Sears Lane encampment neighbors

This morning before opening time there was a Sears encampment guy outside who wanted to talk about access to the wood shop hand tools. Jody and I told him to come back at 10am and talk with the volunteer, but if we are to be honest what we actually did was fob him off onto someone else, and I don’t feel great about this. BTW, Jody and I consider ourselves “socialists” and are card carrying Democratic Socialists of America members.

So my question to y’all is whether or not the folks in the encampment are our “neighbors”, and how should we interact with them?

Jody and Dennis

I see significant issues just from a tool safety standpoint alone, independent of being neighbors. We don’t allow anybody to pick up even a hand tool without first completing a member initiation which includes lots of safety information - not specifically about the tool, but about fire extinguishers, first aid kits, volatile organic compounds, etc. In general a Generator member can volunteer to do the work for them or for anyone else, but my understanding is that non-members can not use any Generator tools, whether under supervision or not.

If the issue is loaning tools, I think that is a project for the Fletcher Free Library, not Generator.

-Bill Gottesman

I wasn’t clear - our concern was not about loaning tools or even letting them inside (which we wouldn’t do for anybody), but rather more generally about if generator should engage with the encampment folks, and if so then how. I guess that just by the fact that we’re posting this means that Jody and I think that we should - without knowing what that engagement would look like.

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Hi Dennis,
Thank you for sending this message Dennis and Jody. I know this hasn’t been clear for everyone and either way is a complex challenge.
To answer the person’s question: Generator’s tools are for members only if someone is interested in membership there are two options: General Membership is $95/month and Volunteer Membership is $40/month. Outside of these options our tools can not be used by ANY neighbor (encampment or otherwise) due to liability. The most helpful answer if this question comes up again is: Generator can’t offer use of our tools to anyone that is not a paying member of Generator. They need to understand that we are a different kind of entity from some other neighbors- not a private garage with private tools that someone can lend to a person in need. That might not be clear at first sight.

As for whether or not the encampment is a neighbor that we interact with…
Generator’s first and foremost responsibility when it comes to this question is SAFETY! We are not an organization that is set up to support those without homes or to help solve homelessness, mental health and/or addiction. Therefore, Generator needs to recognize our location and how it affects all of us at Generator and our sense of safety. Please keep in mind that we have many types of members & guests: kids, women, teens, etc. I name women here because as a woman, I am quite aware how some experiences can be quite different for us and not everyone is aware what you might be inviting in for the rest of us.

As the Director of Generator, I can tell you that, personally, I have a lot of empathy for those without homes and those who struggle with mental health and addiction, but professionally, I must make a boundary here because we don’t have the expertise to safely support this population. I am asking all members to consider this boundary as a boundary that is drawn to keep our community of makers safe. So yes, we are neighbors, but NO we can’t be the kind of neighbor that is inviting, giving and sharing with the encampment. (we can’t share our electricity, our tools, our yard, our lunch, or anything else). We can’t create a pathway from here to there because even if YOU feel safe, it may not be the case for the rest of our community. What happens at the encampment is not welcomed at Generator.

If you have any questions, please email me at director@generatorvt.com

Again, Dennis and Jody, thank you for bringing this question up. I will take some time at our next membership meeting to address this topic and answer questions, ask questions etc.

Thank you,
Meg