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Strategies to Reduce Homelessness,The homeless are an ever-present but largely overlooked segment of society.  They occasionally appear in the news, though not noticeably more — and probably less — than many other groups.  Their presence depresses property values and business traffic, but not enough to incentivize serious action.  The homeless do not constitute a voting bloc, and therefore seldom factor in to politicians' agendas.  The homeless are viewed as a minor inconvenience, a cosmetic stain on society that doesn't really affect us and isn't worth addressing.  Indeed, we even tend to ignore the homeless in person, looking past them as though they weren't there, like browser extensions blocking sidebar-ads.Above everything is the crushing sense of futility that bears down on the issue of homelessness.  A dollar given to a panhandler, fifty dollars given to a soup kitchen, an afternoon spent volunteering — these can feel very satisfying in the moment, but in the larger view, it seems like throwing a deck chair off the sinking Titanic.  It doesn't seem that our efforts do much to fix the problem at its heart, and so we become discouraged into brushing the whole thing under the rug.  And the ideas — few and far between — that have been proposed to truly eradicate homelessness often entail costs that we have evidently been unwilling to pay.  Whatever platitudes we might espouse to ourselves, we do put a price on human lives, and if that price is too high, we won't pay it.  But perhaps we can circumvent or hack this shortcoming of human nature.  The following is an exploration of strategies to reduce homelessness.Gauging the scope of the problemIn the United States, more than 550,000 people are homeless on a given night.  Worldwide, this figure is estimated to exceed 150 million.  These are staggering numbers, far dwarfing many other issues which garner more attention.  It is beyond my level of knowledge and understanding, and therefore beyond the scope of this essay, to focus on homelessness on a global level.  Those looking to make a positive impact on global homelessness should research and seek out effective charities and aid organizations.  Bound by the current confines of my limited knowledge, this essay will principally concern the US, though parts may be generalizable to the developed world more broadly.Estimates of the prevalence of mental illness among the homeless range from 13-26%.  The umbrella of what is considered a mental illness or disorder has expanded in recent years, and many authorities now view drug and alcohol addiction under this rubric.  If those are included, the prevalence jumps above 50%.  Substance abuse, however we classify it, is another major factor among the homeless, with as many as 35% having been impacted by it.  The flip side of these numbers is equally important: about half of all homeless people do not have serious mental health or addiction problems.  In the US, over 9% of the homeless are veterans of the armed forces.  Quantifying these factors is essential for developing strategies proportionate to the realities of the issue.Preventing Homelessness in the First PlaceHousingIn the US, the cost of rent has increased over time, but has not kept pace with the stagnating average income and diminishing spending power.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development has recommended families not spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs, in order to remain financially solvent.  38% of renters in the US are now spending more than this on their rent, with 17% spending more than 50% of their monthly income on rent alone (see previous link). Wider application of rent controls can be a game-changer in housing affordability.  In areas with high property taxes, property tax cuts may be useful for offsetting the lost revenue of landlords, and as a political tool for selling these measures.Reform zoning laws. Low-cost housing in many areas is impeded by NIMBYism ("Not In My BackYard") from residents putting pressure on local and state politicians to make it difficult for these complexes to be built. Low-cost housing would be an invaluable resource for many homeless people, or for those at risk of homelessness, and relaxing these zoning ordinances would help, specifically in urban and metro areas.Encourage the construction of micro-apartment complexes in crowded cities with tax incentives. Many homeless people live in cities, and this would be a good way to squeeze in low-cost housing in places where there is not a ton of space. And given the rise of hipsters and the minimalism movement, plus young people short on funds but eager to move out on their own, you'd get more than just homeless and poor people moving in.EmploymentThe converse of the problem of housing costs is income.  Wages have stagnated relative to inflation and the cost of living. People need more money.  One option is to raise the minimum wage, and index it to keep pace with inflation.  Some conservative objections are not wholly without merit (it depends on the amount), but the current minimum wage is preposterously low, and raising it would be one of the easiest net-positive ways to get money into people's hands, though imperfect. The best way to get money into people's hands is literally get money into their hands. More on this later.Another useful tool is public works projects, along with some training programs for those without any skills. This can kill two birds with one stone by offering work to the unemployed or underemployed while also repairing the nation's now infamously crumbling infrastructure.A leading cause of homelessness among women is domestic abuse.  Many stay in abusive relationships out of economic insecurity, and many who escape have a difficult time getting on their feet financially, often without support structures to lean on, and their situation can spiral down from there.  