Vladimir Tolskiy

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Grower of the Sustainable Future.

I would like to build a world where everyone is a welcomed and a productive member of their community.

Joined Organizations

Based on a post “America Needs Humble “Public Servants” and New Efficiency Metrics to Optimize the Welfare System.” of 3 Apr 2020

American welfare system is in a deep crisis. To emerge from this crisis, we need more peer-run recovery centers, mental hospital diversionary respites and other recovery facilities which would be operated by the people with lived experience for the people with lived experience. This implies a transfer of power that cannot occur without vigilance, solidarity and cooperation in the national movement for the people with lived experience.

In order for changes to occur, American peers need to work together, as a well-orchestrated national front and to aid each local group of active peers in pursuit of the following goals:

  1. Peers represent themselves in a county, municipal and state and federal governments

  2. Peers defend labor rights of peers

  3. Peers collect their own data to support expansion of peer services

  4. Peers create a media presence that enables

                                          them to speak directly to the public (taxpayers) and to demonstrate positive outcomes 

Fair Representation and Survivability.

 In order to bring on economically and socially favorable conditions for peer support, peers need to find a way into the local governments. Many brave individuals made attempts to do it single-handedly or in very small groups, in their hometown. Yet their attempts often meet immense resistance, causing them to give up or to wait indefinitely. Such undertakings require strong peer support, as well as courage.

The National peer community has to develop a standard approach to allow peers to gain representation in their local government, without having them to rediscover the peath individually, every time. It is like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a boat instead of trying to swim across individually.

What would it take to organize a hub to coordinate the advancement of peers in the local governments?

Peers representing peers

As people with lived experience, many of us rode in the back seat for many years. Powers at being instinctively defend their privileges and assets by retaining a parental role over weaker, traumatized people. This, in turn, works against our attempts to recover and to become fully-integrated members of the American middle class, and to propagate the idea of peer support.

This is why it is in our best interest to dismantle the old “doctor”/”patient”, professional “helper” / dependant “helpee” relationships that dominated the mental health industry for centuries, holding many thousands of clients in obedience and constraint.


Survivability is important to track down a vulnerable group that needs the most help. It would also counteract covert hostility and endangerment of minority groups by negligence, as well as by deliberate misplanning of the services.

Survivability is often used in medical brochures, when we read about the chance of recovery from a certain type of cancer within the next 5 years, after surgery and chemotherapy.

What about a chance of survival for a colored transsexual person who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, in the next 5 years, at a specific location, as a client of that location’s welfare services?

Survivability - based determination of need would allow us to protect vulnerable groups, in different areas: CSX, LGBTQ, BIPOC, refugees, PTSD veterans, or single working poor men who don’t have time to get “handouts” from the charities as they have to work. It would also help identify the most vulnerable age groups.

Survivorship bias is introduced if only grateful/ successful customers of the welfare or mental health establishment are allowed to speak about their experience with the system. The accounts of single poor men and LGBT people are commonly omitted. Tracking of survivability would also help prevent rehospitalizations and recidivism. It would decrease mortality among the patients and decrease the burden on the emergency medical services.

Diminishing role of volunteers

As the gap between rich and poor in America is increasing, the volunteers no longer represent the poor, welfare-dependent population. It takes more and more resources to dedicate oneself to uncompensated work, as the cost of living raises, particularly rent in my hometown. (The gap could be healed if tax laws favored barter over monetary trade, thus encouraging communal relationships)

In my hometown of Frederick Maryland, many  volunteer — governed boards of the key welfare organizations fell into the hands of pro-gentrification forces and no longer represent the interests of the clients. Reforming the system to accommodate for the changes in the economy presents another challenge to our movement and hopefully another subject to reforms, yet it is our duty to spread awareness for this reform to occur.

Peers in the government

In order for peers to leverage reforms that would help advance the peer movement, we need to learn how to represent ourselves in the federal, state, municipal and county governments, (suggested name: “National Association for the Advancement of Peers”),  In conjunction with the National School of Grant-Writing, a national umbrella organization can aid peers in sharing their experience with other local groups. Maryland State-level effort to bring peers into politics could also be improved.

What can Peers do in the local government:

Administer Local Welfare

  • Define the level of need.

    • sincere, open, negotiable priorities of who we help first, instead of traditional throttling of poor people with waiting lines, humiliation and disrespect of personal time

    • strive to create an objective, agreed upon, universal scale to determine levels of need

    • possibly prevent covert hostility, microaggression, hate towards vulnerable groups which inevitably occurs in the current patriarchal system, especially if some corrupting economic force is present. (Typically, as a political effort to eradicate a problem population to increase the real estate value in the area.)

  • Review complaints, provide various forms of immunity / protection to complainants (especially if they are homeless and/or completely depend on the services for survival)

  • Communicate with other regions about the solutions that they implement.

Study the Population

  • Conduct a study ”United Way style”, researching vulnerable population’s needs. 

  • Analyze efficiency of services (R1),(R2), peer support to save taxpayer money on services, while presenting results directly to the taxpayers.

  • Work with the city transportation services to design routes that would serve the recovering population.

Advance the expansion of Peer-run services

  • Advocate for the interests of the peer-run programs, peer-staffed services as well as peers themselves, as workers. Develop new services, such as mental hospital diversionary respites which would be staffed by peers. 

  • Exchange experience with other peers in other regions.

  • Encourage participation of peers in the local government

  • Counteract Gentrification and Development lobby that perceives vulnerable populations as an easy target, those who drive down the values of real estate, can be easily expelled by increase in rent and harsher policing.

We can accomplish all this if we are a strong National movement with communication between multiple, local, groups that work simultaneously. It is easy to choke one such local effort, yet if national movement occurs, the change will become more expected by the local government establishments. It would not add to their popularity of the local authority to resist such progress.

Economic Justice for Peers.

Peers and Basic Human Needs.

Peers already lost their physical and mental health due to the oppressive forces that extracted surplus labor from them and their ancestors, to the point where their life was endangered. Thus, in order to prevent further traumatization of people with lived experience, working as peer supporters, economic justice has to be made a priority.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=118&dpx=1&t=1588615802

Caseworkers and Certified Peer Recovery Specialists

When caseworkers were first introduced, they were members of vulnerable populations and many had lived experience themselves. Later, formal training had replaced the first-hand knowledge of how to navigate the system.

Currently, peers with lived experience know how to navigate the system better than many other types of specialized welfare workers, while often not being paid in accordance to their level of experience. Peers at high levels of recovery would be much more effective if they were paid enough to be able to afford rent in the municipality where they work, and not financially marginalized. It is difficult to help others for someone who remains in survival mode, despite their best efforts.

Peers and Labor Movement

People with lived experience cannot be expected to perform in an insecure, competitive environment that a typical (disposable) worker has to endure in a fully commercial business. it is also more difficult to determine the worth of a peer in a peer recovery center, compared to the efficiency of an assembly line worker. Peers tend to work as a crew and the crew has to have the right to enlist and expel members in order to function like an adaptive organism.

