Mulled Questions (Mix with Cider)

by Megan M. on January 22, 2009 · View Comments (Blog) |

Here are some questions and speculations for a Thursday evening.

Has anyone gone around to talk to the homeless in Austin, and published their stories in blog format? Even a limited site or an ebook would be amazing. I’ve looked for this project, certain that someone must have done it before I thought of it, but I’m not finding anything. Pictures, comments, yes—extended interactions and stories, no. How can we help more people without resources communicate with a larger portion of the world? What would they say, if we gave them a stage?

What about the people who aren’t homeless, but still spend time at intersections asking for change? I wonder what stories they’d tell. (Somebody should ask!)

Who are the men who wait outside places like Home Depot for people to come and offer them work for the day? What kind of work are they looking for? Why are they there—and what series of events brought them to that pursuit? What do they do every day? What do they need? What would their perfect job be? What are they best at? What work makes them feel good, and proud?

How can we connect these seekers with work that needs to be done in such a way that all parties benefit? How can we find a solution that serves the community, too?

Why is it that those without the resources to pay for what they need are often so disorganized, or so confused about what they want, that I can’t actually help them? How can I posse up with someone whose primary pastime is helping others to identify the elements of their situation and clarify the next steps that would have the biggest impact on their ability to succeed?

This person should be someone who thinks outside of the box—and someone who often suggests next steps that I am particularly clever with.

How many people could we help then!?

  • Becky Blanton
    Great thought Megan! I don't know Austin, but I know the homeless in many large cities. I will suggest these things:

    Don't go alone when you talk to the homeless. Don't wear jewelry or carry a lot of money or credit cards. Dress down. While most of the homeless are harmless, there are a lot who are mentally ill, criminals, violent, paranoid etc. Too much to go into here, but call me if you want details. I learned a lot the year I was homeless.

    If you want to help, contact a shelter. Talk to a case worker. Tell them what you want to do, that you want to document homelessness, get to know the real picture of what it is like - to spend a week etc. etc. Then, actually get to know a few homeless people over lunch. Spend some time getting to know them (They won't tell you the truth - or it will be some truth, lotta lies. Most work the system and you're part of the system). Then spend two nights and two days on the street "living" the lifestyle. You'll learn A LOT!

    If you skip the "get to know folks" stage and just hit the streets and pretend to be homeless, you'll be fresh meat, so obvious and everyone will target you as a newbie and you'll be at greater risk. At least if you learn a bit BEFORE you hit the street, you won't be AS obvious and you'll know a little bit about how to take care of yourself. If you want specific tips, email me. It will change the way you look at life if you really do it. So, be ready.

    It's change for the good. I count my year on the streets (even tho I was in a van) as the best time of my life. You go girl!
  • Marianne
    You should talk to my friend Michael.
  • Tiara the Merch Girl
    Look up the Big Issue - it's a current affairs magasine sold mainly by homeless people. They get 1/2 the cost of the magazine (so if the mag cost you $5, they get $2.50). The Big Issue here in Australia is EXCELLENT reading, and they do a lot for the homeless (aside from the jobs) - the Homeless World Cup, Christmas specials, the Choir of Hard Knocks, all sorts of things.
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