America offers us and the world the opportunity to explore enticing possibilities. In GAIA’S MAJESTY TRILOGY (available for purchase on amazon .com) we explore how the potential of our world can be brought to bear under the care of empowered women guided by our earth spirit mother Gaia. And then there can be explorations of the “real world” such as in the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH BY ROGER B. BURT, Ph.D.
Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health
Part II of the Inner City Adventures
Part of my job was to go on “home visits” which also involved going to the high rise public housing. Such housing involved government. It did not mean conditions were better than what I found in ordinary housing. From my standpoint it just meant there might be an office to go to for information. They might be offering guidance to their residents – or not. They could tell me their concerns in terms of help needed but not necessarily the conditions or what might be needed in a broad sense. I had to conclude that I simply was to make an assessment about the residents of a given unit or possibly offer assistance of various kinds. Sometimes I think they knew what the problem was but wanted me to go in unawares and to assess.
The office doors in the high rises were frequently locked which was an indication of conditions in themselves. Not all conditions were always dangerous conditions but it typically meant the office staff might not have to face the monumental problems of impoverished people on an ongoing basis.
After the initial contact at the government office and I got the referrals and it was up to me to take on the adventure of the high rises.
Here is an example of what I found. Sometimes the staff inthe high rise would tell me what the problem was and where it was. But, in fact I often had little information. The elevators were generally not working. That was acceptable since I was not thrilled at the possibility of being enclosed with threatening or dangerous people. So routinely I went to the bottom of each staircase, listened and then sniffed the air. On that basis I would make my choice about which staircase to use.
These visits were an adventure and produced vastly different experiences and outcomes. Some were useful quiet visits where I had referrals and gave information. Then there were other kinds. Here is an example.
There was one high rise frequently visited because they typically had families in need of my type of assessment. So I was pleased to take their referral.
On one occasion they told be there was a unit on the seventh floor where residents were complaining about noise and excessive activity. So I made my assessment of the stair options and climbed up. When I knocked on the door a young woman opened the door. There were two young children behind her. Nothing extraordinary. She invite me in and placed a chair in the center of the living room which seemed a little odd.
She left the room and shortly an older woman came out dressed in a house coat. She greeted me calmly and took the seat. I explained to her the reason for my visit. Then there was a pause. Shortly her housecoat fell open revealing no undergarments.
I knew instantly I had a major decision to make. I could stand up and flee or I could further explain to her the upset report on the floor and the complaints expressed by other residents. Silently she studied me, then thanked me for my visit and closed up her housecoat. I thanked her for her time and left. For some reason I did not report to the office the conditions of my visit.
The following week I stopped by the office checking to see if there were more referrals. They reported that the seventh floor had quieted considerably. Clearly my visit with the woman who I considered to be the madam of the three young women I saw had decided it was in her interest to tighten control.
Such were the adventures of inner city neighborhoods although mostly the visits were uncomplicated and reasonably useful and productive.