A Visit to an American Tent City

by | Mar 11, 2011 | Headline News | 32 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    Reading the headlines over the last eighteen months one would think that the recession of 2008 is all but over. Unemployment, officially, is on the mend, with a reported 9.5% of Americans unable to find work (as opposed to official Great Depression numbers as high as 25%). Foreclosures seem to be stabilizing. Gross domestic product is in positive growth territory, signaling forward progress in the economy. Inflation, according to the latest Consumer Price Index statistics, is under control.

    “The worst of the storm has passed,” declared President Obama in his 2010 State of the Union address. For all intents and purposes, any threat of a second great depression has been averted.

    But what is depicted by our media and the official statistics put forth by government number crunchers, and what is happening on the ground on Main Street America, are two wholly different things.

    Doug Walden, who lost his job during the onset of the recession, and now spends a good portion of his time helping others who are out of work or facing dire economic straits through his loosely-based organization called the Great Depression Enterprise Group explained it best when he described the desperate situation facing average Americans:

    Here on Earth, outside the distorting intellectual gravitation field that is Washington DC, conditions are deteriorating for increasing numbers of Americas. The middle-class is being eroded from the bottom, as more people fall into poverty and outright destituion, and from the top, as more people find they cannot maintain their debt-financed psuedo-rich pre-2005 lifestyles.

    Recently, Doug spent a day in one of the many “tent cities” popping up around America. These modern equivalents of the Hoovervilles of the 1930’s were believed to be relics of a different time – a time where there existed no social support structure or regulatory oversight of financial markets and banking institutions. After the Great Depression, the extreme poverty experienced by millions in post-1929 America was all but forgotten. For most in today’s generation, the thought of living without 21st century amenities like on-demand electricity, sewage, refrigeration, air conditioning, heat, and the other conveniences of suburban lifestyles does not even enter into the sphere of thought. It is a different time, and such a thing can’t happen today.

    The reality, however, is in stark contrast to the dogma of a debt driven, consumer-based society.

    Doug Walden has seen it with his own eyes. He’s spent time talking to those individuals who have lost everything and have nowhere else to go. Doug, in his own words, describes his experience below:

    I met with Minister Brigham yesterday at his Homeless Tent City in a wooded area of Lakewood, New Jersey. (See attached pictures)

    My initial, impression was one of shock and dread. Shock at seeing something I never thought I would see in America; Dread at the feeling in my gut that I was glimpsing my (an my loved ones) Future.

    However, after meeting Minister Brigham and walking through the community, I feel oddly comfortable and guardedly optimistic. Minister Steve Brigham has been helping the homeless for 11 years and operating this camp for 4. It has grown significantly over the last 2 years.

    Listening to Steve was like reading “The Long Emergency;” he gets re-scaling, localizing and living within rational environmental limits. He’s on the front-line of the collapse of Cheap-Energy American Society.

    The camp is set back 200 feet into a wooded area. It consists of about 30 structures: a few school buses, lean-tos, tents and more elaborate structures (designed with great ingenuity), a common/community building. One circular home had a solar array to power LED lights. They have a generator for the “office”, bath/laundry facilities and common area. The bath/laundry building has a 45ft deep well, propane hotwater heater, sink & shower, and a washer and dryer.

    There are about 45 residents. Most were working poor cast off in the Great Recession; but the newer residents come from the lower end of the middle-class. People who had homes, jobs and “secure” lives and now have nothing.

    This is not a place I would choose to live, but, if necessary it is a place I could live. These people have faced a crisis most Americans have yet to experience and have come together, with the guidance and help of a kind smart man, and designed and established an effective way to Survive and Adapt to a sick dying economy. They are nice quiet people who, in spite of their old lives being destroyed, have retained their dignity and humanity.

    It was an Oddly Uplifting Day.

    Doug Walden
    Asbury Park, New Jersey

    Images from an American Tent City

    As mentioned in his letter, Mr. Walden took numerous photographs while on site. He has been kind enough to share them with our readers.

    A sign greets residents and visitors. It reads: “We are a community. Please respect the community…Yourself…And Others…Thank you!!!”

