A Open Letter to our friends and potential friends

Dear Friends,

With Thanksgiving just past it seems almost too obvious to start a letter requesting your financial support with my own expressions of thanks and gratitude. It crosses my mind that it may come across as cliché and I worry that it may sound insincere. And yet, when I think about the Camp Take Notice community gratitude and thanks are the first thoughts that come to mind.

 Being recently houseless myself I am deeply thankful to my friend who opened up her own house to me, creating not only a safe and dry place to live, but a true feeling of home. I am thankful for a closet filled with warm sweaters, a basket full of clean dry socks and a decent pair of shoes to protect my feet as Michigan turns cold and wet.  I am grateful for a car that gets my to a job not accessible on the bus line.

 Yet, what I find myself most aware of right now, is how very thankful I am for the Camp Take Notice (CTN) community itself: a community that mourns together, and celebrates together, that gratefully and graciously accepts what support and help I can offer, and gives so much in return. CTN is a community that truly enriches my own life. Friends who not only give rides to the airport, a listening ear, and share in problem solving, but who also fix my car so I can keep getting to work, help with pet care and other daily life challenges. Friends who will join me in working to make our larger community a better place – whether by sharing the food, blankets, and resources we have with others or by participating cleaning up roadways and churches.

 What a blessing it is to be part of the CTN community!

 Won’t you consider being a part of this community as well? We need your help and support. Although the camp does not have a physical location at this point there is still such a need.

There are still people sleeping outside who need tents, blankets, socks, coats, water,propane heaters, propane for those heaters, water, batteries…. the list goes on and on.  

Let me pause and back up a minute there to say again… there are still people sleeping outside. Evicting camp didn’t make the need go away, it just made it less visible. The fact that there are still people every night seeking a small bit of shelter under church overhangs, sleeping under bridges and in isolated spots around the county is a clear sign that a new camp is needed.

Additionally, with the physical community scattered after the eviction from the Wagner Road site… many removed from critical support services and meal programs bus tokens remain an important need.

But beyond these very real and time sensitive needs, when the time comes and the place presents itself to get a new camp up and running we will need to have the financial resources in place to move quickly. 

Simply put. The need is great, and your financial support is critical. It is just as critical now as it ever has been, perhaps even more so. 

Can you make a contribution today? Will you?  Your tax deductable donation can be mailed to:

MISSION 1327 White Street  Ann Arbor, MI 48104

 Or you can donate electronically via http://tentcitymichigan.org/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           With deep appreciation,                        

Sheri Wander, For the MISSION board

 PS – In many of our faith traditions we are entering a time of year when folks enjoy giving gifts. Consider making a donation in the name of someone you love.  Let us know and we can send them a card. 



A Camp Take Notice Thanksgiving

Last Sunday (25 Nov. 2012 ) the Camp Take Notice community came together to celebrate Thanksgiving!  New friends currently sleeping outside in scattered and isolated areas, joined with former campers some now in housing and a host of supporters to enjoy a meal, and one another’s company.  It was great to see old friends who haven’t been able to make Sunday meetings, to welcome back the CTN New Jersey team and to spend time with new friends

what a beautiful couple!

what a beautiful couple!

Old friends catching up before the meal

Old friends catching up before the meal

New CTN friends share yummy food and good conversation

New CTN friends share yummy food and good conversation

Lola and Alanzo catch up before dinner

Lola and Alanzo catch up before dinner

David Williams, master chef, pauses for a photo

David Williams, master chef, pauses for a photo

sharing photos from the NJ trip

sharing photos from the NJ trip

David and Peggy; proud, happy cooks and good friends!

David and Peggy; proud, happy cooks and good friends!




Like to laugh?

And don’t forget there is a fun and easy way to support Camp Take Notice…


Like to Laugh? Join us at Comedy for a Cause III

Saturday 1 December 7:00 PM

UAW Local 182

35603 Plymouth Rd.

Livonia, MI 48150

Tickets just $20!

call Steve Boron to purchase tickets for yourself, or to sponsor a camper 


The team returns


The CTN Hurricane Relief Team at the tent city in New Jersey

The Camp Take Notice hurricane relief team returned to Washtenaw County Friday night tired and happy with the memories of new friends met, good work done, strengthened community bonds. Check back here soon for more reports from the individual team members as they share the stories of their work. In the mean time, enjoy a few more photos  from the team….

Ripping out wet drywall creates a huge amount of (very heavy) garbage. The CTN team came prepared with a trash bags, a van for hauling and a willingness to do some heavy lifting: The CTN Team was hosted by a tent community in Lakewood, New Jersey. The group was excited to see the innovate structures, heating systems and other creative ways the NJ campers made life a little more comfortable.  As CTN looks  to purchase land (you can help… contact us if you’d like to make a donation!) and set up a new camp here I am sure we will make use of what we learned in Lakewood!

boxwood stove inside a tent and the view from outside

When we’re not busy in New Jersey…

A pause in the updates from the crew in New Jersey to remind you a bit about Camp Take Notice and MISSION (the nonprofit that supports it.)…… 

Welcome to Camp Take Notice….

