Just a few things on my mind today as we are making our way back home. When we were in Portland, we were invited by an old friend of ours to a defense meeting for the Springwater Corridor (check out article here). It was interesting and hectic to sit in on an issue that we are unaware of, but it was more amazing to watch this community give a voice to the houseless and stand by them.
I also say houseless because that is a term we noticed everyone in Portland was saying, and I was immediately drawn to it. We later conversed over some brews about how anyone can be without a house, but they are not homeless. Home comes with a sense of family and community. A home can be a tent or a tarp. These people are not homeless, they are without houses.
Another thing I wanted to mention was that there are several people it seems who want to ask the question "What have you learned about the homeless?" But this question is placing all people without homes into the same category. We are not learning about "the homeless," we are learning about individual people and their stories. Some have had very rough childhoods, some have made poor decisions, some have had everything taken from them in a blink under poor economic circumstances. No two people are the same. So what we are learning most is to stop placing people into boxes of categorization based off of their living situation.
It was both quiet + loud, heavy + weightless. Northern California was everything to me. -Cayci
Sorry it has been a while. It has proven very challenging to keep our computers charged and find wifi in a lot of the places we have been passing through. Despite the lack of posting, we have managed to do and see A LOT in the last two weeks.
In Denver, I was reminded that the genuine kindness of humans is still alive and well in the world. Three strangers befriended us and showed us what the wilderness is all about. Melody and I both got altitude sickness while simultaneously having the time of our lives. No doubt, this hike was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have done to date.
Thank you David, D, and Joey for your kindness and love.
Today and yesterday we had the wonderful privilege of exploring and getting an interview with the Community First, Village, a community designed to help the chronically homeless get back on their feet and regain that sense of belonging and safety with others (To hear the podcast, head to our "Listen" tab)!
Run by Mobile Loaves and Fishes, we learned so much about what this amazing community had to offer and everything it represents as a place built on relationship, dignity, and serving.
We were so impressed with the tiny homes created in this village, providing everyone with everything they might need. Jobs may even be provided within the community if one were to seek it out, and rent is a reasonable price. It personally really tugged at my heartstrings to discover the amount of people and organizations they get lined up to donate and volunteer for this cause, and everyone we ran into there seemed extremely happy and kind spirited. You could tell the staff was very passionate about what they are doing and accomplishing, which is obviously something very important.
I think that simply caring about others and each other is what this community thrives on as their number one goal to make a difference. They don't plan on solving all homelessness and they can't take in everyone who shows up looking for a place to stay, but knowing they are changing the lives they are will hopefully inspire other cities and organizations to look at homelessness with a similar approach. By sharing love and compassion, and by treating the homeless as the regular people they are and not a project. I cannot wait to keep tabs and see in the future what Community First accomplishes.
I miss you already, Peaches.
Yesterday as we were driving we encountered a lost dog. This precious baby, despite being lost and alone, had so much love to give to us. He reminded me exactly of why this trip is so important to me. I want to stop for dogs that need love. But people? Don't we need significantly more? So thank you Peaches for reminding me of how truly important the little things are. I hope someone else stops for you. I am so sorry I couldn't keep you.
This trip is going by so fast, but is so rewarding so far! When we were in Boston it was nearly impossible to find a place to park, let alone sleep. Since we essentially are living out of our van, it really gave me a strong perspective to people who don't have homes and are living out of their vehicles. By the end of the night we had driven to several different lots with fear of being towed or forced to move. We were exhausted, grumpy, and stressed that we ended up just risking it in a hotel parking lot. All the cars there had tickets but fortunately we were undisturbed through the night. That night gave me a sense of empathy for those who have to go through this night after night.
Today I learned that despite seeing the back of Mac's head - it's not always sunny in Philadelphia. Just upon arriving we got a $76 parking fine yesterday. Today, we walked around for hours and couldn't find anyone that seemed approachable. It seems that nearly everyone in Philadelphia wears headphones, at all times. Philadelphia, you are weird to me. Bye.
Well I have only been on the road for 5 days now, but it feels like forever. Van life is fun, but has already proven challenging in many ways. Each time I enter a new city, I am reminded that I don't know anyone here and no one knows me. There are so many people in this world and it really serves as a great reminder to strip away the sense of entitlement that I may be unintentionally carrying. In Boston, I met a man named Roy in the Boston Commons Park and of the many things he said that shook me to the core, the piece that stuck with me the most was (being homeless) "is a mean existence". The kindness he carried in spite of his past is absolutely inspiring. Thanks for being seemingly the only person in the park not on your phone, Roy. You are an inspiration to get up everyday and choose to see the good in the world.