    Shelters and community areas are distributed throughout the area:

    Bath / Laundry / Water Building:

    Wood is the primary heating fuel:

    A variety of shelters built from available materials, with energy efficiency in mind:

    Minister Brigham’s shelter re-purposes an old school bus and comes complete with Wifi, electricity and wood stove:

    Preparing a garden for the growing season:

    While Americans argue amongst themselves over wages, union bargaining rights, government spending, monetary easing, and a host of other issues, including who’s to blame for the country’s malaise, Minister Brigham and his community trudge on, despite what’s happening outside of their neighborhood microcosm. As millions struggle to hold on to the American Dream, the residents of this New Jersey “Tent City” have already experienced loss, and the emotional roller coaster that inevitably follows. They’ve gone through the first four stages of loss – denial, anger, bargaining, depression. In a situation where everything has been lost, and hope seemingly doesn’t exist, only the fifth stage, acceptance, becomes applicable. These individuals and families have accepted what has happened, and understand that they have a choice. Either give up and wallow in regret and blame. Or, empower oneself, and those around you, and move forward by whatever means are available.

    Doug Walden is an advocate for those millions of Americans who are no longer being counted by the official statistics. Facing the real possibility of never finding meaningful labor due to a job market that has been completely gutted, Doug took it upon himself to not only provide assistance to those around him who needed help getting their bearings straight, but to learn from those who are finding ways to not only cope, but thrive during hard times.

    For his part, Doug has yet to find employment in the traditional sense of the word. But this has proved to be just a minor obstacle in his push to mitigate personal economic collapse. In addition to working with friends, family and acquaintances in an effort to help those in his support group recover and move forward, Doug has started his own business, offering green energy residential services in a socially responsible and charitable manner, and is actively pursuing the creation of online support groups for those who have been adversely affected by our modern day depression.

    Americans are rugged individuals – and when pushed into a corner we often find a way to push ourselves right out of it. This is what makes us exceptional. Going it alone is certainly admirable. But working within a support community of family, friends, and like-minded thinkers may prove to be a more expedient and efficient way for those in distress to achieve personal success. To contact Doug and discuss your personal situation, thoughts and ideas, you can email him at [email protected].


    It Took 22 Years to Get to This Point

    Gold has been the right asset with which to save your funds in this millennium that began 23 years ago.

    Free Exclusive Report
    The inevitable Breakout – The two w’s

      Related Articles


      Join the conversation!

      It’s 100% free and your personal information will never be sold or shared online.


      1. Wait until the hungry hordes descend.
        Anything within 100 miles of an interstate is basically doomed.

      2. It’s the loss that most people are worried about – people who are used to having “something” then are left with “nothing” – they are depressed.  But when you go from nothing to something – in this case, a sense of community and a place to pitch a tent, cook a meal, wash your clothes, then you will feel that your situation has improved.
        It’s all perspective.  The problem here is that if we end up with huge solar storms and a pole shift, the only survivors long term will be those in underground bunkers, caves, and other fortified bunkers, or who are extraordinarily “lucky” to be in the right place at the right time.
        So let’s hope these scenarios of global Armageddon are overly dire, and assume that our more mundane preparing will get us through the mainly economic disaster looming.
        And if the water starts rising, Yellowstone explodes, the poles shift and cause electromagnetic mayhem, and the sun starts going off with massive CMEs, then “say your prayers, rabbit” or go into your four foot thick concrete bunker to wait it out (make sure your seeds are shielded from the radiation so they will germinate when the dust settles and the sun shines again).

        • You obviously have no experience of losing everything to Monster Banks and Politicians

      3. well said, michelle!

      4. this message is for the us gov agency attacking my comp systems / networks and now blocking / filtering me from Comments…..



        F U !






      5. GOOGLE – “”GOLDEN HORDE””



      6. That is proof positive of two things
        1)  The people will not come together BEFORE they are forced.
        2)  The people WILL come together once forced to do so.
        The good thing about living in a tent city would be that there is nobody to compete with.  The people there are not trying to outdo each other by having more stuff, or better stuff.  They are materially equal.
        In that environment people can prosper as people.  That is what human life is about in the real world.  We will see that as the fake world collapses.
        It doesn’t mean you can’t have a house and prosperity in the real world.  But in that environment you will only become prosperous if you produce something of value.
        That is why there is no Tent City Bank and Trust.

      7. I’ll bet they have their own unspoken law.

      8. Here in california we have out tent camp as well. But we found a way to make money and now we have a generator plenty of fuel storage and are eating steak 2 times a week .We also have marujuana grow cards .We have a good sized plantation of marijuan plants that will be prime bud and this year its a seedless variety from the bay area . We are plannning to plant really soon now .Last year brought in about 25k so were planting double this year with plants that have bigger yields so expecting maybe 70 k this october .This will provide us with more food and supplies, updated tmets and stoves  and wer going  to have hot water showers provided by a proane system that is mobile  .We also have men and womens porta potties that we currently are easing out at a good price . You just gotta love america !!!!!!!