Camp Take Notice was a grassroots tent city of homeless people that resided  in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A democratic, self-governing tent community offers an alternative approach to the traditional government and private systems that provide shelter and basic resources for the homeless. CTN’s emphasis on community sets it apart from other services.  The idea is that this type of homegrown effort is necessary for sustainably meeting the needs of homeless individuals.

The community tent

In June of 2012 the camp was evicted from the (otherwise unused) parcel of land on which it had been located for a little over years.

Campers and supporters protested the eviction and the use of tax payer dollars to put up a fence to keep people out of the vacant property

(That site, now fenced off , is now unused and vacant.) While the physical community was scattered, the spirit of the community remains strong. ” Camp Take Notice in exile” (Former campers: some now in housing, some still living outside in more isolated situations ) come together weekly with supporters and other community members for weekly meals and meetings. In this way the community continues to: * support one another (one recent meeting included a wedding!)

A CTN Wedding

* to reach out to other homeless individuals in the area (particularly those living outside ) and provide physical support with such necessary items at tents, sleeping bags, propane, batteries etc. (see the “get involved” page for a list of current needs. ), as well as information and connections to services. * To search for (and raise money to purchase) property in order to host a new camp * To  connect  people with resources and to provide the space for homeless and homeful individuals to get to know one another, work on community service    projects together (such as the recent trip to Brick, New Jersey to help with hurricane relief. ) and support one another as community. MISSION, the nonprofit organization that supports Camp Take Notice was founded to be a partnership between homeless and “homeful” Washtenaw County residents collaborating to support self governing tent communities in Michigan. We recognize that outdoor itinerant shelter, such as tent cities, have persisted throughout America ‘s history, largely as collaborative grassroots solutions to socio-economic hardship. They do not go away by ignoring them, marginalizing them, or even prosecuting them, and in fact, provide a much needed service that deserves support.

interpretation in sign language is an important part of camp meetings

In other words, while the Camp Take Notice site is currently “in limbo”, the Camp Take Notice Community is alive and well! 

Folks can donate to this work by visiting https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=9-LrtRmrQpV9RMuAjv1NCSlonZ7X-2nayMYZ0BQG9TgRrTab5cNJB37TODe&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8d0b7e678a25d883d0fa72c947f193f8fd


Some words from the CTN crew in NJ

A work in progress

From Glen:  “It is somewhat what I expected, but better. When I heard about the group we’d be volunteering with and that they served 1,00o meals in a day I thought it would be long lines of people and just dishing out food. But it has been so much more! It is much more intimate so we get a chance to know the people we are working with.  As far as the work goes, it is the type of work I expected Demolition and clean up. Ripping out dry wall, tearing out carpet, moving stuff.” Today (Monday) we were working gutting the bottom part of a house.  We also helped move a bunch of stuff from the attic and the garage. We worked with an elderly man and there were decades and generations worth of stuff. It triggered all kinds of memories for him. People have been very welcoming to us. When you are helping others without expecting in return you get lots of support and you feel good about yourself and everything.”

Alanzo, who worked with Glen added “we’re ripping out drywall and pulling up floors. Meeting nice people. There are nice people in NJ

A working lunch

Ryan, who spent time doing relief work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina echoed the sentiments that it is going well: ” It’s  goin’ good. I’m  not surprised at the type of work, it’s what we did after Katrina. ”  When asked about the advantages of traveling with Camp Take Notice he said “the advantage to traveling w CTN is the transportation and getting me here. Also Having a smaller group to work with  and people who aren’t complete strangers is good.  There are a  lot of people here  with PTSD. They’ve been in a trauma.  As they struggle with what to keep and what  is damaged beyond saving it is mentally taxing.  We can support them and each other. Everyone here  has been so accepting of us. Not concerned if we’re homeless, just that we want to help.”

From Rachel: “It is amazing how people are working  together as a team. Today I worked with  Glenn and we served with Joe,  a 90 yr old man who has been sleeping in the car since his house is flooded. Joe  lives alone.  At first he was wary – not knowing us and wondering “who  are we?”. By later  today we were singing songs with  him and reminiscing. It is much more than  the physical work. It is also just being present.   ”

A FB Post from our new friends at Brick Hurricane Relief

A personal Note: I wanted to join the CTN crew heading to NJ, but was unable to go due to commitments here. After offering support during the prep and packing I’ve been “living vicariously” through them w/ daily phone calls in order to update the blog and such. Hearing how impressed the group is with the amazing folks at Brick Hurricane Relief I was particularly moved to read the following message posted by Brick Hurricane Relief organizers on their Facebook page:

“I want to tell you about our missionaries. All I knew is that they were from Michigan, organized by an artist group. They insisted on staying at tent city( homeless community 15 minutes from here, you should check it out on YouTube or in person, it’s humbling ) and I could not understand why at first. But after meeting them and hearing their stories , we get it…… Some of them are from the homeless community in Michigan( camp Take Notice)They raised money, not to build homes for them, but to come help us with ours. I have never been so moved in my life. Thank you is not enough to express the gratitude to these men and women for their selfless act.”

I am really proud of my CTN community, who in spite of challenges and struggles seem to embody the concept of  “ubuntu” a concept taught to me by a friend from South Africa, loosely meaning “I am because we are.”

Patti (Brick organizer) along with Caleb enjoy a meal at the tent city in NJ