What may be ethical in a standard business practice, will often bring more trauma to a peer employee and will compromise their performance. People with lived experience get excited when they get the position, and become very depressed when they lose it. It undermines their self-esteem and greatly impedes their recovery. Limited funding often forces peer organization directors to fire and rehire peers in order to stay within the budget. At the same time, directors tend to receive a secure middle-class wage and this creates a barrier of understanding between the captain and an ordinary crew member, who works and lives with fear of being tossed overboard.

Such a workplace becomes very competitive, overwhelmed with envy, and fear of losing income. Relationships between peers become less fraternal and more back-stabbing.

Only worker solidarity among the peer employees, and a collective struggle for secure employment can allow people with lived experience to hold positions long enough to enable them to recover and to grow, as well as to negotiate for more funding.

Peer recovery centers are one of the rare cases where the directors would benefit from labor organization of the workplace, as there would be less pressure on them to perform under restrained finances.

School of grant writing

Understanding of grant writing by peers will heal the gap between rich and poor in the welfare sector.  If peers bring money into their organizations, they would become more horizontal and peer run, decreasing the potential for manipulation through funding.

Presently, grant writing is a secretive and competitive trade. Learning it, requires a level of financial security, which is often unattainable for people in higher levels of recovery, who could otherwise do the job. Thus, they find themselves excluded from major financial decisions that affect the security of their employment and integration of peer services into the welfare sector.

It would also serve us to share our experiences of applying for grants, with the national peer movement, in order to understand how the system varies from state to state and how we can coordinate our efforts to improve it. It has been suggested that public safety grants are worth looking into, along with mental health grants, that peer support organizations typically apply for.

I would like to start a National Grant-writing School for peers, by gathering all the knowledge and experience of our National community in one place.

Perhaps, the first assignment is to find grants for interested participants to fly to one location and to hold a conference.

Hiring Consultants

Can peers be hired as consultants? What are the labor laws that govern the hiring of consultants? Do they vary from state to state? What restrictions apply to hiring consultants by a non-profit? How can peers benefit from this practice? Can this allow peer recovery centers to navigate around book-keeping restrictions?

Answering those questions, as well as the institution of a National Grant Writing school would pave our way to success in the post-coronavirus quarantine economy.

Gap between rich and poor, within the welfare sector itself.

Welfare-affiliated nonprofit organizations often spend most of their budget on salaries for the staff, rent and insurance. Very little money remains for the programs themselves. Peer support organizations are not an exception.

This appears to be a cultural problem, as directors are expected to receive an upper-middle class wage with benefits, while the poor are expected to get breadcrumbs and to be grateful. Lower-level staff, often composed of people with lived experience, also receives very little pay or recognition. The gap between rich and poor within the welfare sector itself, certainly doesn’t make America’s safety net more efficient.

It is perceived as an industry standard that a typical non-profit organization spends around 60% on administration. The ratios vary from industry to industry. Different publications state ratios obtained by slightly varying methods, making them hard to compare.  This makes the American welfare system very demanding and inefficient, leaving very few resources to maintain a healthy peer culture.

Two ratios to compare equity of employees and service output.

Federal law requires all construction thermal insulation to be labeled with a thermal coefficient ‘R’, in order to protect buyers from commercial trickery. Can we do the same to prevent non-profit trickery that costs us so much in taxes and in human lives, making our safety net so unreliable?

Can we measure how much money is spent on wages vs. how much money is spent on programs and mandate that each welfare-affiliated organization has to publish this ratio next to their name?

Can we also require state grant-receiving non-profits to publish the income gap ratio between their lowest-paid and their highest-paid employee?

Otherwise, pathetic pictures of cute kittens, puppies and starving children would always be used to manipulate donors, politicians and voters, while our taxes would not be used to strengthen the safety net. This tendency does not favor peer support.

Reporting Positive Outcomes.

Building a system that rewards positive outcomes

In order for peer services to gain recognition that they deserve, we need to advocate for a system of productivity metrics that reward positive outcomes, not headcount.

Grants come with Conditions of Award, which often require numbers that show how many people were served. Yet, often that creates no incentive to measure client satisfaction or positive outcomes.

Meanwhile, peer recovery centers could benefit a lot from consensual methods of documenting positive outcomes. Such organizations have a hard time proving their usefulness in the system that values easily obtainable numbers.

Despite the burden of scientific evidence that peer support helps people recover and the commitment of peers, peer support remains underappreciated and underfunded.

Eventually, there is a fear within the establishment that peer support will lead to a new Civil Rights movement. We encounter a lot of roadblocks as many traditional professionals are afraid that we would no longer not need them and that the cash flow to them, on our behalf, would end.

Many thriving welfare services resemble a cattle drive: herding clients through and counting heads becomes a priority that the services are optimized for. This marginalizes the role of peer support.

There are two more metrics that could help optimize our welfare and healthcare here in Frederick County, Maryland, as well as in the entire United States of America:

1) How many clients have given up, knowing how difficult it would be to obtain a service.

2) How many clients went on another loop, out of despair.

The latter is very important in the mental health world, if used against the regular headcount.

These may be guidelines of the World Health Organization, yet I could not confirm that. Please write to me, if you know their origin.

Such metrics would also create an incentive to help clients achieve self-sufficiency and graduate from the programs and into productive life. They can also decrease the loopiness that an average client experiences, along with the operational costs. It is in the interest of the peer supporters to push for such metrics to be used by the overall welfare system.

How can we expect people to recover if the system itself is so loopy?

User feedback survey.

I also suggested that our County could obtain vital feedback by making follow up phone calls and asking clients of the 211 phone services about their experience and the usefulness of the advice that they were given. Can 211 be made into a peer-run service?

Peer Media Presence.

As we successfully build a more peer-centered version of the welfare system in America, we need to  encourage the struggling, alienated people with lived experience by showing our success in the media.

Such presence can be accomplished if our community learns how to secure specialized media presence grants and to acquire the necessary skills and equipment to record video and to publish media posts about our success.

I believe that sufficient media presence would naturally emerge from us documenting positive outcomes, after we negotiate for a better way to report our outcomes to the funders, on the terms that suit the peer support industry.

Thus, it would not require a significant diversion of resources to show some of our positive outcomes to the general public which sustains the welfare system by paying taxes;  it would be a part of our job.

Local government reforms would go a lot smoother if there is a media background that presents those reforms as ever-present and simultaneously occurring across the entire Nation.

Help me bring those propositions to life!

I wrote this as I felt an obligation to all the people who “cried on my shoulder” and shared their stories with me, out of despair. My impression of the system’s faults was based on those accounts, as well as on my personal experience.

I set my mind on writing this article and addressing a national peer support community, after I found very little local support with those ideas.

The information about nonprofit economics originates from internal sources which I am unable to disclose.

My assessment of the apparently national problem is based on a network of personal sources, located in Frederick, as well as at the other, primarily Maryland locations.