We should ensure that public jobs programs also create jobs other than construction or manual labor.  Some who need and cannot find work are not physically suited for demanding manual labor, and they too must be able to benefit from such programs in capacities where they can contribute, and there is no shortage of work of all kinds to be done.Mental HealthUniversal health care. Healthcare has become an enormous expense, and a common cause of economic hardship. The financial strain of large medical bills has been shown to increase the likelihood of declaring bankruptcy for years after. Any policies that increase healthcare access and lower or eliminate cost would be a huge burden lifted from the shoulders of most households. Universal healthcare would also help people struggling with mental health issues get the care they need.Schools should provide free mental heath screenings for all students during every year of grade school.  Any mental healthcare that may be needed should also be free.  This will help address children and young people who might otherwise go undiagnosed and untreated, or who might not have sufficient access to healthcare at home.  Identifying and treating conditions earlier can help manage them, so their impact on one's life and ability to function within society do not snowball out of control over time.Make mental health evaluations a standard part of getting a physical.  Since many are required to get physicals at various points in their lives (certain jobs, schools, programs, competitions, events, etc.), this will help ensure that fewer people with mental health problems go undiagnosed.We need more (and better) psychiatric facilities. Since the 1950's, there has been a 95% decline in psychiatric institutions in the US.  It is not sufficient merely to bring these back, however.  We need to reinvest, reimagine, and overhaul the standards by which they operate: the quality of care, the freedom, liberty, and dignity of the patients, the living conditions, treatments, and so forth.  The grungy, dungeon-like horror story insane asylums of yesteryear must be left in the past, where they belong.  We need facilities with positive, clean, open atmospheres, places that feel more like hotels than they do hospitals, with highly qualified staffs subject to strict oversight.  People should not be held against their will unless they are demonstrably a danger to the public, and even in such cases, the goal must be to rehabilitate them, not to imprison them indefinitely. These facilities are needed to help people with severe mental health issues who have nowhere else to go, but must never again be allowed to become de facto prisons for those guilty of the crime of being an undesirable.AddictionThe time to decriminalize drugs — all drugs — is long overdue.  Drug addiction is a debilitating enough affliction on one's life.  Having a criminal record, not to mention the trauma of prison life, in addition, only worsens an individual's prospects for turning their lives around upon release.  End the failed and immoral War on Drugs. People need rehab, counseling, and support structures, not prison cells.The rehab industry is sorely in need of oversight and regulation.  We need to set concrete standards, hold ineffective facilities accountable, and shut down or prosecute fraudulent ones.  Price caps should also be imposed on how much patients can be charged by day or week.VeteransUse the military more judiciously and sparingly.  The less we place our soldiers into potentially psychologically destabilizing situations, the less psychologically destabilized veterans at risk for homelessness we will have. Our foreign policy has implications here at home, too.Expand the Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) ability to provide veterans with mental health problems or limited resources the support necessary to land on their feet once they return from service, and similarly expand the VA's capacity to help veterans who fall on hard times later on.  The military lives by the motto "no man left behind" on the battlefield.  But all of life is a battlefield, and it's time we extended this sentiment beyond one's active service.  Every veteran begging for spare change on a street corner is a soldier we have left behind.  Indeed, every homeless person is someone we as a society have left behind, and it's time we started taking that personally.Reverse boot camp. Upon ending their military service, a reverse boot camp would reacclimate soldiers to civilian life, teach some practical skills, catch them up to speed on changes in society, make them aware of available social and health programs, and help them land on their feet.Universal Basic IncomeUniversal basic income is one of the most impactful policies to prevent people from becoming homeless to begin with. Poverty is a social disease. The cure is money. By establishing an economic floor that no one can fall below, we can make sure that worse comes to worst, people will be able to cover the bare necessities. UBI would also be transformative for the recently homeless, and the many homeless people who are without a home and yet not living on the streets. Those homeless who have been living on the streets for years, or who have serious mental health or addiction issues, may not be able to immediately benefit from a UBI, as they may not have the means to collect it, or the wherewithal to manage it, and other social services would be needed to first get them to a place where they could then take advantage of UBI. Thanks to the efforts of advocates like Scott Santens and Andrew Yang, the Overton window has been massively shifted over the past couple years with regard to universal basic income. What seemed politically impossible just a few years ago is now entering the realm of serious consideration. It's time to secure the bag.The above strategies are best understood as a suite of avenues to be pursued in tandem.  