      9. A sense of community can also be engendered by a lending library, a school, a place of worship.

      10. It must be an alful feeling when you’re homeless and know that things are not going to get any better in this country or the rest of the world for decades.
             I could see this coming back in the early 70s when the first small family farms and Mon and Pop stores and business’s were being sold off.
           Wonder what ever happened to some of those big stores?, Ames, Zares, now i remember, Walmart and China mover in.

      11. I know it can’t be the easiest life but at least they’re not packed, like rats, into a smelly city apt. building with a bunch of low lifes. I would imagine, based upon the caliber of the people of course, that there is a notable degree of dignity, respect and decorum that surrounds this community. I can’t imagine anybody gets away with loafing b/c there are no liberals around to give him or her an excuse; kicking someone in the ass for not cleaning up after his or her self is probably protocol! 

      12. I don’t see many people leaving comments about the article written.  Just a bunch of jabba jabba.  What exactly has this guy doug donated to these people?  Did he buy them food? Blankets, clothes, a doctor? How is he going to supply them with electric or whatever his company does?  Or is he using this site to advertise for his company for free like so many other people are doing?
        If anyone wants to help maybe they will get the tent people off their feet by getting them a job and a safe place to sleep.
        I see people in CA took it upon themselves to make a living even though they probably shouldn’t be selling it but they do have medical permission to use it.  At least they are trying.
        Give them all drug tests and a mental evaluation and see which ones will actually do something to improve their lives.  Why don’t their relatives take them in and help them.  Lots of families are pairing up and making ends meet that way.

      13. Insanity,  
         where are these Jobs you are talking about?Wake up and get out in the real word, people with masters degrees can’t get a job picking corn.
        “””Give them all drug tests and a mental evaluation and see which ones will actually do something to improve their lives.  Why don’t their relatives take them in and help them.  Lots of families are pairing up and making ends meet that way.””””
         duh, where is the money going to come from for these programs,We’re sinking now from liberal programs.  maybe some people don’t want to be a burden to their family

      14. Its a shame that employers are getting away with paying people less money but they will take someone who does have a masters over someone who has no education.  People need to suck it up and take the jobs at less pay until the economy gets better.  I took a job at 1/2 my salary in order to survive.  I have gotten rid of all my credit cards and minimized my spending and become very conservative.  I am still in my home and making ends meet.  I’m not living on borrowed money and don’t expect to live beyond my means like most people do.  There are jobs out there.  Has anyone looked at the job websites?  Its a matter of lowering your standards to get a job at lesser pay.  My neighbor will not settle for less money than what he has been earning the past 10 years and his unemployment is going to run out soon.  His stubbornness is going to get him into a lot more trouble than he thinks.
        And 25% of the people who live on the street have some sort of mental issue.  I think people need to get educated on what is personally going on with some people that they can’t figure it out.
        To many people talk about doing something no one seems to be taking action.  I’ve donated furniture that I don’t use and clothes from different members of my family that we don’t wear to different places that will actually give it to poor families.  I’ve enabled a friend of mine to dress her children for an entire year without her having to spend money by asking around to people who can donate clothes.  Her salary is minimal but this helped her and the kids were grateful.  As a community we’ve also given food to people who are struggling.  It can be done.

      15. It looks to me like an accident waiting to happen and a forest fire looking to break out. A very dangerous situation I think.

      16. Insanity. I am trying to build a business; a business that may help people like those in the Tent City. I am also giving blackets and food (even though I and my girlfriend are on the edge of Ruin) AND I am trying to Donate my 4,200 square foot home (of 25 years) in Asbury Park, New Jersey to MINISTER BRIGHAM’S Non-Profit for his use as a Refuge for some of these formerly Middle-Class homeless people. I want to create and Economic Incubator where these people can heal -emotional and financially- and feel SAFE & SECURE.

        If you have any other questions, e-mail me at [email protected]

      17. God bless you for writing this! Tent communities are not given the attention they need. Most people dont even know they exist. It is very sad and America needs to be aware and allow these communities to exist. I saw video a while back of police cutting up the tents in this one community with a razor. As if they didnt already lose enough, now they lost their only shelter. The government doesnt help the homeless, yet wont let them help themselves. I dont get it.

      18. oh yeah very dangerous indeed, probably better get some gubermint agency in there to regulate them so they don’t hurt themselves, we all know we humans cant take care of ourselves and the gubermint can not only take care of us, but they can safeguard us against everything, and they are so good at it too.
        Geesh, how did Americans ever get along many many moons ago without gubers regulations, oversight and laws??