Follow this link to access the Google Document with the article, which contains the original formatting.
This document will update automatically, while the post has to be updated manually, resulting in delays in the updates.


I am looking for a supportive environment to build a multi-faceted educational project that would spark an interest in self-sufficiency and sustainability, within the community that hosts it.

I would like to build an exhibit to offer many people a clear vision of what to aim for, what to strive for and what to fight for.

This project can be a simple museum, organized in a shop space, an urban maker-space/hackerspace that would be dedicated to the development of green technology, or an entire village with residents:

it all depends on the vision of of the hosting community, as well as the resources that would be available for the project.

Ideally, the project would consist of a net-zero homestead with several residences that would support a modern Western standard of living. Land for a garden and an orchard, a greenhouse and a space for a hydroponic farm or a similar setup.

The project doesn’t need to be all about gardening or about engineering and technology: there is a balance between all trades that are required to achieve a net-zero way of life.

A commercial kitchen where fermentation and other food preservation techniques would be taught, is important for education. Beehives would also be useful.

Various commercial energy collection and recuperation systems can be exhibited at the homestead. Each subsystem of the net-zero homestead would be accompanied by an interactive computer demonstration to show how it works.

There would be animations of the thermodynamic processes, as well as supportive engineering and economic calculations that justify their use. The education material will be written for various depths of study, so kindergartners and engineering students, alike, could learn from a field trip to the homestead.

The host, possibly a resident of the project, would guide visitors and demonstrate various parts of a sustainable homestead to them.

The homestead project would teach various aspects of sustainable living: It would demonstrate how to minimize one's impact on the environment. It would help bring awareness to where our food comes from,

where our water comes from, where our energy comes from and what happens to the materials once we are done using them.

For example, I would like to make an exhibit out of a composting toilet that would be fitted with a transparent wall.

I would also like to have a beehive with a transparent wall, similar to the one in the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Such homestead may also serve as a community center for local environmentalists. The structures can be a part of a large community garden.

Since the origin of  this project lies in my frustration about living in Suburbia for many years and realizing that it is a plastic desert, camouflaged with landscaping ornaments, my close friend suggested a good name: Project “Oasis”.

There is a burden of scientific evidence, from fields including psychology, epidemiology, environment, ecology and even grid engineering that tells us that if we all lived in agrarian settlements,

composed of such homesteads, if we erased the boundary between city and country, most of the problems of today’s American society would be gone.

There would be no air pollution from traffic, no child obesity, no places for crime to take place and no Roundup would end up in our waterways.

We could slow down or stop climate change. And we would be much better prepared for a climate emergency to come as our dependence on the grid would be minimized.

What keeps us from creating a portrayal of this dream in flesh, in brick-and-mortar, a place for good beginnings to take root?

What would it take for such outposts of sustainable living to be established nationwide?

Can we create such exhibits in every community around the World, to serve as beacons, to inspire people for a positive change, to uphold a collective vision of the solution to many acute problems of our day and age?

The Objective of the Project “Oasis”: To show the suburbanites that a better, more relaxing, healthier, safer and less depleting way of life is possible and what to pursue to make it happen.

Help this project by arranging it into a proposal for your municipal or county government. Please share this proposal so we can improve it and submit it to our governments.

Real Estate required

Scalability and adaptability of the project is important as communities have different resources available.

A floor in a multi-story building can be converted to a sustainability museum that would explain energy transfers and economics behind them.

An empty plot of land may be developed with a residential structure, a greenhouse and a large area for a garden.


  • To showcase a model of energy efficiency: solar panels, green house, solar and heating systems, etc.

  • To strive for net-zero, zero carbon footprint.

  • To serve as a model of sustainability where different techniques could be showcased

  • Demonstrate sustainable building technology, a commercial exhibit, a “smart house”— a display of energy harnessing, storage and recuperation systems.

  • Use Earth’s thermal mass.

  • Architectural symbiosis - combination of a house and a greenhouse.

  • Awareness of points of the compass, prevailing winds, soil drainage and other natural circumstances that are largely ignored by the architects of suburban developments.

Economics benefits

  • Allow for research and development of new, sustainable agricultural and construction techniques.

  • Support trades that decrease our impact on the environment.

  • Provide a fertile ground for sustainable businesses to flourish.

  • Teach what it really takes so build a sustainable economy, from a scaled version to an engagement of the entire community.

  • Influence local politics, make business law more friendly to sustainable business startups.

  • Educate civilians and politicians about the community-building qualities of the barter economy.

  • Serve as a hub for mutual aid and for time banking.

  • Demonstrate that it is possible to grow enough local food to cover the demand of the homestead. Teach best practices to do so.


  • Allow residents to give as much to the outside world as they receive from it.

  • Invite residents who would like to become voluntary experiment participants.

  • Allow those residents to use a commercial shop space that would be included in a complex; offer them a place for a trade: to exhibit their products, and to sell them.

  • Collect lots of user data.

  • Encourage residents to maintain a strong media presence.

  • Life of the community may be broadcasted as a TV show or as YouTube series.

Teaching facility

  • Conduct agricultural experiments that involve permaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics and other sustainable agricultural practices.

  • Publish all findings.

  • Invite grad students and academic researchers to participate.

  • A place where new building techniques can be worked out, new building code can be developed.

  • Education facility for school, career center or college students

  • The exhibit may serve as a teaching hub for homeschooling.

  • Explain thermodynamics behind the energy harvesting and recuperation systems, teach how real economic benefits can be obtained from such systems.

  • Teach about energy density and limits that shape our engineered world.

  • An educational YouTube channel would help spread the knowledge beyond the geographic location of the exhibit.

  • Operational composting toilet with a transparent wall — composting toilet manufacturer may fund the creation of this exhibit, as an advertisement.

Facilities / Activities to be supported

  • Community garden

  • Green house

  • Composting for the surrounding community

  • Meeting place for environmentalists and other activists

  • Spiritual worship

  • Permaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics, mushroom farming and other growing systems and educational demonstrations.

  • Build a sustainable ecosystem around this facility, a wildlife and human ecosystem

  • Pursuit of net-zero lifestyle within realistic economical boundaries

  • Wildlife and songbird sanctuary

Obstacles that I encounter in my hometown:

  • Zoning. Frederick County is gentrified rapidly. It is built over by tumors of inefficient suburban

  •     developments that mock some 19th century English town, while appearing severely out of context here in Appalachia. My vision may bring doubt to new homebuyers and would be seen as an interference with the prevailing ideology of the status quo by the investors.

  • Attitude of local politicians and people involved in the non-profit sector is that they would

  •     likely continue to ignore this idea or one day will take it over and turn it into profitable enterprises for themselves, excluding lower-income people from participation. There are examples of such ‘sustainable’ retreat enterprises in our county, both for-profit and nonprofit. As a result of        this takeover, I would have no access to this project and I would be granted no credit for it. Such things already happened to me in Frederick County, Maryland before and it was very painful to see my ideas serve the wrong people.