Any one of them has the potential to enact positive change on its own, but it is in synergy that they can be most effective, as many individual strategies reinforce others.  It is here, in closing, that I want to address the role of charity in reducing homelessness.  Individuals have enormous power which, if properly wielded, can be a tremendous force for good.  Much of my content is devoted to empowering the individual to do just that.  These "strategies" essays, however, primarily focus on the macro-level policy-based approaches.  There are limits to what individuals can realistically be expected to accomplish without any governmental, systemic, or institutional support.  Even so, there are many problems we face that could nevertheless be solved solely with a groundswell of civic-minded, grassroots effort.  Homelessness is assuredly not one such; there are too many factors and variables, and the costs are too great.  Grassroots activism can help raise awareness and sway public opinion, which is crucial, and many charities do fine work, but in industrialized nations, there has to be a governmental approach to bring everything together.The problem is, most charities aimed at homelessness in the developed world are either relief agencies that treat the symptoms but aren't working to reduce homelessness, or think-tanks that work to produce policy proposals but take no action themselves, not unlike this essay.  And in researching this subject, I have read many such reports and proposals and "action plans," and to a disconcertingly large degree, they are underwhelming, phoned-in fluff pieces.  The obvious lack of time and effort spent seriously thinking about solving homelessness only belies the morass of apathy we are collectively stuck in on this issue.  In short, we need more charities that are trying to reduce homelessness itself.  In the developing world, however, it's a different story.  The cost to lift a poor person out of poverty in much of the developing world is orders of magnitude less than it is here, and there are many more such charities working to do this.  I would recommend that individuals looking to support charities to end homelessness find effective organizations serving the developing world, where each dollar goes a much farther way toward helping people. Two good resources, also linked earlier in this essay, are GiveWell.org and TheLifeYouCanSave.org.The words I have written here are all well and good, but without the will to seriously address homelessness, they remain no more than peculiar patterns of pixels.  Everything that does not violate the laws of nature is possible, given sufficient knowledge, as physicist David Deutsch has observed.  Homelessness is solvable.  It would require no miracles.  Only that we, as a society, give a shit.  Giving a shit is not a violation of the laws of physics, and so given sufficient knowledge, we will come to give a shit.  Perhaps the catalyst for solving homelessness — and myriad other problems — therefore lies in discovering what knowledge will affect this change of heart, and disseminating it as widely as possible.
Strategies to Reduce Police MisconductWhatever one's politics, it is in the public interest for police misconduct — be it police brutality, needless killings, abuse of power, or just bad policy — to be reduced as much as possible. In the age of smart phones, the margin for error is low, and the tolerance for injustice, overreach, or even the appearance thereof is virtually nonexistent. We will never get this number down to zero. But if we can reduce the number of incidents (or seeming incidents), the causes of justice, public trust, public safety, and civil order will be improved. The following are strategies to reduce police misconduct.Underlying causesThe interactions that police officers have with civilians are the last link of longer causal chains. Addressing some of the root causes can prevent certain situations and environments in which misconduct might occur.End the War on Drugs. The decriminalization of drugs will eliminate the pretext for a large chunk of police interactions. This is the big one. Everything else I write about in this essay put together probably wouldn't advance the ball as far this one would on its own.Reduce poverty. Poor people have more police interactions, on average, compared to people who are middle class or above. Low-income areas also have higher crime rates. A disproportionate number of high-profile cases of misconduct involve a civilian who is sub-middle class. Domestic policy that reduces poverty may help reduce the crime rate, and lower the number of police interactions.Reduce the overall number of firearms in circulation. One of the reasons American cops are more likely to resort to lethal force compared to those of other developed nations, is because the US is unique in having about 300 million guns floating around. It is therefore rational for officers to assume that any given person they interact with might be armed. If, through policies like voluntary year-round buyback programs, universal background checks, and increased firearm taxation, the overall number of guns in society can be reduced over time, we can gradually establish an environment that no longer justifies this level of tension.ScreeningScreening and incentive policies can help make sure we are populating police departments with the best possible people.Any law enforcement applicant for a field work position must be subjected to strict psychological testing. Some police departments do require some form of psychological testing, though it varies. It should be a universal requirement, and should be retroactively applied to current officers. If you have problems with anger, impulse control, megalomania, sadism, sociopathy, or are otherwise unstable or unwell, you should not be a police officer.There should be a physical size requirement for police field work. As with psychological testing, this already exists in some places, but