Friday, December 4, 2009

A conversation with Bilbo Baggins

Mr Baggins wrote an email to Angels of the Road which I would like to respond to and share with you. Mr Baggins' comments are in regular type face and my response will be in bold face type.
Mr Baggins I appreciate your concerns and very much appreciate your comments...I am including them in a blog so others can read them also. I will insert my responses to each comment within the text.
Shall we begin:

I can't believe your arrogance and disrespect to those trying to help.
The homeless people who know (have met) me in Calgary and my other stays know I have nothing but profound love and respect for them. I discussed this potential journey openly with my client friends at the D.I. for months before getting on that first bus. I have their complete support for what I am doing. My co-workers in Calgary and the front-line workers, I have shared with over the past 6 months are glad that someone is out here telling their story and trying to raise awareness of the situation.

I am assuming that you are also being dishonest in obtaining accommodation Actually I use my own name and disclose complete financials when asked. I have lived in my daughter's home since Oct. 2005, so I am in fact homeless . Even with a pretty good salary from the D.I. housing in Calgary would be a struggle as it is for 59% of working and working poor Canadians. But that is not what prompted my journey. For that information read Nov. 3rd blog In the Beginning

and possibly denying a woman who really needs shelter by taking a place reserved for those in real need. I have never stayed in a shelter that was filled to the answer is NO, no one has ever been turned away for me. I carry a small tent just in case.

Perhaps your ethics and morality need a check up certainly you don't adhere to any recognized professional research . Millions of dollars are spent annually on research into poverty and homelessness (Angels of the Road doesn't have any of that money). None of it getting the answers I needed. I have seen the shelter system as a civilian, as a volunteer, and as a worker...the only perspective left was that of the clients. Feel free to go back to the blog beginning and actually get to know what I have learned from all the Angels I have met along this road.
I attended the international conference on homelessness in 2009, when I talk with academics, researcher and delegates about Angels of the Road, All of them expressed their approval for my "observer / participant study". A common protocol used in anthropological research and social sciences. Although no one could remember a study of this scope being done on homelessness before

In many communities facilities are limited and women are turned away daily. Has someone been denied shelter for your research? Shame on you for using resources that should be reserved for those truly in need. I have no income when on the street (I quit my job to do this, no E.I. for me) My saving are all gone and my RRSPs which I use to support my internet, bus tickets and cell service won't last much into the New Year. Selling my dream-catchers gets me a little pocket money. I continue trusting the Creator to provide for the journey He has sent me on. When I am in a strange city my need for food and shelter is as desparate as anyone elses in that moment.

If you had started your journey by actually living on the streets for a week or two so that you could really experience homelessness perhaps the facilities and food you have taken under false pretences would have been more palatable. That is an odd suggestion, Calgary is the one place even on the street where I could NOT truly experience homelessness. I would be surrounded by dear friends within the population who would guarantee I lacked for nothing. By beginning my homeless journey in Regina, where I was completely alone, I effectively removed that advantage.

You speak of mental issues and substance abuse and the prostitution that goes with it and then can't understand why computer access, cell phones and computer time are limited. I DO understand why these things are restricted, when I speak to lack of computer access or time it is simply to inform my readers as to a lack of length or content within the blogs and at that particular time.

Shake your head, street smarts are not taught in school and your education won't help you with this although common sense might. I was street smart long before I went back to university in my 40s and got book smart. Why would you presume the two are mutually exclusive? As for the uncommon gift of common sense I have been truly blessed. Thx for your concern.

Your self professed journey is a total farce, you are not homeless you are simply using facilities provided for the homeless. This is not the way that a professional conducts solid research. Now we are repeating ourselves Yes I am homeless and YES this is an accepted method of study. Assuming you have read the above I need not repeat.

Stop your journey and sarcastic comments of those helping and do some real good by joining the front lines with those who provide concrete resources that you say you once did. OK the Nov 21st blog was sarcasm...I don't really think there is a brainwashing conspiracy going on. You will find (if you read the blogs) I have never been anything but supportive of the agencies and workers in the cities I have visited. I have harsh criticism for Government rehousing policies at all levels. I share my experiences good and bad with my readers. I promised my friends in Calgary that I would be truthful in telling their story and I will do nothing less. There are too many myths, stereotypes and misperceptions about homelessness and the people who are homeless. I just hope that sharing my experience will help bridge some of the knowledge gaps for people who can't learn about homelessness any other way.

Many homeless shelters are run 100% by volunteers who staff facilities overnight, clean up and then go to work. Food is cooked and brought by volunteers, laundry is done by volunteers food is donated by stores. Does it meet Canada recommended nutrition probably not but people try and I have yet to see a homeless person criticize people for giving and doing what they could. Reserve your criticism for 100% funded government facilities not those run by people doing the best they can with what they have. Again not sure where you feel wrongly accused. The diets are hi-carb / low protien. The lines for everything are long. Dis-repair abounds. There are shortages in everything. These are not criticisms, they are facts and if it encourages one person to pitch in and help who may have spent the rest of their life opting out... then it is worth it. Government funding is rationed out to private chartible organizations and like the voluntary organization they are doing the best they can with what they have. NO one working in the shelter industry is over paid even the executives at the D.I. are getting 1/3rd of what they could get with a job in the private sector. My own take home pay after 3 yrs was equal to what the guys were making doing day labour...If you work with the homeless you are in it for the love. And I thank you for that.