  • Frederick County is not very progressive and there is a very small interest in net-zero construction;

  •    several enthusiasts had unorthodox home designs approved and built on their properties. It doesn't sound like the most accepting place for such ideas. Even with widespread support of the community, it may take many years to amend the building code and to rezone land for the        homestead exhibit to be built. I am looking for a community that already has the tilled fertile soil to drop the seeds into.

#netzerohome #repurposed #solarenergy #solarpanels #passivehouse 

#solar #solarsystem #green 

#homestead #permaculture #permacultureuk #permaculturerocks

#greennewdeal #FFF #Climatestrike

There is a subject that induces a lot of fear.

This subject also stands in the way between our mundane fight for survival and our Utopian dreams of making our world a better place: livelihood.

Many of us who envision beautiful ideas on how to make our world more humane, how to make our living more sustainable, more in tune with Nature, forget about livelihood, forget about where our daily bread comes from.

Without bringing up this delicate subject, it is almost impossible to have a conversation about many subjects including Recovery and Reconnection with the Earth. Some people own real estate and others do not; some have taken the position of professional preachers or hold a cushy position in the government or the non-profit sector, while others are surviving on welfare or living paycheck to paycheck. Some people try to provide for their two children, others have many children and expect society (or everybody else) to cover some of the expenses. There is no unity, unless the source of sustenance is shared, and risk of death is shared. How can we reform the society without discussing our socioeconomic backgrounds openly?

I find it counterproductive to talk about recovery without discussing the cost of independent living, the cost of dependent living, the cost of housing, work and income.

Sometimes the subject of sustainable living even serves as a cover, to avoid the subject of livelihood, as a psychological defense, a cover for fear; yet the subjects are inseparable at their root. Where our income comes from is where we tend to be out of unity with Nature the most.

“Leave everything behind and follow me.” doesn’t work in our world anymore. As spiritual teachers are also commercial entities, such calls are often interpreted as surrendering your basic human needs for our good cause. As good causes become commercial enterprises, the level of indifference to them increases.

As long as livelihood is avoided, the question “For whom we are building this future ?”, will remain open. Who will get to live in it?

Livelihood is also a delicate subject because people have to hide their income or aid in order to be taxed less or to receive more subsidy from the system. The tax system is designed to repress mutual aid and barter by taxing in money, thus it seems always to be between the state, and us, alone.

Yet, as long as this subject remains to be a social taboo, we are going to live as we did, corruption will increase and the society will further divide into castes, each pulling the blanket in it’s own direction, until it rips.

It is what we refuse to talk about that gets us. We get a very divided society, a very compartmentalized culture, where every noble idea is distrusted, as no noble idea truly challenges the social roles that we live in (or under), unless money, pay, livelihood, income, assets, access to resources are an open part of the conversation.


Frederick Municipal Forest, also known as the Frederick Watershed, is one of the most beautiful nature destinations to visit on a weekend.

This vast undisturbed, wild landmass stretches over Catoctin Mountain, connecting Gambrill State Park to Catoctin and Cunningham State Parks.

.It is one of the nearest places where residents of Frederick can access wild nature.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=152&dpx=1&t=1589961714The Catoctin trail stretches along the Catoctin Mountain Range, connecting several parks and the Frederick Municipal Forest.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=171&dpx=1&t=1589999556Groups of volunteers, primarily mountain bikers, maintain the trails. Mountain bikes also erode the soil a little bit more than hikers. However, volunteers are repairing trails, ensuring that rain water does not run down the exposed soil of the path, arrange large stones and logs to make trails more robust. Big thanks to the volunteers for conservation of the Frederick Watershed! 


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=154&dpx=1&t=1589961901There are many beautiful ponds in the Frederick Watershed. Originally, some creeks were dammed to create fire water reservoirs, to be used for fighting forest fires, they add to the spirit of this forest. In several valleys, little streams connect the cascades of ponds like beads. This particular pond has a very interesting water color, making it one of my favorite ponds. The dams on the ponds are already eroding, causing them to lose the water level.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=155&dpx=1&t=1589962287Streams come out of every hillside and the terrain has a different character on every slope of every hill. There is a great amount of biodiversity as every slope has a different climate, depending on which direction it is facing and what other mountain formations shield it. In the winter, there valleys where the snow can stay for an extra month, compared to other parts of Frederick County.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=159&dpx=1&t=1589962701Recently some internal gravel roads have been closed from one, probably to discourage owners of off-road vehicles from going on a safari and damaging the soil.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=163&dpx=1&t=1589963284Despite expressing a concern about the quality of our drinking water and river ecosystems, our County Government still allows our most precious natural resource to be treated in this unsustainable manner. Occasionally, our County government sanctions for the parts of the Watershed to be clear cut.
The amount of soil damage that logging leaves behind on the ancient mountain is disturbing.


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=164&dpx=1&t=1589963522This image reminds me of one of the pathetic pictures about deforestation of the Amazon Basin. In actuality, this picture has been taken in the Frederick Municipal Forest. I suspect that many cubic meters of fertile soil had been washed away into the streams as a result of this barbaric logging operation. As a result, we lost a delicate layer of organic soil and vegetation, capable of storing the precipitation up on the hills, slowly releasing it into the streams below. This contributes to doughnuts, floods, soil deprivation and erosion and river pollution.
How much damage to the environment does a clear-cut like this cause? Lets ask a scientist!
Frederick County was in a state of drought for several years in a row and the topsoil of the mountains can store rainwater, like a natural water tower.


A mountain bike trail transverses the clear-cutting site. At each end there are those mysterious signs. I haven’t seen a single security camera on a tree, not even a camera for tracking wild game.

And what is the damage to Public Property? Is it me walking there or is it them demising our Municipal Forest with their logging?The water picks up loose soil runoff, chainsaw oil, soot and other pollutants. Someone in the government probably gets a nice kickback for issuing a permit to cut the trees that grow in this fragile environment on one of the most ancient mountain ranges in the world.

I wonder how much more the mountains have eroded after first settlers arrived in the Appalachian mountains, cut all the trees and turned the exposed surfaces into pastures? And unfortunately, the first thing that was lost is the tender, fertile layer of rich, organic soil that covers most of the mountains and nourishes life that clings to the hillsides. I wonder how much thicker that layer was in the original first-growth virgin forest.

Camping is illegal in the Municipal Forest, probably because our dear government is afraid that a portion of our homeless population will settle there. Fires are also illegal, which doesn’t stop people from starting them in picturesque places. I was once ticketed for camping in the Watershed and had to pay a fine. Yet clear cutting of the forest doesn’t seem to bother any authority.

Ancient mountains may not last long enough for us and our governments to get any better.
How can we protect the Watershed portion of the Catoctin Mountain for future generations?

I observe this cycle repeating itself, today, and as far back as I can remember.

I hope that my description of the cycle serves as a fair warning to those activist leaders who are eager to endorse politicians that seem to support their cause, without any prior negotiation.

