Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Shopping Cart is Home

This is the second post of a continuing story of non-traditional living situations. I started this series with my post, A Billion Squatters.

Homelessness has been rising since the 1970's. Several websites I looked at indicate that there are over 3 million homeless in the U.S. The shopping cart has become an iconic object for the urban homeless. It allows them to go from place to place with surprising amounts of stuff. They are easy to find and steal. The shopping cart person can put all their earthly belongings in it and then roll along searching for shelter, food, and whatever. Some of these people could give lessons in innovative loading and packing.

Because of the ubiquity of the shopping cart and its association with the homeless, some designers have come up with the "ultimate" shopping-cart-as-home. Of course, these newly designed carts aren't what a homeless person would find out in the wilds of the city. Some of these newer designs are purely artistic and design projects and others are intended to be given to the homeless for free (the only way they would take one, I'm sure). Donors pay for the carts and they are given away.

The most written about modern cart is the EDAR which is an acronym for Everyone Deserves A Roof. It is a specially designed cart that folds out into a bed with a tent attached to it. The project was started by Peter Samuelson who was amazed by how many homeless people he saw every day in Los Angeles, CA. Apparently L.A. has the most homeless people of any city in the country.  He got the Art Center College of Design to come up with an idea for a mobile living space for the homeless. There has been over 170 of them distributed to the homeless so far. It's not intended as a solution to homelessness, just something that could help these people a bit in the short term.

Another cart was created by designer Gregor Timlin. It converts into a shelter. .It was designed for a specific group of homeless that collect bottles or cans to recycle, thereby making some money. It's pretty cool looking.. The downside is you have to unload all your stuff in order to sleep in it.  I tried to go to his website, gregortimlin.com,  but it wouldn't load. See more pictures of the Shelter Cart.

I would guess that some of the people receiving one of these specialized carts might be suspicious of them. They are pretty cool - cool enough to steal. One of the advantages of a regular shopping cart is they are less likely to be stolen and, if someone's cart is stolen, easy to replace.

In 2006 European design ezine, Designboom, announced a contest to design a Shelter In A Cart. Some interesting designs came from that. Only a few of the designs did not require you to remove all your belongings before sleeping in them.

It's a sad state of affairs that there are so many homeless people in the U.S. They do what they have to to meet their basic needs and the shopping cart is one of the ways they do it.

Next report: Cardboard Houses. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Man Arrested at Large Hadron Collider Claims to be From the Future

 Check out this news article. My favorite line in the article:
"Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell. Police are baffled, but not that bothered."
Missed by most people who commented on the article was the fact that the article was dated April 1st. Wouldn't it be cool if it was true, though?