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Neighborhood Holiday Singalong 2018

December 17th, 2018 by dk

Nathan Showers and Tracy Joscelyn are concerned about an epidemic that is plaguing American society. They’re not the type to sit on their hands and hope somebody else addresses the problem. Nathan learned survivalist skills as a Boy Scout near Salem. Tracy got her degree in Recreation Management, with a focus on wilderness leadership.

Add resourcefulness to their generous spirits, and you can see why their work is gaining such respect. This weekend, during one of the shortest days of the year, they and their closest neighbors are hosting a holiday singalong. You’re invited.

This Saturday evening from 5 until 7 p.m., we’ll sing and enjoy each other’s company with hot chocolate and corn chowder around a blazing fire pit in the parking lot beside Good Samaritan Society at 34th & Hilyard in south Eugene.

For Tracy and Nathan and 10 other residents, this parking lot is their home. They live in Conestoga Hut micro-shelters built by Community Supported Shelters. Except for the warmth they generate themselves, they have no heat. And yet, they will be the ones inviting others in from the cold.

Homelessness is not the problem that is damaging us most. Our society is being decimated by loneliness. This scourge has infected the housed worst of all, because we can run inside and draw the curtains, keeping others away. We should have recognized that subdivisions might lead to loneliness.

Campers are less likely to be lonely. If you’ve ever exited a tent after a rainstorm, you know how adversity can bring strangers together. Tracy and Nathan estimate they’ve had 300 temporary neighbors over the past five years, 130 of them moved into stable housing situations.

“That’s definitely the weirdest part,” Tracy told me. “People cycle through, but some become lifelong friends. We want everyone to be comfortable, but they also have to always be ready to move on.”

Each person’s needs are different, and they aren’t easily hidden. One was between jobs and fell through the crack. Another is waiting for his girlfriend to relocate. Another is “a marshmallow pile of sadness,” who just needs people around him. In other words, Tracy’s closest neighbors are a lot like yours and mine — even if we’re less likely to know it.

That’s the point of the party. Everyone has needs and nobody has nothing to give. Whether it’s woolen socks or an understanding smile, sharing creates warmth. Music draws people together, divided only into sopranos and altos — not the housed and the unhoused.

About 50 people came to the party last year. Neighbors exchanged cookies and stories. Residents gave micro-home tours. Bi-Mart ran out of wool socks. We don’t need to be divided, much less subdivided. Relying on others is a skill worth relearning. Being tutored will cost you nothing. You can have it for a song. Let’s beat back loneliness, one stanza at a time. Please join us.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at The 2nd Annual South Neighborhood Holiday Singalong will be Saturday, Dec. 15 from 5-7 p.m. Parking will be available at Good Samaritan Society’s Eugene Village. The event will be canceled only if there’s a cold rain.

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