This list may help activists negotiate with establishment Democrats, by discussing the following eight steps with them.

Very little change can be accomplished until all of us are aware of this vicious cycle.

Of course I am describing the worst-case scenario.

(01) Politicians make public appearances and hold debates. Promises are made to various vulnerable populations and minority groups, before the elections.

(02) Activists rally in support of ‘change’ and in support of the new candidates.

(03) Democrats get elected.

(04) Bills are drafted, often with economically-unfulfillable left-populist statements, promises to help minorities, vulnerable, impoverished communities/ people.

(05) Activists and grassroots movements are engaged in drafting and supporting the bills.

(06) Since establishment Democrats are usually a little bit wealthier than those who they claim to represent, on average, they are not particularly interested in helping the needy with their own money. Lobbyism is still a major source of income for them. Many find a common language with conservatives, when time comes to conserve their investments, wealth and privilege. Liberal capital tweaks new laws in its favor, advancing and refining economic exploitation and gentrification. We get usual results.

Finally, when bills pass the legislature, they get gutted. Promises to vulnerable people and minorities are typically dropped out, economically - unrealistic and left populist statements are eliminated or replaced.

(07) Grassroots movements fall apart. Ordinary members grow distrustful of their organizers and of the establishment. Many members of the movements feel like it was a sellout.

            Poor and minorities feel alienated. Activists develop apathy, become angry radicals or change sides, out of despair. Loyal leaders of successful movements are offered a promotion into the ranks of the Democratic Party.

(08) Cycle repeats itself with every election. Residue of unfulfillment accumulates.

            No life-threatening conditions for minorities are alleviated through activism, as all political compromises were already made at the top.

We need to end this cycle.

One of the best ways to do this is to hold politicians accountable for unfulfilled promises.

Is it a good time to expose Democrat bigotry when Republicans are in the office?

That way we may select the best candidates to represent The People, for the next election.

Otherwise, what good do we expect from Democrats in the office if this cycle would repeat itself again, and again, until people completely lose their hope?

Attendance of many local elections is already very low.

#2020election #bluewave #usa #midterms #resist #democrat #midtermelections #democracy #california #govote #voting #trump #losangeles #georgia #repost #rockthevote rregistration #change #earlyvoting

Following the election of Donald Trump, the reaction of many people who did not support him was very empathetic. Slogans, such as “Love Trump’s hate” were commonly heard and seen.

It is very unfortunate that our Liberal faction has forgotten that noble approach to this political crisis that descended upon America.

More and more often, I hear about an “evil Trump-voting redneck” who is ascribed many negative qualities and dehumanized. People who cultivate those harmful stereotypes rarely interact with hard-working pickup truck-driving residents of the countryside. Even worse, they make no attempt to establish personal contact and to find a common ground with the people of the land.

As a result, this image of a demonic countryman who waves a confederate flag, drinks beer, shoots guns off his back porch and votes for Trump because he is very hateful, strengthens in the minds of many urban Americans. This image is not helping America resolve the great divide that left it so drastically unprepared for the Coronavirus crisis.

I have a number of friends who would perfectly fit the description of a redneck: they hoard guns, drive large pickup trucks with lift kits, chew tobacco on their front porch, appreciate Budweiser and support president Donald Trump. The men have a brutal masculine appearance — they definitely try to look tough. Yet this hardened, scarred shell conceals some very beautiful characters.

Some of them are a little confused, at times. Yet I would like to focus your attention on the underlying sense of insecurity that leads to this confusion, the fear that makes them embrace conspiratorial and apparently erratic ideas. The outside appearance is just a protective casing, which can be misleading.

The sense of insecurity that my rural friends experience is largely based on economic factors such as job insecurity, lack of welfare, mistrust towards the government, a direct competition for work with Latino immigrants. The assumptions that urban liberal folks make about them do not help to de-escalate the conflict.

People who are born in a country from parents who have lived in the same country, typically believe that they are native citizens — they have some natural sense of entitlement. They expect their government to prioritize their interests over the interests of new-comers, they believe that for their hard work, there should be a fair pay and that their lifestyle is a lifestyle of the majority of native sons and daughters of the country. They expect the government to protect them. Or they no longer have faith in the government.

My rural friends do not feel understood by the political establishment. The lifestyle which they have adapted to over the years is becoming more difficult to maintain. Their standard of living has declined drastically in the past 20 years. They feel like they pay taxes and see very little reward for their contribution to the State treasury. All they see from the authorities is more limitation of their personal freedoms and increasing interference with the business practices which sustain them and those who depend on them.

Increase in regulation may be for the common good, yet what is in it for them? Many rural people feel marginalized in their own country.

Instead of harboring those harmful stereotypes about “rednecks” and escalating a crisis that is consuming many human lives, every day, I would like to present a question:
What would it take to make insecure American breadwinners feel more welcome in their own country?

How can we convince them that the reforms of welfare, healthcare and other bills of the Democrats would also serve them?
We also need to respect the reasons for their mistrust, as they are not baseless.

Poor farmers who survive on less than $1.

When we hear about poor peasants in undeveloped countries, who survive on one dollar per day, we often forget about the ability to forage or to grow food that they may have. Such ability to obtain nutrients, vitamins and minerals does not require money, thus it is not included in the calculation. Neither is it taxed.

In many traditional communities, the majority of economic exchange happens via barter. Barter economy is an essential part of the communal life, while it is usually not taxed with money, as in the United States.

American Poor.

Being poor in the ‘free’ country of the United States puts one in a complete dependence on money for all life’s necessities. American poor typically don’t have access to land that they can cultivate, at a reasonable proximity to where they live. There is no place to forage, while all unoccupied land is converted into lawns and landscape arrangements, which are mandated by community management organizations, composed of wealthy real estate owners.

Thus, a poor American needs a lot more money to survive. This often leads to a very unhealthy diet which consists of empty calories from GMO cornmeal that is molded into various shapes and sweetened. This makes poor Americans very unhealthy.

Being poor in American countryside.

Being in American country, you are surrounded by someone else’s property that is usually a monocrop farm, which is heavily sprayed by toxic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.

(I talked my friend out of buying a rather spacious house that was jammed between a corn field and a road for this reason. He is a beekeeper and he likes to garden. My concern was that the runoff from the top of the hill will contaminate his veggies.)

Living out in a rural area, away from town, can be very socially alienating and puts one in a complete dependence on an automobile, while the cost of ownership and operation of one may be too great for someone who can only enjoy the backcountry level of income.

Since American culture is very individualistic and profit-centered, many farmers have to deal with the burden of work alone. Often they don’t have enough free time to take proper care of the crops and animals as many work a second job. They rush farming operations and are not always able to spray chemicals at an optimal time. Thus they use more chemicals and cause more soil erosion.

Generally, land owners insist on oppressive roles and don’t want to treat their workers as equal shareholders. As healthy labor relationships cannot be established, labor-intensive permaculture and organic farming finds only limited use. Same problem cripples intentional communities. Too often, communes acquire a Jim-Jonesy flavor.