should be a universal requirement. If you're 5'6, trying to subdue a person who's 6'4 and doesn't want to be subdued, no amount of training or strength conditioning is going to bridge the performance gap between yourself and an equally trained officer who is 6'1. When officers prove unable to subdue suspects through non-lethal means, that's when suspects can end up getting shot. We need officers who can manhandle people if need be, because manhandling them is better than shooting them.Cops should be paid more. The average police officer makes a little over $50,000 a year, plus benefits. They're hardly poor, but when we consider how important a job it is, how difficult it can be, and how high the stakes are — literally life and death — $50,000 begins to sound a little low. If we want to recruit the most talented people for police work, then police work needs to be better paid. The better paid it is, the more people will seek it out for the money, rather than for the perks (the gun, badge, authority, etc.). It is in the public interest to attract people seeking money rather than a power trip. Increased pay would also spur higher numbers of applicants, creating more competition for spots, forcing departments to be more discerning in their hires, which will ultimately result in better quality.TrainingPolice officers need longer training. Depending on the department, officers generally receive somewhere between two and six months of training. Much has been made of the comparisons to the required education for all sorts of other jobs in which one does not have the authority to end lives. Any job that requires a four year degree, or even just a two year degree, constitutes somewhere between 4-24x more education than police officers go through. This is insane. Officers need to be given one year of training at minimum, and should be required to complete a two-year degree in criminal justice (or something related) prior to that.Deescalation training. As a required part of all police training programs, an emphasis should be placed on deescalation. While there is sometimes no choice but to resort to force, there are many documented cases where other options were plainly available in hindsight, and where better trained officers might have cooled things off by making better decisions. In many cases gone awry, police behavior often involves rushing/pursuing the suspect, and responding with lethal force if met with any resistance. In some of these cases, the suspect might have been surrounded from a distance and issued orders, making clear to them that they are surrounded, that they have nowhere to run, and that they will be shot if they resist. Some of these suspects, given a moment to process, will surrender peacefully. To put it in medieval terms, sometimes a siege can be more effective than storming the walls.Train cops in grappling martial arts. Related to the physical size requirement, there are many situations where an officer is attempting to subdue a suspect, sometimes a larger and stronger one, sometimes one under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who does not want to be subdued. If the officer is unable to subdue them, the risk that the suspect could overpower them and shoot them with their own firearm becomes a primary danger. Training officers in things like wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu could make a big difference in their ability to successfully subdue suspects without situations getting out of control and leading to lethal force.Policy ChangesEnd no-knock raids. No-knock raids are when the police (often SWAT teams) kick in the door of the suspect with no warning, and proceed to clear the building and conduct a raid and/or arrest. These are often performed in the middle of the night. Let's game out a scenario. A legal gun owner has a firearm in his bedside drawer. The door is kicked in at 2 AM and a group of men come rushing in with guns. Disoriented, half-asleep, and in fear that their home is under attack, the resident reaches for a gun. Perhaps they get hold of it. Perhaps they are able to get off some shots. The police officers, seeing the suspect reach for, grab, or fire a gun, open fire themselves, and kill the suspect. In so doing, bystanders such as pets, other household occupants, or even neighbors (if bullets go through walls or windows) may be shot or killed. The tragedy of it all is that in these scenarios, both parties — the police and the resident — are behaving rationally, and yet the outcome is often needless death. This is the hallmark of a bad policy. These raids should not be no-knock, and should not be conducted in the middle of the night (where even if the cops do knock/announce themselves once, it may not be heard by a sleeping resident). To compound everything, these raids are sometimes conducted on the wrong homes, or conducted on faulty information.Demilitarize the police. In the past 20 years, surplus or decommissioned military equipment has been made available to local police forces around the nation, at little to no cost, provided that they find a use for them, which they unsurprisingly manage to do. While the use of these military weapons and equipment does occasionally cause increased property damage, injury, or death, the larger issue is one of optics and public trust. Bringing tanks, humvees, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine guns to bear against civilian US citizens, in American cities and towns, is not only creepy, authoritarian, and completely overkill, but it's bad for the public image of law enforcement, and severely undermines public trust. The police should be seen as serving their community, not as an occupying military force lording over them.End qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a legal principle in the US that protects government officials such as law enforcement officers from being sued civilly unless the plaintiff can prove that their constitutional