      19. Here’s a link to a newly released, video documentary free to view online or to download as an mp4. “Lifting the Veil” . It basically exposes the two party system of US politics as a well established scam used to delude people into thinking that they actually do live under a democratic system of government. At the same tune the politicians (D or R), despite their rhetoric, always make protecting the interests and wealth of the ultra rich and powerful (i.e. the same people who finance their election campaigns) their number one priority.
        “Lifting the Veil is the long overdue film that powerfully, definitively, and finally exposes the deadly 21st century hypocrisy of U.S. internal and external policies, even as it imbues the viewer with a sense of urgency and an actualized hope to bring about real systemic change while there is yet time for humanity and this planet. See this film!”
        Larry Pinkney
        The Black Commentator

      20. May God bless you and keep you. Your biggest threat is the society around you as society has in the past taken away the rights of the homeless and treated them terrible. To group together has it’s benefits and empowers your group. Communes may be on the rebound as the economy worsens for the 90% who hold less wealth then the top 10%% and the top 1%  who seem to be the greediest of them who have been stealing us blind with no concern for our country or people.

      21. Most people are taught to believe that it’s just a coincedence that jews have been kicked out of every host nation that they invaded and destroyed.

      22. Comments…..Hemp IS the crop of the future as told by past presidents! Embrace it. Grow it and leave the oppressors to fend for themselves.

      23. Jct: No matter how sad, they voted for the guys who let it happen to them. There was one candidate for  president who offered to reprogram the US Treasury computer to provide them with interest-free loans but they didn’t elect him and now it’s time to be morted by their mort-gage death-gambles. They voted for Mr. “Yes we can” and found out “No they couldn’t” without a plan. Har har har. Obamavilles are the result and it’s sad to say they blew their chance when they had it.

      24. On a somewhat related note….
        Many will be using heaters, stoves and lanterns that require the small disposable 1lb propane tanks. These particular tanks, like nearly everything else, are manufactured abroad. Although domestic propane would be available, the tanks would not be. Most of these devices cannot be hooked up directly to larger 20lb tanks due to the greater pressure difference. Such a situation would render many of your propane appliances useless.  But there is a solution…
        Mr. Heater F276172 1-Pound Disposable Propane Tank Refill Adapter

        There is also the present additional benefit of refilling your 1lb ‘disposable’ propane tanks at a fraction of the cost of buying new ones.

      25. The article states they are living in an “environmentally friendly” manner.  Can you imagine the impact on our forests if just a few more percent of the nation started cutting and burning wood for fire.  This may be sustainable for a few hundred people here and there, but when lots of us start living this way we’re gonna have some coooold winters.

      26. Vox, you must be related to Slavo, the part self hating Jew.

      27. @LTR
        Perhaps since being a ‘Jew’ is not a matter of biology or genetics, since they are Caucasian, but a mere matter of elective social and political association, Slavo simply chose to unsubscribe to that ‘half’… un-hatefully 🙂 Sorta like quitting the Elks Club.
        The Thirteenth Tribe
        by Arthur Koestler


        This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in the Dark Ages became converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Genghis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the cradle of Western Jewry. . .

        The Khazars’ sway extended from the Black Sea to the Caspian, from the Caucasus to the Volga, and they were instrumental in stopping the Muslim onslaught against Byzantium, the eastern jaw of the gigantic pincer movement that in the West swept across northern Africa and into Spain.

        In the second part of this book, “The Heritage,” Mr. Koestler speculates about the ultimate faith of the Khazars and their impact on the racial composition and social heritage of modern Jewry. He produces a large body of meticulously detailed research in support of a theory that sounds all the more convincing for the restraint with which it is advanced. Yet should this theory be confirmed, the term “anti-Semitism” would become void of meaning, since, as Mr. Koestler writes, it is based “on a misapprehension shared by both the killers and their victims. The story of the Khazar Empire, as it slowly emerges from the past, begins to look like the most cruel hoax which history has ever perpetrated.”

      28. There is no safty,any body that tells you that is stupid? Has never been homeless ,has never been cold or wet!!! Ther is only 2 things stratgy and luck. It takes both of them to keep a roof over your head. This whole thing is a war on numbers ,and a lot of people are going to loose this war on numbers and be come homeless. ….

      Commenting Policy:

      Some comments on this web site are automatically moderated through our Spam protection systems. Please be patient if your comment isn’t immediately available. We’re not trying to censor you, the system just wants to make sure you’re not a robot posting random spam.

      This website thrives because of its community. While we support lively debates and understand that people get excited, frustrated or angry at times, we ask that the conversation remain civil. Racism, to include any religious affiliation, will not be tolerated on this site, including the disparagement of people in the comments section.