Jeff Herman sits on the front desk of the Shalom Community Center's dining room and hands out the laundry detergent that guests use to do their laundry. He's excited because today he'll have his first job interview in the past four years.
He met the manager of a fast-food restaurant at an AA meeting (although, he tells me, he doesn't drink -- he has a different weakness). "If he gives me a chance, I'll do everything I can to hold on to it," he says.
Jeff has been homeless for a few years now. He camps out in a tent about a mile and a half from Shalom. He served in the military for nine years and received three honors, he says. For Jeff, homeless life is not that bad. "It's as good as you make it or as bad as you make it."
I had never been to a pow-wow, but I'd heard plenty about them. Most of what I'd been told could be roughly summarized in three words: fun, but fake. I'd always been attracted to Native American culture, its philosophy, its worldview, its simplicity. I was eager to experience it, curious to know if I could still feel it alive. So, when I arrived at the Crossroads Competition Pow-Wow at the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Bloomington, I was both excited with anticipation and dreading what I could find.
The first thing I heard was the sound of the flute - magical and ethereal, it emitted a simple, peaceful melody, the long notes almost trance-inducing. I followed its sound, mesmerized. And then the magic broke, for I found myself in an events pavilion - bright fluorescent lights shone uncomfortably above my head, and the concrete floor felt unnatural beneath my feet. It was supposed to rain, so the pow-wow was moved to a rain site. We hadn't had a good rain for more than a month.
In 1992, 1,700 of the world’s most prominent scientists, including most Nobel laureates in the sciences, endorsed a document titled “The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.”
The statement, spearheaded by the Union of Concerned Scientists, warns that humans have inflicted “harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources,” and, if humanity continued to do so, it would “put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.”
Those scientists called on authorities and citizens of the world to take action and to fundamentally change their way of life before it’s too late. Almost 15 years later, scientists are still voicing the same plea – but is the world listening?