FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1) What is Homeless Talk? What has been done?
Homeless Talk is a series of twenty-five or more facilitated open-ended small and large group discussions in community centers, clubs, congregations, farmers markets, and private homes. It has begun tabling to ‘test drive’ the process and will begin formal discussions this fall.
We formed a Steering Committee to begin the background work. That group has created a brochure and poster and generated an opening list of questions about homeless issues. They are currently piloting this project via one to one conversations at various local events and venues. They also continue to meet with individuals and groups to explain what Homeless Talk is planning and to ask for their help.
2) Who is spearheading this?
The volunteers on our steering committee are Gregory Fearon & Pat Kuta from Santa Rosa Together, Adrienne Lauby and Cynthia Stebbins from Homeless Action!, Cecile Querubin,Organization Development Consultant, Betsy Hall, member of West End Neighborhood, and Hrieth Anet Pezzi, R.N. and community educator and group process consultant. Cynthia also brings her experience as a homeless woman to the group.
3) Are there formal partnerships and if so, with whom? Who are the people connected with these partnerships?
Our strongest coalition members are from Santa Rosa Together and Homeless Action! (see above for individual names) We have asked the City of Santa Rosa to become a formal partner and hope to grow the coalition further over the summer. We also have the support of Santa Rosa City Council members Combs and Schwedhelm.
4) Remind me how this information will be used?
A) If you are responding to our questions about homelessness:
We will collate responses to these questions as well as other information from formal and informal meetings. When we finish this round of meetings & discussions, we will prepare a report that will be released to the public. Your name will not be used unless you give us specific permission. We expect the Santa Rosa City Council, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Social Service Agencies, Business Owners, Neighborhood Groups and Individuals to find the information useful when issues of homelessness arise.
B) If you are responding to questions about venue and cooperating organizations: We will put whatever information you give us into an excel file that will allow us to follow up as needed in order to hold a specific Homeless Talk Conversation.
5) What would ‘I’ be doing? What are you asking of me?
There are many ways you can support this project, by attending a Homeless Talk Conversation, engaging publicity, grant writing, food or drink donations or a tax deductible contribution. One of the most useful things you can do is to become a host for a specific Homeless Talk Conversation. This job includes interfacing with the people who own the building where it will be held (if it is someone other than yourself), planning the date, inviting people, setting up the room before hand and cleaning up afterward. Snack food is optional. Your group may provide food, or it may come from the Steering Committee. Homeless Talk will provide a facilitator and format for the meeting, and pay any agreed-upon fees. We will bring handouts and other materials, provide note taking, and help with set up and cleanup. In addition, you will have a steering committee member who will work closely with you as you set up the event.
6) Who will do the publicity to get people to the meeting I am hosting?
This is a collaborative task.
Homeless Talk will publicize every meeting in the newspapers and other standard outlets, as well as on our facebook page and to our e-mail list. We will be publicizing the effort as a whole, while telling people which meetings are happening in the near future. We may provide targeted publicity in your neighborhood or to specific groups of people. We will put posters and other signage on the building the day of the event.
We hope you will invite neighbors, friends and family, as well as using the mailing lists of any organization that is involved.
7) Is there money to cover the cost of any mailing I might do, or brochures?
There will be some money but we are still raising it. And, by the way, in-kind and monetary donations are tax deductible. When the time comes, talk with your steering committee representative about the specific amount you need and we will attempt to get it to you.
8) Have there been group meetings about this? If so, who are in those groups?
Since the Fall of 2015 the Homeless Talk Steering Committee held 5 open planning meetings this Spring which included a wide variety of people. A partial list: Anita LaFollette, Beth Dadko, Chuck Cornell, Chris Coursey, Georgia Berland, Ernesto Oliveras, Enrique Yarce Martinez, Hank Topper, Jim Leddy, Jennielynn Holmes, Jim Sweeney, Lawrence Lehr, Michael Gauss, Sheila Baker, Tim Carnahan, Tanya Narath, Jackie Brittain, Rene Riggs, Thomas Ells, Tom Schwedhelm… Organizations and groups included the Junior College Student Government, several churches, the Santa Rosa School District, Sonoma County, Burbank Housing, City of Santa Rosa, homeless individuals, Homeless Action! and Santa Rosa Together.
9) Are the city or county involved and if so how?
Staff members from Sonoma County attended our early meetings and helped us plan our initial strategy. Both staff and Council Members from the City of Santa Rosa have also attended meetings and offered their encouragement. We do not have a formal relationship with either governmental group at this time.
10) Who will facilitate the conversations?
We are training a cadre of volunteer facilitators. Many of them will come from Sonoma State University’s Organization Development Masters Program, where they have become skilled facilitators. We hope to have two facilitators at each meeting as well as a note taker. Please tell us if you would like to facilitate or know someone who could fill that role.
11) How will information be collected?
We are still working on this. At the least, there will be note taking at each meeting. In addition, we will have a brief survey at each meeting which will also be on-line. We are looking into more intensive methods of collecting information.
12) How many people will be at each conversation?
There is no requirement or minimum for a conversation. We are hoping that each one will draw between 10 and 30 people but that will depend on you as the host, the sponsoring organization (if there is one), and the Homeless Talk publicity.
13) How long will a meeting be?
The formal meeting will last 90 minutes (1½ hour). Please plan for 10-15 min. in the beginning to get people settled and try to keep the room available for 30-45 min. afterward for extended discussions and clean up.
14) Will I have to speak and if so what will I be asked to say?
You do not have to speak if you don’t want to. However, we would be honored if you would welcome those who come, provide any information about the building (location of bathrooms etc, and thank anyone who has helped you. At the least, we would like to acknowledge you and your work during the meeting.
15) Is there a bias in these conversations? If so, what is it?
Our bias is the radical belief that people can figure out their problems themselves, even large problems like homelessness. We believe that bringing people in Santa Rosa together in groups with some help from a facilitator will provide the next set of solutions for the issues of homelessness. We will talk about the issues that individuals bring into the room with them. The facilitators will be trained to encourage everyone to talk and to exhibit no judgments.
We were inspired by speakers from “Everyday Democracy” last winter.
Find the Everyday Democracy Santa Rosa talk here:
16) What do I do next?
A) Please take a look at your calendar. Do you have some time between now and November when you could organize a conversation? (If so, see #5 above for what that entails.)
B) Contact your prospective organization or building and find out whether they would help you by providing the room and any publicity.
C) Find a couple of evening or weekend dates that work for everyone,
D) Contact your steering committee representative to confirm a date and begin working on the details.
17) Who do I contact if I have any questions?
Are you a committed host? If so, someone from the steering committee will contact you within the next week to give you his/her e-mail address and phone number. That person will begin working with you directly.
To volunteer to host or for any other questions, email HomelessTalk@gmail.com or leave a message at 707-583-1509.