I took a leap back into the homeless-journalism vortex recently in my Pavement transmedia series for the LA Weekly. I went out with a camera in the pounding rain and froze my ass off for a few days with some people sleeping on the street in Sun Valley, California.
The same thing happens that always happens. I got a lot of emails and FB messages from bleeding hearts, Christian do-gooders, enraged activists, youngsters who felt a call to action and people who were deeply saddened by what they saw: suffering. The recent Huffington Post article about me and my Pavement series unleashed a downpour of the same.
Last week with, I connected with a group of homeless, 20-something wanderers in Venice Beach, California on another story. It was as if I was transported back to 1967. All the same players with the same sensibilities were there. The redundancy was stunning.
I've been publishing homeless stories for a decade now. It's a numbers game. The statistics fluctuate. There are a lot of people counting homeless people these days. Presumably they'd be out of business and possibly counting themselves if there were no street sleepers left to count.
The sinister interpretation is that there are a lot of people consciously invested in maintaining a homeless population on the streets of America for personal gain, but I don't subscribe to that sort of logic. I'm holding to the notion that we'd all love to see the unnecessary suffering end.
The problem(s) are so deeply entrenched that it never seems to budge. Politicians mug for the camera, advocates rant (myself included), and people sleep on the sidewalk caught in an endless loop of self-victimization. Some Harvard brainiacs called Common Ground have deciphered the numeric code and figured out how to get people inside using assessment as their main tool. Others like School on Wheels are educating the future.
My heart tells me that the answer is to include everyone by redirecting public funds to create financial infrastructures in low-income areas to address the issue of transgenerational poverty. My head tells me that that will happen when 500,000 enraged citizens show up on the White Hose lawn screaming bloody murder.
But mass marching begins with baby steps. Baby steps start with consciousness expansion. I'm fixin' to take it from the Pavement to the people in an incremental movement, story by story. Post by post. One word at a time.