Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dream Log: A Piece of Urban Real Estate, Status Uncertain

I dreamed that I and a few other poor people were living in abandoned cars parked on a rectangular patch which was about fifty yards wide and jutted out about twenty yards, like a cliff, from the middle of the downtown of a city with many tall buildings. One of the fifty-yard-long sides of the area was level with the developed city around it; off of the other three sides, there was a fifty-foot drop to another relatively-flat area covered with limited-access roads.

At the beginning of the dream there were three abandoned vehicles on this patch of ground, and five of us living in them. But more people kept moving in, some bringing vehicles or tents with them.

It was entirely unclear how much the ground we were living on was man-made and built up from the lower level, and how much had been there, with the upper level of ground, before humans built anything there. The mix of concrete and earth, and of jumbles of pipes and trees sticking out from the concrete and earth, made it very hard to tell which was more primary, and which had been added on.

At some point it started to seem to me like a good idea to encourage the homeless people who were passing through to stay and to build up actual homes here, and to invite other people to do the same. There was a vague feeling that developers were going to come and claim the -- the land? the building? whatever it was -- and have us all kicked out. They hadn't tried to do that so far, but it seemed to me that the more of us there were, and the more we had done to make the place a real home, the harder it would be to remove us, when and if someone tried.

Someone donated some solar panels and batteries to us, and soon that led to our having electrical heat on cold nights, and cold for storing food, and heat for cooking it without having to build a campfire. Some lawyers started working building a case for our right to stay, when and if someone challenged that right. We started to hold free classes on engineering, architecture and law, and used what we learned in those classes to strengthen our hold on the area, physically and legally.

Television news crews stopped in now and then to film and to talk to us. Republicans sometimes yelled and threw rocks or beer cans at us out of the windows of their trucks as they drove past on the street adjacent to and level with us. Democrats walked past and were much friendlier. Often they waved and flashed peace signs or held up clenched fists. Sometimes they stopped to talk.

No one was charged any money to stay there as long as they wanted, or to eat some of our food, or to take something else if they needed or wanted it: clothes, or books, or a phone, or what have you. It got to the point where the thing which most frequently made people want to move on was overcrowding. Ordinarily, I'm one of the first to feel crowded. But in this place, my fascination with everything that was going on outweighed my discomfort over the crowding.

A lot of what was going on was high-level education. It had started out with engineering, architecture, law and medicine, for purposes of the self-preservation of the community, and although classes quickly branched out into many other subjects, those four areas remained prominent among the things we taught. It had started out with people coming and helping us, but soon we were going out into the city to help people install solar power or repair their dwellings, or to represent them in court, or to check on their physical health, or to volunteer in other ways.

One area of the law in which we soon became well-known was advocating in favor of the legalization of marijuana. Some of the people who lived with us began to complain about the pot smoke, and so we agreed to smoke pot only in one designated area, which was designed to ventilate and blow the smoke away from the rest of the community, puffing merrily out through a smokestack and carried by the prevailing winds safely away from those who chose not to partake. If you wanted to get high, and you went to the designated smoking area, at some times it wasn't necessary to puff on anything, because enough people were in there going to town on bongs and joints, and the smoke was so thick, that if you just stood or sat there for a few minutes, you'd definitely get high.

Vegans were very prominent in our community. Some of them, unfortunately, were intolerant in their rhetoric about non-vegans. It was very tiresome. On the other hand, they made vegan food which, everyone agreed, was amazingly delicious.

I had begun there as a homeless person who'd crawled into an abandoned car to try to keep from freezing to death. But soon -- despite the overcrowding, which was definitely an issue for me -- it became the best home I had ever had.

And then I woke up.

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