Lori Dennis: A Comfortable Solution to the Homeless Epidemic

In her Ted X Santa Barbara talk, interior designer Lori Dennis took center stage to provide a comfortable solution to the homeless epidemic: furniture. After years of charitable donations to shelters and even direct giving of goods to the homeless, she grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of results, while the homeless population in her hometown of Los Angeles continued to grow. That’s when she discovered local organizations like Pen & Napkin and A Sense of Home Org – organizations that partner with the design community to furnish the homes of those transitioning out of homelessness. Her talk stresses the importance of segmenting the homeless population to cut down on overwhelm and provide more effective, long term solutions and the pride in ownership individuals have them their homes are furnished. Watch now:

Liz Murray: Homeless to Harvard

From living on the streets of NYC to studying at Harvard, Liz Murray’s story is truly inspirational. Her Ted Talk emphasizes getting to the psychological root of homelessness and how important a belief in possibility to succeed and change is in putting and end to homelessness across American cities. She was fascinated by the question ‘What is it inside of a person that motivates them to take action?’ And how can we help people in need get there? In her talk, she demonstrates how we can teach someone to refuse labels like ‘homeless person,’ in order to prime their brains to begin exploring other possibilities. Watch now:

Richard J Berry: Work + Safety

Richard J. Baum takes an incredibly practical and urban designer’s type of approach to his solution to combat homelessness. Building trust in the community is key to breaking through to panhandling populations. In his Ted Talk, he illustrates the ways his program offering day jobs empowered homeless across Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also provides sage advice on how to donate to help – $5 handed to an individual may buy them a meal that day, but that same $5 donated to a food pantry can be better optimized to serve tens of people, for example. He also speaks to the dignity in jobs and housing selection. Like Lori and Liz, he gets to the motivating mental factors – the discovery of possibility is key here. Watch now:

Jamal Mechbal: Fighting Homelessness, My Way

Jamal makes the point that most homeless people look just like you and I – but the mental image that ‘homelessness’ conjures up is one of the “crazy” bag lady soiled and rambling to herself. Making this distinction is key to understanding how we can segment the homeless population to cut down on the overwhelm of trying to discover a one-size-fits-all solution to the crisis. His ted talk delves into the chain reaction that can cause a seemingly ‘normal’ person to spiral into an unfortunate situation resulting in homelessness and posits that an insurance, like medical insurance, may be the solution necessary to homelessness prevention. Could this be the way of giving people a chance to help themselves? Watch now:

Anne Mahlum: Running Forward

Empowerment is also at the center of Anne Mahlum’s Ted talk. She chronicles her personal history with her gambling-addicted father, who while attentive to her and her siblings, was leading a double life that destroyed her family’s faith in stability. Always an athlete, she turned to running as a source of empowerment to get her through, eventually leading her to organize a running club for the local homeless population. The results were incredible – as she lays out the mental and physical transformations that take place within athletes training. It’s for Type A, perfectionists, competitive people-prideful people. What she discovered through this work was that often noone thinks to give homeless people standards of excellence and by shifting away from a traditionally patronizing approach, they too can be empowered to improve their lives. Watch now: