Archive | June, 2014

The Streets Became My Home But I Did Not Give Up

“Food Served with Love.” When I was homeless, I needed to be treated like a human being and offered a life preserver so I would not die on the streets. Keith Arivnwine photo

As a gypsy traveler, I rode buses during the night. Sometimes I’d pass the wee hours of the night on a park bench. I’d wake up early morning. The park bench was my couch, the green grass and trees were my living room. I’d take in the simple pleasures of life.

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I Learned I’m a Warrior and a Survivor

“Anything Helps.” A man’s sign asking for help is seen through a car’s windshield: “Homeless and hungry. Can you help us please?” Darrell Black photo

I’ve learned from being homeless that I’m a warrior, a survivor. When I was going through rough, raw stuff, people said things to me that felt hurtful. It matters to offer encouragement and hope, and to tell a person, “Don’t give up. Life is not over. You can make life better.”

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Finding a Home in the World

“Urban Camping.” Many homeless people are resourceful and skillful. They find ingenious ways to live outdoors by creating a sense of home. Pedro Del Norte photo

Many homeless people are ingenious, intelligent, and resourceful. They establish comfortable ways to live outdoors by finding a quiet place, and create accommodations. They arrange their bedding and stuff to make a niche with a certain amount of comfort and safety. Having a spot gives a person a sense of “home.”

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First Bay Area Transgender Shelter Aims to Open Doors

“When’s the Last Time You Slept on the Street?” A question raised by demonstrators calling for shelter, housing and services for transgender youth who are homeless.

Many transgender people in the Bay Area have been forced to live on the streets due to the harassment, abuse, and neglect they have encountered in shelters. Transgender women are specifically impacted by the lack of safe or affordable housing, while experiencing high rates of discrimination in employment and education.

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The Ruthless Economic Elite at the Top of the Pyramid

The deadly poverty created when billionaires hoard wealth is symbolized by the skulls worn around the neck of these tycoons. Art by Victor Arnautoff

People of lower socioeconomic status have become “trailer trash” or worse. Anyone who is not in the country-club set doesn’t count as a “real” person. Homeless people are perceived by mainstream society as being something less than a person, to be avoided, or to be driven out of sight.

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Mary Rudge’s Luminous Poems of Peace and Justice

Mary Rudge, the late poet laureate of the city of Alameda, holds up peace leaflets next to the statue of another peace activist, St. Francis of Assisi. by sculptor Harriet Moore.

In your streets, around your home,/ bombs burst in air, we put them there./ We have so many bombs to spare,/ and crave your oil, a major share./ Say, are you safe within our care? / We bomb your land because we can,/ kill your neighbors to show we dare,/ destroy your home, pollute your air…

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June Poetry of the Streets

A shopping cart is converted into a bedroom. Photo credit: “One American Reality” by Dong Lin.

until all people are free/ will I be forever thru eternity/ singing for rights of women children and the poor/ until they are treated with dignity/ walking the walk living the talk/ singing boldly and strong/ against all injustices I see/ until all women children and the poor/ are treated with dignity — From “Walking the Walk” by Judy Joy Jones

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Resurrection of the Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. Barber told the activists gathered in the nation’s capital that by demonstrating in solidarity with poor people, they had become a link in the long history of people who fought for justice.

Hate Crime Laws Needed to Protect the Homeless

As homelessness becomes more visible, people living on the streets are targeted for bullying, assaults, harassment and even murders.

Life Is A Precious Gift: Mother Teresa’s House in Washington

We will never know how many huge pots of soup Jacob lifted with the sisters into trucks, to take to the homeless in the park. We will never know how many diseased bodies he fed, held and bathed, and the number of tears he dried in the early morning hours.

Mother Teresa’s Gift of Love in San Francisco

She took home with her the men who had only a few days left to live and were suffering the most, and tenderly cared for them around the clock. I am certain some of the people I was meeting were angels, whose job was to make certain no soul died alone and unloved.

My Back Pages: A Song for Miss Kay

She softly sings the soul anthem “Stand By Me.” It is a song for Miss Kay, a song for all of us. Her life, with its music and joy, followed by a downward slide into homelessness and death, tells us something deeper than words about the human condition.

My Back Pages: Kerry’s Kids, An Undying Dream

Oakland pediatrician Dr. Karen Kruger said, “Kerry’s death was so sudden and seemingly purposeless and shocking that I think there was a need for people that loved her to carry on her memory in a way that she would look down on from her cloud and be happy about.”