Thursday, September 15, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions - Homeless Talk

1) What is Homeless Talk?
Homeless Talk is a series of twenty-five or more facilitated open-ended large group discussions in community centers, clubs, congregations, and private homes in Santa Rosa to share thoughts on homelessness.
Our mission: To engage our community in conversation regarding homelessness in our city with no 'Homeless Talk' bias, judgment, opinions or specific agendas put forth. Our aim and commitment is to take your community voice and present it where it may have an influence on solutions.

Hosting a Homeless Talk:

2)  As a Host of a Homeless Talk meeting, what are you asking of me?  
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 the meeting 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, at least one steering committee member will work closely with you as you set up the event.

3)  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 through our newsletter.  We will publicize our effort as a whole, as well as telling people about upcoming meetings.  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, colleagues, friends and family, as well as using the mailing lists of any organization that is involved.

4)  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.  As you are planning your meeting, talk with your steering committee representative about the specific amount you need and we will attempt to get it to you.

5)  As a host, 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 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.

6)  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.

7)  How will information be collected?
At the least there will be note taking at each meeting.  In addition, we will have a brief survey at each meeting that will also be on-line.  We are looking into more intensive methods of collecting information.

8)  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 Homeless Talk. 

9)  How long will a meeting be?
The formal meeting will last 90 minutes (1½ hour).  Please plan an additional 30 min. for set up and try to keep the room available for 30-45 min. afterward for extended discussions and clean up.

10)  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 talk in Santa Rosa here:

11)  What do I do next?
a)  Take a look at your calendar.  Do you have some time between now and November, when you could organize a conversation? (If so, see #6 above.)
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 us to get a steering committee representative.
e)  Confirm a date and begin working on the details.

General Questions:

12)  How will information from Homeless Talk be used?
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.

13)  How can I help?  There are many ways you can support this project, by attending a Homeless Talk Conversation, helping with publicity, grant writing, food or drink donations or a tax deductible contribution.  Our contact information is below.  Please get in touch.  One of the most useful things you can do is to become a host for a specific Homeless Talk Conversation.   It's easy.

14)  How can I make a donation?
Make your check out to our fiscal sponsor LIFEE, Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, put “Homeless Talk” in the memo line and mail to 9826 Keith Court, Windsor, 95492.  Donation through LIFEE are tax deductible.

Or contact the steering committee through the e-mail or phone number below.

15) Who is on the Steering Committee of Homeless Talk?
Our volunteer steering committee members are Gregory Fearon, Pat Kuta , Hank Topper,& Lawrence Lehr from Santa Rosa Together, Adrienne Lauby and Cynthia Stebbins from Homeless Action!, Cecile Querubin, Organization Development Consultant, and Hrieth Anet Pezzi, community educator and group process consultant.  Cynthia brings her experience as a homeless woman to the group.

16)  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.  We have the support of individual Santa Rosa City Council members, some of whom will be hosting conversations.

17)  Have there been open planning meetings about this?   If so, who are in those groups?
Since the Fall of 2015 the Homeless Talk Steering Committee has held 5 open planning meetings 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, Betsy Hall, 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 Action!, Santa Rosa Together and homeless individuals.

18)  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.

19)  How can I reach you?
To volunteer to host or for any other questions,
e-mail or leave a message at 707-583-1509.

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