The countryside is beautiful for one to see, yet it is not welcoming ordinary property-less have-nots to interact with it. American countryside is a very demoralizing place to be stuck at without money or health to credit oneself with: your trailer will be pressed against the road and your backyard will be dusted by toxic chemicals that drift from the field behind it. All social activity leads to great expenses.

After serving as an unpaid farmhand, technically as a slave, and almost losing fingers on my left hand due to unprofessional and impulsive actions of my exploiter, I no longer consider the idea of escaping the city.

Being confined to a backyard of a big house, out in the countryside can also be isolating and unhealthy. Raising healthy children would require a lot of driving. Usually, mom has to become a full time driver to provide kids with a social life and activities. Yet what if parents divorce or the family can no longer afford to drive children to see other children?

While staying true to my dream to one day live off the land, I also realize that humans are social animals and that isolation out in the country would place me in great danger. Finding like-minded people in the city is a lot easier even if I am very poor.

Suburbia is a Plastic Deathtrap.

Suburbia also poses many problems. It puts one in extreme dependence on commodities and resources that one cannot produce by themselves. The house is heated and cooled with electricity, which is very costly. There is no way to collect firewood or scavenge for building material if one is desperately poor and happens to be in survival mode — aesthetic standards are set by people of greater privilege who can afford to cut ties with Mother Nature.

One has to own a house and enjoy a high income to install solar panels and to “go green” and to plant a sufficiently sized kitchen garden in their backyard. It is a luxury that few enjoy.

If you are not a landowner, you often have to pay for energy to ‘heat the street’ as windows leak cold air and no one would replace them for you to save your money. You fight for survival, yet cannot take root. It is like being suspended in plastic hell, which doesn’t keep you warm and resembles a well-decorated desert. 

Landlords would often not let you disturb the grass to plant a garden. Even if they do, building a fertile soil is a very labor-intensive task that takes many years to accomplish. A typical American poor renter doesn’t stay in one place long enough to build up fertile soil. The Suburban ground, with the topsoil layer shaved off, doesn’t always hold water very well.

If all land around you has been stripped of the fertile soil and planted with a lawn, it takes a lot of work and resources to rejuvenate the soil for gardening. American food deserts are covered with lawn grass.

Thus, it may be more demoralizing to be poor in America then in many other places in the world, including some undeveloped nations. One depends on money that is always scarce, while unable to provide for oneself by any other means.

I always wanted to escape suburbia. However, after serving as an unpaid farmhand, technically as a slave, and almost losing fingers on my left hand due to unprofessional and impulsive actions of my exploiter, I cannot find good options.

Seeds Sprout in the Inner City.

The only solution that gives me hope is urban community gardens and urban farms. American cities experience a bagel effect — centers of big cities become abandoned. This opens an opportunity to convert abandoned lots and structures into producing gardens and even farms.

Many community gardens are truly a product of their community. Urban community gardens give local people a place to relax, to connect with Nature that they can’t otherwise access and interact with. It also helps replenish vitamin and mineral deficiency in food desert areas, where people cannot afford healthy greens. Thus it may be easier to grow produce in the city then anywhere else, while staying social. I have met many urban growers and their commitment has always impressed me.

I still have a dream of self-sufficiency and I want to grow my own food.

I hope that more opportunities for people to grow their own food will be available in the future, as more people realize how insecure American suburbia is. It is a very natural tendency for people to plant their yards in times of food shortage, such as the one that we may experience this Summer. Yet it would take so much work to do it in a modern suburban development that it may take more then one season of preparation. This puts many Americans in danger of starvation.

I still have a dream of self-sufficiency and I would like to grow my own food. Now is a good time to dig in the garden, because of social distancing. Yet was unable to find an affordable lot, a reasonable distance away. I hope that more people understand the importance of community gardening as a way to prepare for emergencies and to make their diet more healthy on a budget.

#foodforest #sustainableliving design #homegrown #regenerativeagriculture #homesteading #sustainable garden #potager #vegan #bio #jardin #sustainability #urbangardening #urbangarden #greenthumb farm #homestead #farm garden #FFF #Climatestrike

I had this idea for a water pump several years ago, while living on a farm.

With the resources that I had available, I built a crude prototype of the pump and tested it in the Catoctin Creek:

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=38&dpx=1&t=1586135128The frame was made out of Knex, and the upper pulley was 3D printed. The upper pulley turned out extremely imprecise and wobbly as my 3D print would always come out warped. I had a very low-quality 3D printer.

I can think of many applications for this kind of pump: from irrigation to evaporative cooling to oil spill cleanup.


This is the core principle of a fibrous belt pump:

There are two pulleys with discontinuous surfaces - the contact faces of the pulleys are made out of fins with gaps in between, allowing the water and air to access both sides of the belt.

Those fins can be positioned at an angle or replaced by other kinds of cavities, to take advantage of different physical effects.

A fibrous belt (or a cord) is stretched between the pulleys, like a blade on a bandsaw. One of the pulleys (or both) is connected to a source of power, such as a wind turbine, a paddle wheel, a water-driven propeller or an electric motor.

The most preferable design would use a wind tower / water tower that would duct air to a fixed, horizontal wind turbine. Other designs are possible. I would like to develop a kit with various components for different situations.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=35&dpx=1&t=1586135123Ducted wind turbine: storage water tower can be combined with wind tower.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=33&dpx=1&t=1586135123Fixed horizontal helical wind turbine that would rotate in one direction, regardless of where the wind blows.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=28&dpx=1&t=1586135121Fixed propeller for prevailing winds.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=29&dpx=1&t=1586135122Conventional wind turbine which can rotate with the wind.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=30&dpx=1&t=1586135123Vertical wind turbine.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=31&dpx=1&t=1586135123Pump can also be driven through the lower wheel.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=36&dpx=1&t=1586135123Water-driven propeller.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=34&dpx=1&t=1586135123Paddle wheels.

There are several methods that can be used to separate the water from the belt, once it reaches the top.

Preferable method would be to use air ducts to blow away water, using laminated airflow, in combination with the centripetal force and gravity.

It would be easy to accomplish if there are ducts to direct wind. Otherwise, an additional compressor turbine can be used to blow air at the belt. All of those parts will be cheap as they will be made out of plastic.

A set of rollers with helical grooves or vanes can also be used to strip the water away from the belt, as well.

The exact angle of placement and configuration of this water separator can vary with design and application.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=37&dpx=1&t=1586135126Cross - sectional view of the upper pulley - only one side. Ideally, air should be channeled to blow across the surface of the belt, maybe through the belt as well.

Possible Applications:

  • fire prevention: bush fires, forest fires

  • lift water into reservoir to generate of electricity and flowing water on demand

  • if an elevated tank is combined with a wind tower, this pump can lift water on top of a New York skyscraper, working alongside the conventional pump.

