necessary program to undertake. To date we have only completed (or even taken on at all) two such projects. At present, most of the natural creeks are routed through an ever-changing series of dams and levees built by hand to re-route the water as needed for local rice fields. The constant changing of water runs, drainage and other concerns of this nature have resulted in major ecological devastation primarily in the form of erosion and and production levels. While even now the irrigation systems and canals being installed are less than ideal and lacking any series of locks to control water flow, they do serve to prevent the constant digging and rerouting of the natural flow. These works continue to this day and are part of the efforts we work on in cooperation with the local and national governments as well as some of our friends in the government here.
Reforestation Efforts – We have participated in a great many reforestation efforts here … and I use the term efforts quite literally as they are not well-managed or properly organized. However, since they are conducted by ENRO or the Environmental and Natural Resources Offices, it is not our place to say so we go along and try to get as much of the work done as properly as is possible under the circumstances. The reforestation efforts in and around Quezon Province in Zone 2 of the Philippines are an incredibly sad look at what devastation can occur when reforestation and environmental restoration projects and programs are poorly planned and implemented. So fierce and fast is the growth of the "Cahoy Ng Buhay" (Tree of Life … also known as the Paulownia trees) that entire ecosystems were quickly overtaken because the projects were nothing more than going up and trying to set records for the number of trees planted with no efforts to include program management. Sadder still perhaps is that this mindset continues to this day. While I have taken such factors into consideration … including methods for providing incentives to manage environmental restoration, preservation and the inclusion of subsidiary or secondary ecosystems, I am afraid such a concerted effort will remain with us until such a time as we do get a bit larger, have a greater record of success and can begin national (and global?) training projects in environmental management along with restoration and preservation.
Rice Fields for the Poor – This is something that we have not done since our first two years of operations here in the Philippines but the overall process has a number of benefits. Rice fields are routinely "Mortgaged" here. First thing to look at is the meaning of the term "mortgage" in this context. The average cost of a mortgage is roughly $5,000 (AUD) per hectare depending on how well the rice field generally produces. Average yield per hectare is around sixty-five sacks of rice, hulls and all though our personal efforts tend to yield in the neighborhood of eighty bags per hectare. Some fields will perform slightly better and some slightly less depending on the conditions but an average field will be mortgaged at about that price. The "mortgage" may be for a set length of time or it may be just for however long it takes the owner to get the money together to pay it back. During the time that a mortgage is "owned" or "held" the person who has paid in the money and now has "possession" of the field will farm it as if it were their own. The rice harvests serve as the interest as opposed to a financial payment of a set amount of interest per annum. Moneys are rarely returned other than at the end of a harvest in order that the financier will not spend money farming a crop which they will not harvest as well. Average timed mortgages are for a two year period though again, a great many of these deals are not bound by restraints of time.
For the case of working this in as a project, we gathered the funds to mortgage a rice field. Once we held the mortgage, we farmed it, kept enough of the rice to pay for the labor and costs and then handed the rest out to DSWD reps at the Barangay level as it would be their job to distribute the rice provided by the government for the poor people in their barangays as well. The drawback is that the money is often not available for some two to three years. The good thing is that when you have people donating for these projects, when the money is returned, it can be used for virtually anything in regards to other projects, salaries or any other sundry expenses that may need tending but are not otherwise covered by donations either directly or indirectly.
Cleanup Projects – We have helped to clean up parks, rivers and numerous other locations. These projects are primarily to keep us in the public eye and occasionally get some good press. As of yet we have never actually sponsored any of these programs but given their long-term benefits … almost non-existent … they are still suitable for PR campaigns.
There are numerous other small projects which we have undertaken though again, nothing on the scale that we are contemplating and certainly nothing remotely close to the same benefits or rewards. I could likely fill a book or ten were I to include all of the minor projects we have undertaken but hopefully this will serve to give you some indication of what we have been working on and I will not take up any more of your time for a day or three … well … for anything not directly related to the efforts that we are pursuing. If you are looking for references as well, I am more than happy to provide them for you at any time. While I may not be the most sociable of people, I am a man who can get things done and I do thrive in fluid environments. We have a lot more in place and are wholly prepared to take on a great many of the larger challenges we face. If you do have any specific questions, comments or concerns, please do not ever hesitate to let me know so that I may address them expeditiously.