rights were violated. It is reasonable that, given the difficulty of the job, and the impossible, split-second decisions officers sometimes have to make, that a degree of leniency should be granted to law enforcement for doing things that a civilian would get into trouble for. But immunity is a bridge too far. If a doctor causes harm by making a mistake, they are subject to civil suits, with no stipulation that it only applies to constitutional violations. The police should be no different.A body cam for every cop. In the past seven years, many police departments around the country have begun to adopt body cameras which record both video and audio when officers are in the field. Much has been brought to light because of this. The problem is that not every department uses them, and sometimes the cameras are shut off by officers. By requiring all cops nationwide to have these cameras, and establishing that as the new norm, any officers whose cameras shut off should be investigated for non-compliance, and penalized if found guilty.The police should not be in charge of policing themselves. Every state should establish a body of unelected investigators and prosecutors separate from and unconnected with any police department, police union, or local/city government, who can carry out investigations, indictments, and prosecutions of law enforcement officers, free from much of the internal pressures, politics, and conflicts of interest that often hamstring internal affairs and district attorneys from bringing bad cops to justice.Mandate comprehensive record-keeping. We are operating in a law enforcement data-desert. It turns out, there isn't much in the way of record-keeping requirements, and so each police department or precinct does it their own way, some more diligently than others, with few centralized resources where nation-wide data is aggregated. Most of what we know about the data of police shootings, for example, was manually compiled by journalists through painstaking and time-consuming research. All law enforcement should be required to keep comprehensive records, and to report them to a national database. Non-compliant departments should be subject to penalties. Good policy must be informed by data, and we need much more of it.It's not all the cops' faultIt would be remiss not to acknowledge that an effective, civil, if not perfectly harmonious, relationship between a city or town and its police, is a two-way street. There are some truly bone-headed decisions that people often make, which create situations that are more volatile than they need to be. Here are some basic precepts that will not only lead to better police-civilian relations generally, but may just save your life:Don't resist arrest. It doesn't matter if you think you are being wrongly or unfairly arrested. If you resist, you significantly increase your likelihood of being killed. It's just not worth it. When everything is cleared up, lodge a complaint, get in touch with local news, make a viral post online about it, sue the police department, advocate for reform, run for office on that platform, whatever you want — but while the arrest is underway, that's not the time to dispute it. It doesn't matter that you think it's wrong that the cops have this power: they have it, and you may end up dead for resisting. In life, you have to pick your battles.Don't be drunk or high in public. First of all, this is already a minor crime in most places. Secondly, it's totally classless. And thirdly, a disproportionate number of police interactions that result in serious injury or death involve a suspect who was under the influence. Being intoxicated is a recipe for bad decisions, which is why these substances are best consumed in the comfort of one's own home, or in some other safe, private space.Don't reach for anything or make sudden movements. Keep your hands where the officer can see them, and move like you're suspended in congealing amber. Remember, there are 300 million guns in this country. It is totally rational for a cop to assume you're armed.The above strategies are best understood as a suite of measures to be pursued simultaneously.  Any one of them has the potential to bear fruit on its own, but it is in synergy that they can be most effective, as many individual strategies reinforce others. In closing, it is important to address the most hotly contested element of this issue, which is systemic racism: the idea that law enforcement is systemically biased and prejudiced against black people. This is a claim I believed for many years, but over the past few have been forced to abandon. The evidence just doesn't add up. When you correct for poverty and criminality, the various sub-claims made by the systemic racism camp, and the superficial disparities they point to, are either mostly collapsed, or entirely collapsed. What we see in the press, or on social media, is the tiniest, handpicked sliver of what goes on, and it can give a distorted picture. This does not mean that racism no longer exists, and as noted earlier, we need more data. But what it does suggest, based on the data currently available, is that there is no problem with policing that couldn't be better addressed with reforms that apply across-the-board as opposed to race-specific policies.Indeed, most of the realistic adult proposals that have been suggested by reform activists are essentially race-neutral. But there is this pressure one feels to lace everything in rhetoric about the scourge of racism and white supremacy. Of course those things are bad. All decent people already believe that, and saying it over and over won't convince anyone new. It doesn't add anything of value to the conversation to talk this way. It obscures, it distracts, and it divides. And if anyone tries to bully you about it, stand up to them. Let us keep our eye on the prize: finding, advocating, and implementing strategies to make the police work better for society.