  • as a sump that requires no electricity to lift water

  • as a hurricane - powered doomsday water pump

  • as a deep well pump that has no submerged valves, pistons or solenoids

  • collect cleaner water from stale ponds and swamps

  • water aeration, delivery of air below the water surface

  • lots of opportunity to evaporate Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as water is lifted. Can be used as a remedy for water that is contaminated by fracking.

  • belt may be infused with catalysts

  • to lift corrosive fluids, such as urine

  • in flow batteries — to transport electrolytes

  • for evaporative cooling, desiccant dehumidification — renewable energy-powered HVAC

  • reverse osmosis, desalination, decontamination

  • leaching of minerals from water, enrichment of solutions

  • protein skimming, microorganism harvesting, algae farming

  • permaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics, sustainable agriculture

  • to deliver water to plants or animals — intermediate takeoffs can be established

  • in conjunction with a solar concentrator to heat water, kill microorganism using concentrated sunlight and to improve thermodynamic efficiency of solar collectors by offering evaporative cooling at the end of the cycle

  • recovery of spilled oil products

  • separation by density

  • metering pump for heating fuel oil and other fluids

PROS of this pump design:

    The pump can be:

  • easily designed to resist clogging and to survive or resist freezing

  • optimized for desalination and reverse osmosis of water, optimized for evaporative cooling and desiccant dehumidification of air    (common HVAC tasks), algae farming, CO2 harvesting, biotechnological uses, protein skimming

  • used as a part of humanitarian aid. Requires no high-tech components to operate.

  • fibrous belt or cord can be woven in an industrialized society

This pump design can utilize various renewable energy sources:

  • wind

  • breeze

  • water stream

  • tide (really not renewable)

  • waves

  • electricity from solar panels

  • combination of power sources

  • design uses minimum amount of precision parts, fewer precision parts then traditional oil derricks and windpumps

  • there are no valves (unless a solid-state Tesla valve is used to convert wave energy into unidirectional motion of water to power the pump)

  • device functions at atmospheric pressure - there are no seals or piston rings to wear out

  • worn belt can be examined and replaced without complicated disassembly

  • the design is scalable


  • pulley shafts have to be horizontal

  • either the whole device has to turn with the wind or less efficient wind energy harvesting systems have to be employed

  • separation of fluid from the belt can be a challenge (air, vacuum, centripetal force, mechanical rollers or electricity can be used)

  • water removal system also has to keep water from running down the belt

  • lower wheel bearing is closer to water:

    • magnetic

    • free-floating

    • water-lubricated — impeller-like structures throw water at bearing “races”, ensuring a gap between moving parts.

    • waterproof

    • lower pulley shaft has to remain above the water surface

  • wheels with discontinued surfaces can be made on a 3D printer, yet would require a rather precise injection mold, unless made in segments

  • pump cannot pressurize water by other means than elevation

#organicgarden #organicfarm

#gardening #organic #growyourown #foodforest living   #homegrown

#greenthumb #homestead #homesteading  #bio #compost

In many ways, Frederick County, Maryland represents the Median of America. It extends from the DC Metropolitan area to the countryside which is intersected by the Catoctin Mountain Range. Culturally, there is an overlap of the South, the Appalachia, the Mid-Atlantic and the growing influence of the Capital region. Frederick is home to many immigrant communities. Frederick is an hour away from DC and Baltimore; five major interstate highways intersect here. There is farmland and sprawling suburbia, industry and commerce, as well as our famous Downtown with the Clustered Spires, that has been visited by many foreign leaders, on the way to Camp David.

Our county is rapidly developing — people from the DC Metropolitan Area move to Frederick County for cheaper real estate and lower cost of living. Resulting increase in rent affects Frederick’s native population that doesn’t enjoy the levels of income that are available in the Capital.

Frederick experiences an extreme shortage of affordable housing. For this reason, our county is a home to a growing and extremely underrepresented poor and homeless population, which is served by an oversized, yet dysfunctional welfare system.

Being poor in Frederick (I live here for 19 years) is like being an Indian, waiting to be driven out West to clear the land for a more profitable population to take over. This is not done by guns, as before, yet by the increasing cost of living, more intense policing in poor neighborhoods and by the unreliable welfare system.

Our Municipal and County welfare system receives federal and state grants, sustained by taxes, private donations, as well as grants from the development and gentrification lobby entities such as the Frederick Community Foundation. Those entities successfully walk our welfare leaders in circles, weakening our safety net.

Our Mayor O’Connor understands the problem deeply — in December of 2019, he asked a very corrupt director of the Frederick Community Action Agency to resign.

The mayor receives complaints from all sides: homeless people loitering and driving real estate value down, complaints about excessive policing, concerns of the citizens who speak up for the disadvantaged. He understands that he may be blamed for not solving the problem of impoverishment and homelessness. Yet the surrounding establishment isn’t always cooperative, as their material interests reside over the urgency to help the needy.

After meeting with our mayor on several occasions, I understood how much of a cultural problem it really is. Non-profiteers maintain their parental roles as ‘givers’, yet this comes at a great cost to society: ‘receivers’ are trained into learned helplessness and discouraged from raising to more responsible roles, where they can become productive and contributing members of society and attain their highest creative potential.

Welfare directors are self-congratulatory, they like the local newspaper to print pictures of them planting trees or feeding hungry children. Beneath this bluff, hides the face that poor welfare users see every day: rudeness of lower-level staff and volunteers, suppression of user feedback, inefficiency and embezzlement.

As the gap between rich and poor in America is increasing, the volunteers no longer represent the poor population, as it takes more and more resources to dedicate oneself to uncompensated work. (This gap could be healed by barter economy, yet tax laws limit barter — I will write more about this in the future.) Volunteer — governed boards fall into the hands of pro-gentrification forces and no longer defend the interests of poor clients.

It also seems like there are too many of those welfare-affiliated organizations and too often, after they spend most of their budget on rent, insurance and salaries for the staff, very little money remains for the programs themselves. This appears to be a cultural problem, as directors are expected to receive an upper-middle class wage with benefits, while the poor are expected to get breadcrumbs and to be grateful.Lower-level staff, often composed of people with lived experience, also receives very little pay or recognition. The gap between rich and poor within the welfare sector itself, certainly doesn’t make it more efficient.

It is perceived as an industry standard that a non-profit organization spends 60 to 80% of its budget on wages. Consider this next time you are looking to donate money for a good cause.

I have a great concern that if Bernie Sanders were to become a President of the United States and money would start pouring into welfare, most of it would remain at the top, as it happens right now, alleviating the poverty of those on the bottom of the pyramid only slightly. Concerned taxpayers will react and everything will return to where it is right now, with the election of another Republican president.

Federal law requires all construction thermal insulation to be labeled with a thermal coefficient ‘R’, in order to protect buyers from commercial trickery. Can we do the same to prevent non-profit trickery that costs us so much in taxes and in human lives, making our safety net so unreliable?

