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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A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.