Around the wood stove in CTN's community tentTwo weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Camp Take Notice, Ann Arbor's homeless tent community. I also spent some time speaking with Caleb Poirier, a resident of CTN and board member of MISSION, the non-profit that supports the camp. CTN provides a place to sleep for anyone willing to abstain from alcohol and drug use. But it's also more than just physical shelter. The camp also provides a positive community. The community is self-governing and addresses issues at weekly meetings. I think this is what really makes CTN different from other options people who are homeless have in Washtenaw County. The residents of the camp have a stake in the running of the camp and a degree of agency that they might not experience with other options.
Sitting around the wood stove in the community tent at CTN, I really got a sense of the community residents have. They passed through the tent, sat by the fire, chatted about their days, prepared meals and discussed issues facing their community. The residents of the camp are thoughtful and genuinely concerned for each other and the community at CTN. Unfortunately the future of that community is somewhat uncertain.
CTN is currently on a triangle of land bordered by Wagner Rd, M-14 and I-94. The land is owned by Michigan's Department of Transportation who, to this point, have been turning a blind eye to the camp. CTN has been previously evicted from two other MDOT sites but has been at its current location for about two and a half years. Still, the future of the camp could quickly change at the whim of MDOT or from political pressure. So what can you do? Well, I am normally not one to recommend signing online petitions, but I think CTN's is different. You can also contact politicians who represent the area where CTN is located and voice your support for the tent community:
State Representative Mark Ouimet - MarkOuimet@house.mi.gov, (855) 627-5052CTN offers a great resource for a community for whom the more traditional homeless shelter system might not work. It provides shelter, food, access to social services, and a positive community for its members without costing the government a dime. I hope CTN can find a permanent home that meets their needs and continue to support the homeless population in Wastenaw County.
MDOT Transportation Director Kirk Steudle - SteudleK@michigan.gov, (517) 373-2114
E. Spaulding Clark, Scio Township Board of Directors - ESClark@twp.scio.mi.us
Rob Turner, Washtenaw County Commissioner (CTN's district) - firstname.lastname@example.org