Walking in the rain
I met Mary three years ago when she was one of a group of houseless people and their allies who walked to Salem, our State capitol (52 miles away) to demand housing for all. At that time she was houseless. Now she’s housed and her church is offering showers to houseless people. “It’s nice I guess,” she says, “but they didn’t ask houseless people what they wanted. I think the church people want houseless people to come to their church, but they don’t want their smells.”
She visited me today to talk about a group she’s forming, called “Community Dreamers.” Her idea is to help houseless people make their voices heard. “Nothing about us without us,” is their motto. City officials and real estate brokers continue to generate ideas (many of them aimed at keeping houseless people out of sight and out of their neighborhoods) to “solve the homeless problem.” Mary says, “They always call us a problem, and homeless, and they say we’re ‘indigent.’ I don’t even know what that word means. So we need someone who knows those words, who will help us speak for ourselves. And so we thought of asking you.”
I’m honored and glad to listen. Getting people with power to listen is another matter, but we might as well try.
A cold spell is arriving with all the rain. It could snow. The photo isn’t Mary. It’s just one I took as I was out walking in the rain, thinking about power and powerlessness.