civic media: week twelve

humanity and dignity graphic


The conversation central to homelessness and housing insecurity continued this week in Civic Media.


As we began to move away from statistics and facts about homelessness, I started to draw connections between these numerical figures and the more personal stories of those individuals experiencing homelessness.


Primarily, as part of a class assignment, we listened to the stories of several individuals experiencing homelessness and summarized their stories in a short power point that we would later share with the class. For this assignment, I listened to Samuel’s story. I found him particularly interesting because of his intelligent, hopeful, and peaceful spirit. The interviewer described the zen garden that Samuel created outside of his tent, comprised of various rocks and leaves.


Furthermore, Samuel described his emotional instability and experience with bipolar depression. In the attempt to stabilize his emotions, Samuel struggles to find his place in society, as well as in the workplace. However, Samuel has three wishes for the future – to find a companion to spend his life with, that his son is able to manage his bipolar depression, and that he could have another child with the capability of fully raising him / her and being fully present in his / her life.


The stories of these individuals were particularly touching to me as they reminded me of the experiences that I have had in Magis (a weekly service program). As a participant in Magis, I had a very meaningful conversation with a man experiencing homelessness at Our Brother’s Place, a men’s homeless shelter in Philadelphia. By hearing his story, I felt as though the barrier that is often placed between “us” and “them” was unraveled. Often times, society places a certain stigma and stereotype around those individuals experiencing homelessness. However, by engaging in conversation with them, their true humanity and personality comes forth.


This year, as a leader in Magis, I have had even more opportunities to engage with individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as experience with non-profit organizations that work to end homelessness. One of these organizations, Project HOME, offered me with the necessary background and facts in order to more fully engage with the issue of homelessness. As part of our visit to Project HOME, we had the opportunity to visit a store run by Project HOME that provides those individuals who have experienced homelessness with job opportunities. After speaking to one of these individuals working at the store, I more fully understood the power of conversation. In great detail, he described his gratitude for the time he spent with a group of college students throughout the week. These students would pack sandwiches and sit with him on the street, talking about anything and everything. These students, he said, reminded him of his worth and humanity.


In the future, I will challenge myself to engage with those individuals experiencing homelessness that I so often pass mindlessly on the street. In recognizing their humanity and dignity, we are one step closer to ending the problem of homelessness.


thanks for reading

– madauer

Continue Reading

civic media: week eleven

healing and hope


This week we began the planning of our documentary on homelessness. This documentary will focus on homelessness but will be centered around a story of healing and hope. As a class, we will work in teams to create this documentary.


When deciding which team to join, I thought that I would work best on the planning team, as my organization and love of planning would allow me to help establish an outline for the project. On Monday, we worked in our groups to begin developing our thesis, characters, resolution, and script for the documentary.


I am very excited to work with my class and develop this story, which will focus on Richard Ramson, or Ram Riches. He is a rapper, artist, and poet from Philadelphia who strives to bring the streets of Philadelphia to life in order to disrupt the preconceived notions that many people hold. These preconceived notions are primarily focused on homelessness and housing insecurity.


As well as developing our documentary, we also spent time diving into the issue of LGBTQ youth homelessness this week. By opening up these difficult discussions, we uncovered many of the main concerns and questions that circulate this topic.


LGBTQ youth homelessness is a difficult topic to grapple with, as it doesn’t offer any “attractive” one liners or clear statistics. For this reason, it is not an issue that is openly talked about across the media or among individuals in society, especially in comparison with other issues of today, such as marriage equality.


Furthermore, there are many barriers that stop authority from achieving an accurate count of LGBTQ youth. These individuals are increasingly difficult to account for, as many of them do not outwardly identify as homeless or LGBTQ. Moreover, much of the LGBTQ youth are not easily reached, as many homeless individuals will avoid those who look like an authoritative figure and homeless youth usually try to remain constantly mobile.


The topics that we have discussed in class thus far, especially those concerning LGBTQ homeless youth, housing insecurity, and the broader issue of homelessness, coincide perfectly with the service site that I had the opportunity to visit this week, Project HOME. Project HOME is a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that works with those individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as those who are beginning their journey to reenter society from homelessness. In terms of social justice, they work to fight the root causes of homelessness and end the cycle of poverty in the community of Philadelphia.


During my time at Project HOME, we discussed the alarming young age of children living on the streets, especially focusing on the large portion of those youth who identify as LGBTQ. Many of these topics related to those ideas that we discussed concerning the Family Acceptance Project and the importance of feeling accepted, loved, and protected in your home.


At the end of our visit with Project HOME, we narrowed down the main causes of homelessness, with the top cause being a lack of affordable housing. This factor is the number one cause, as it draws a direct line between those individuals experiencing homelessness and the absence of housing options in the community.


As I work with my class to develop our documentary on homelessness, I look forward to further learning about the various issues that correspond with this topic. Furthermore, I am excited to learn more about Richard Ramson and his story, as well as help his vision come to life through our documentary. It is through the work of my class in our documentary, as well as the work of nonprofits, such as Project HOME, that elevate the voices of the homeless community and advocate for change.


thanks for reading

– madauer

Continue Reading