  1. Bonny, I sure hope you are not letting this pompus a** bring you down..You are doing wonderful work and I would really like to see him out there..and "assuming" something and "knowing" are very, very different..get some facts buddy before you belittle someone for trying to do something to help..Like, maybe help yourself..I have many more words for this jacka**, but I can't waste another minute on him..take good care Bonny..K

  2. Well...when someone writes you a nasty note and is too afraid to sign his real name, I think that says it all!

  3. Oh, you should add a 'sending an email to us can be discussed on the blog and addressed publically at any time.' disclaimer. Makes it harder for TROLLS to hide under their Bridge.

  4. Karen, I have never, as far as I know been described as "pompous" most would say the opposite. A better word to describe me after reading Bonny's Blog would be angry. If I went Over the top I sincerely apologize. My anger is simply a measure of my commitment to the most marginalized in our society.
    I try not to assume - so should you. I have 15 years as a volunteer in this area, my wife has 20 years in the Chemical dependancy dept (Manager)at our local hospital my daughter has worked for 5 years working with abused women Manager & Program Coordinator.

    Bonny said: “I have never stayed in a shelter that was filled to the answer is NO….”

    She e-mailed me:

    “(I quit my job to do this, no E.I. for me)”
    I replied:
    I guess only you can answer the question of whether you are truly homeless. I said quote “Calgary where you were guaranteed you would lack for nothing”, you have relatives to stay with, you have friends, you have RRSP’s to cash, you received Social Assistance, you have an income from making dream catchers, you have the means to purchase the materials you need for this, you have a laptop, you have a cell phone I assume you have internet access, you have bus fare. Many of the people I have worked with would consider you very fortunate and simply homeless by choice, which is what I said at the beginning it is not the same thing.

    Bonny said “I have never stayed in a shelter that was filled to the answer is NO….”
    In her Blog she say's “I phoned over to the shelter and ask if I could have her bed...I have become so mercenary LOL”

    Bonny does not identify herself as a researcher when checking in and uses resources that have been hard earned for those who need help right now! She takes away the choice of those who work hard to provide the resources and uses them for her own intentions - research?. Sorry I take issue with that. If one person freezes to death because they can't get shelter because Bonny used a space, if they get frostbite, if one woman succombs to a pimp just for shelter the price of research is too high. Bonny hands out her card after her visit but conceals her purpose or at least does not disclose before taking shelter. I suspect she already knows in her heart that if she identified herself as a "homeless person" doing research - she would be denied access.

    Karen, I belittle nobody. If someone creates a public blog and hands out cards they invite comment - does that mean one cannot have a counterpoint? Sorry I believe in free speech - for all!

    Perhaps it is simply Bonny's blog that so far has focused on accommodation, rules and food and the way I read it. Maybe in the future she will take a look at support, assistance in finding accomodation/employment/education upgrading if feasible etc. The goal surely is to try eliminate homelessness and despair.

    The blog does not seem to like my e-mail address which is (Personal) or (Preferrred)

  5. George, Your profile is not available are you deliberately trying to be anon?

    You are very naive I can create any e-mail address that "appears" real and would perhaps satisfy you. FYI my personal e-mail is my prefereed e-mail address is If you would like to trade phone numbers I am fine with that.

    My initial correspondence with Bonny was private I had no desire to dis her in public. Bonny made my private e-mail correspondence public without talking to me.

  6. George, you have my e-mail now and if you want, my phone number. I don't troll I try and recognize each persons dignity and addressed my concerns directly to Bonny. I had no intention flaming her publicly. Bonny chose to make it public. I am sorry if you can't see that.

    Most of my contacts in this field and those working at UBC have advised me that Bonny's methods would never pass a peer review an/or ethics committee.

  7. Upon reading the opinions of Mr. B I believe he is
    somewhat uninformed as to the real world. I can only hope
    that in his christmas shopping this year he is jostled and
    either breaks or loses his rose colored glasses.

    Great work Bonny - keep it up!!"

  8. Judith and I met at one of my shelter stays. She has been on and off the streets for various reasons over the past few years, so she knows of whence she speaks. I have to agree, for all of Mr. Baggin's (aka Chris S) good work with the homeless; his understanding of the shelter system as a whole and the street population is somewhat limited.
    Judith is a strong, smart, beautiful woman. She is one of the most solid (honest & honourable) people I know and I am very proud to have her as a friend.
    Dear Judith
    Thanks for the support girlfriend, keep in touch. Hope you have a great holiday. Take care of yourself
    Much Luv