Deviants

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Welcome

:peace: About us :peace:

This is a Group for all Deviants, which have the strong wish
to keep the Global Peace.

Upload your Artworks, to show everybody how beautiful life on
Earth could be, and give examples why we should protect all
that for today and the future.

Furthermore it also be a place, to come together and talk about
what happens in the world!

:peace: Who can join? :peace:

Everyone is welcome, whether you are a beginner
or a professional.

Simply click the " Join us " button and be part of our group :hug:

:peace: What can I submit? :peace:

There are no restrictions for what you can submit,
everyone should have the chance to be part of the Group
and show their Artworks.

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:peace: Notes :peace:

Please let us know, if there is no Categorie for your artwork!

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Recent Journal Entries

After an improvement suggestion from one of our members, we changed
the look of the startpage, to give a Spot where you can ask questions or
make descussions about Global Peace and the things which happens in
the World.

For the Moment it will be a Test to use the journal as a forum, but if there
a lot of members which have the wish to make descissions, we plan to
outsource that part and start an external linked Forum, to give a better
overview and additional functions.

Simply add you questions or thoughts in the comments!

You can also submit our own thread in the journal and start a descussion
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:iconxxxpattyxxx:
xxxpattyxxx Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2015
Hey thanks for accepting me 
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:iconpeteseeger:
PeteSeeger Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Student Writer
Let he who seeks peace prepare himself for war.
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:iconthemixbox:
Themixbox Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012
Thanks 4 accepting me in the group! :D
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:iconchamathe:
chamathe Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem, you are very welcome :glomp:
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:iconthemixbox:
Themixbox Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012
:D
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:iconjbrenthill:
jbrenthill Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for including me!
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:iconask-the-brawlers:
ASK-THE-BRAWLERS Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012
no prob thanks for being apart of us
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:iconchamathe:
chamathe Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
np, you're welcome :hug:
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:icondreamer-of-magic:
Dreamer-of-Magic Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2012   General Artist
whoops! I accidentally submitted something to the wrong folder ^^; It's called The Fire Within Us All and it's in photography when it should be in trad. art. im sorry! forgive me...
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:iconask-the-brawlers:
ASK-THE-BRAWLERS Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012
its okay if this problum is still in persute contact me and ill tell the boss about it
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