Can we measure how much money is spent on wages vs. how much money is spent on programs and mandate that each welfare-affiliated organization has to publish this ratio next to their name? (Some of them may need to be dissolved.)

Can we also require state grant-receiving non-profits to publish the income gap ratio between their lowest-paid and their highest-paid employee?

Otherwise, pathetic pictures of cute kittens, puppies and starving children would always be used to manipulate donors, politicians and voters, while our taxes would always be feeding swarms of not-so-hungry directors with their $70K+ salaries.

In America, you see “fat free” written on the bags of sugar and “sugar free” written on the cans of lard. Is it surprising that the leaders of our welfare-affiliated non-profits tend to behave similarly?

This is my warning to America: I see a deeper cultural problem that cannot be addressed only from the top-down by a miracle worker Executive figure. We already tried that in the past. There has to be a grassroots movement for a more egalitarian welfare system to emerge. A set of good metrics and economic coefficients can aid in deeper analysis of the current situation.

Collectively, tax-guzzling, welfare-affiliated non-profit directors and higher-level staff are fighting to protect their socioeconomic privileges from people like myself. None of them would listen to a person of a lower social strata, who is unhappy with the services or proposes reforms. Influential welfare directors, priests and local officials create events for themselves, where only they can speak, occasionally allowing few promoted clients to read pre-approved compliments.

The most notorious of such events is the Annual Martin Luther King Dinner:

Camera flashes illuminate the faces of our generous “Community Leaders” every few seconds as they speak in coined phrases about “diversity in our community”. There are hardly any black people among them.

Another example is “Frederick Goes Purple”, an opioid awareness event. Poor opioid users are not a part of the preparation. Neither do they receive any extra attention or care from the establishment due to this event, as the true purpose of the event is PR for the priests and directors who organized it. Poor mayor is expected to sign off on such projects as there is no opposition.

One day I walked with an opioid-dependent young man who suffers from chronic pain, (as do I) in Downtown Frederick and he asked me why all those purple lights were strung on the government and charity buildings in February, as Christmas celebration was over. I told him about the other face of our social service system, one that exists for display and for the press; the face that never greets him, as a poor client. I only know this face because I am an activist.

When it comes to grant distribution, our dear non-profiteers do not play well together at all. They compete for grants, as private enterprises compete for contracts. Grants come with Conditions of Award, which often require numbers that show how many people were served. Yet there is no incentive to measure client satisfaction or positive outcomes.

Meanwhile, peer recovery centers could benefit a lot from consensual methods of documenting positive outcomes. Such organizations have a hard time proving their usefulness in the system that values easily obtainable numbers. Despite the burden of scientific evidence that peer support helps people recover and the commitment of peers, peer support remains underappreciated and underfunded. There is a fear within the establishment that peer support will lead to a new Civil Rights movement. For this reason, we encounter a lot of roadblocks as middle-class non-profiteers are too afraid that we would no longer not need them to feed us.

There are too many over-inflated egos in the sphere of social services and they block out the Sun, preventing the grassroots solutions from springing up.

Many thriving welfare services resemble a cattle drive: herding clients through and counting heads becomes a priority that the services are optimized for. All welfare nonprofits have to play by similar rules and the despotic director that our mayor asked to step down, was proficient at playing this game of numbers.

There are two more metrics that could help optimize our welfare and healthcare here in Frederick County, Maryland, as well as in the entire United States of America:

1) How many clients have given up, knowing how difficult it would be to obtain a service.

2) How many clients went on another loop, out of despair. (very important in the mental health world)

These may be guidelines of the World Health Organization — I could not confirm that.

Please write in the comment section, if you know their origin.

I tried to suggest the implementation of the two metrics at various meetings, on multiple occasions and received a lukewarm welcome every time. I have spoken about counting cases 1) and especially 2) against the regular headcount, in order to improve the quality of services. This could help decrease the loopiness that an average client experiences, as well as operational costs. Such metrics would also create an incentive to help clients achieve self-sufficiency and graduate from the programs and into productive life.

How can we expect people to recover if the system itself is so loopy?

I also suggested that our County could obtain vital feedback by making follow up phone calls and asking clients of the 211 phone services about their experience and the usefulness of the advice that they were given. Once again, it felt like I was speaking to a brick wall every time.

It is difficult to attend all the meetings that govern our troublesome welfare system. They happen in different locations, usually during work hours. (This prevents poor, especially working poor citizens who don’t have a car from attending them.) Transportation between welfare services is also a serious challenge that many poor people experience on a daily basis.

I suspect that the problems that I had described are nationwide. If I am right, I expect national support. I have enough material to write a book on this subject.

If some municipality organizes a welfare system too well, a migrating population of poor people from other areas would take advantage of it, shifting public opinion about welfare in the other direction. Perhaps, prioritizing clients who had lived in Frederick County for some years would serve, if we happen to resolve our welfare crisis.

I believe that if our society demanded more vocally, that those who become our welfare directors were to behave as humble servants of the public, we would not have a crisis of the welfare system right now. It would also increase the performance of our safety net during a national emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, there is no place for client feedback in Frederick County welfare system. I have learned how to leverage for attention in order to survive and soon I may be ready to teach this life-saving skill. I had to reach a level of recovery and courage to become so outspoken — this cannot be expected of a guilt-ridden welfare user, such as myself, three years ago.

As a survivor, do I have to chase after our “community leaders” and directors to tell them how to make the system less traumatizing? Or should I make some of them resign their comfy positions, sending a humbling message to others? Only the responsibility for collateral damage prevents me from actively taking down heads.

I have supporters. They range from homeless to executives, yet we are vastly outnumbered. Poor people are afraid to speak out about the system that they depend on for their survival. Executives have to play by the Machiavellian laws of their realm. Thus, it may appear as I am the only one who is bewildered by what I witness in Frederick County.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=39&dpx=1&t=1586137471The inspiration for this drawing came from the attendance of various local government meetings.

I am concerned that our local Frederick, Maryland charities may distribute the donated funds unfairly, during the emergency.

It is very common for our charities to help women with little children and entirely forget about the existence of working poor single men, many of whom are currently our of work and out of pay. This includes poor, working poor, homeless, disabled men of all ages who are struggling to survive in today's economy, often while trying to provide for their families and/or paying child support.

In the post-modern, highly automated world, having a stronger body is only a marginal advantage. The health of those men who struggle in poverty for many years usually declines, leaving them to no advantage at all.

Personally, I found no support from the local charities and county agencies in finding work that would accommodate my physical limitations (severe chronic pain) and very limited support in easing the financial burden of my illness, that falls on me and on my family. For this reason, I was unable to prepare for the disaster properly, and feel vulnerable during a disaster.

There is also the LGBT community, which constantly faces subtle hate and discrimination and to which, the old rulings, based on the stereotypical male and female roles, do not apply.

Thus, I advise that we review the old rules and policies that leave some members of our community very marginalized during the difficult times of the coronavirus outbreak.

-Vladimir Tolskiy

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