Notebook - Writing 2010 (Homelessness and Drug addiction)
Public Service Announcement (PSA) about Utah’s Homeless population
The Homeless population in Utah has become increasingly high within the last 5 years, specifically within the Salt Lake City limits. Many of these homeless are women and children, many suffer from emotional abuse, physical abuse and other forms of mental illness.
The homeless population also struggles with alcohol abuse, and many forms of drug addiction. Majority of these addicts become homeless due to their addictions. Others suffer due to lack of counseling and treatment centers. Some, are constantly in and out of the justice system and released back into society without sufficient treatment can end up in and out or jail and prison, condemned to a constant state of homelessness. This also creates a major problem with violence surrounding the homeless shelter, which puts a lot of innocent homeless in harms way.
This public service announcement is to help create a sense of awareness among those of us in Salt Lake City in hopes that as we educate our city about the growing and tragic homeless population, that we as a community can begin working together to absolve the issues within our community that keep our homeless population growing.
*Homeless people are 3-6 times more likely to experience illness than those who are not homeless – www.fouthstreetclinic.org
*Many are saying that within the past 10 years the SLC Homeless problem has decreased, however, some say this statistic is based on drastically skewed statistics. – www.cityweekly.net
*In a new pole, posted in August of 2015 states that Utah still has a serious problem with homelessness. – www.sltrib.com
NoteBook 11 - Public Service Announcement on Disabled Homeless Women
Many of us are unaware of the thousands of disabled women who are currently living on the streets. Many of these women not only struggle with homelessness, but also the inability to protect themselves from predators. These predators include; Other Homeless people who want her blanket, her shoes, sleeping bags, pillows etc. Additionally, they are at higher risk of both physical and sexual abuse. They struggle more than the average homeless person because they are not only suffering from the typical struggles of being homeless, but also fall victims to that of the disabled and abused. They are the most helpless of the homeless population.
A woman by the name of Kathy is among one of the many women who live in this sort of fear everyday. Kathy is a resident of Salt Lake City and is among the homeless population. She lives, breathes, goes hungry, and fights for her life in a wheel-chair. She was in a terrible car accident in her early 20’s, before and after which she struggled with heroin addiction. Her parents have since died and she was never married, nor did she have children. Kathy has no one, but herself to rely on. Often times people tend to imagine that to be a drug addict and to be homeless one has chosen this lifestyle at some point in their lives. Which, indeed is true to a degree, however in the case of Kathy and many others there is a lot more to it.
Because Kathy was a struggling heroin addict before she lost her legs, that didn’t mean she was no longer an addict. She continued struggling with her addiction and it even worsened after the accident. She came from a broken home, her parents were both drug addicts and she didn’t really have anyone to rely on before her parents passed. Soon after the accident her boyfriend, Robert left her and she became homeless. Her addiction worsened at this point, she had no one and nothing to live for. Like many homeless women, she began trading sex for drugs and money. During our interview there was a moment she went silent, kind of bowed her head down slowly, and then looked up at me with her eyes keeping her head down and said, “There are times I look back on my life, how it was before the accident, ya know? And I’ve tried figuring out where everything went wrong. To tell ya the truth, I don’t know. It’s kinda always been that way. I don’t remember being happy.” She took a moment of pause and silence as if she had finally just come to this realization.
I wanted to expand on this portion of my report, because her story to me was more worth telling than anything else I had to say in that entire paper. I feel that way because, no one knows this side of the issue on Homelessness, the darkerside. It’s no just about sleeping on the streets and starving, or holding up a sign asking for money, whether it be fore food, or booze or drugs. I use to be the kind of person who, when I saw someone holding up a sign asking for money, I would give it to them, but I always thought- “They’re just going to buy drugs with booze with it” and ya know what? Who the hell am I to judge someone in that persons position?! I get to go home to nice, clean two-bedroom apt in Avenues, with heat and food in the cupboards and a nice comfortable bed and I get to enjoy having a beer or a glass of wine when I feel like it.
So, after taking on this project this semester my outlook on the homeless has changed, drastically. I don’t give a damn what they’re going to do with the few dollars I give them, because in this life nothing is permanent and who knows, one day I might be that lady, just like Kathy, in my wheelchair holding up a sign, with no legs and tattered clothing, wearing shorts that don’t even fit me, because I don’t have any legs for them to properly fit around. One day, I might end up like Kathy, with no teeth left in my mouth, and no one in the world but myself. So, I don’t care what they do with the few dollars I hand them as long as it makes them happy, because some of them, like Kathy can’t even remember what it’s like to be happy.
It is so important that people understand the reality of whats going on within out homeless communities, whats really going on and why it is so important that these people not only have food and shelter and warmth, but most importantly that these people have safety and their basic needs met regardless of what their struggles are. We all struggle with something or another, and we are not being condemned to sleep on below freezing temperatures without a clue in the world as to whether or not we will see another sunrise, and more to the point, if we even want to.
I admire the homeless after taking on this assignment, they are the strongest people I know. They have the will to survive even though they fall asleep on the streets, even though all they have to look forward to the next day is another struggle, another day full of watching people walking into warm restaurants to have dinner with their families, and they have to overhear people complain about the service after walking out with full bellies. They look forward to another day of eating out of garbage cans, and not having sufficient clothing for winter weather, they look forward to another day of being treated like a lesser person by the rest of society, and they still have the will to live, to wake up and start another day. I admire the homeless, because I couldn’t imagine walking even one day in their shoes, going to sleep that night and wanting to wake up another day.
Final Reflection on NoteBook assignment
The activity the really hit home the most was the last one I did. It honestly made my cry. Rewriting my report in a different light. Being able to dissect it and look at something specific from my paper and then re-write it completely differently but focused around one issue in my paper. I chose the issue of the woman in the wheelchair because it really was the most moving story I had heard from anyone I interviewed.
I also really liked writing the memoir. I felt it helped me develop shape to my social justice issue and the be able to expand on it as the semester progressed. I learned quite a bit not only about my social justice issue, but about myself and the way I view people and what they are experiencing. I learned to take less things for granted in this world. It’s really easy to lose everything you have, even the smallest of things, if you’re not careful. I learned this from Marare, the homeless woman I interviewed who left her family and her kids to live on the streets so that she could support her addiction, after so long she got lost in it and couldn’t figure out how she got there, or how she was ever going to get out of it.
I honestly really liked putting together the image collection that I did as well. This really helped me delve into the issue and marinate on its contents and to figure out what the issue really meant to me. This helped me to identify with my Social Justice issue a lot more, and to be able to really find a solid direction in regards to where I was going to take it. I was able to really figure a lot of things out, being a visual person utilizing these images really helped me to be able to have a deeper understanding of what my issue really meant.
I honestly feel like I will definitely try the assignment of putting an image collection together to help build future assignments off of that. I also really enjoyed, the PSA about Utahs Homeless population, especially with the kids. It really hit home and I feel like it was definitely informative.
I feel like one of my favorite tools or strategies that I can use now is to be able to have the courage to go out and do something about the issues that are going on in our city, even if its just collecting research and leaning more about what people are experiencing out there. Especially as a feminist woman speaking to other women who are living on the streets with their kids, just to be able to have a safer place to sleep than living with the father, or boyfriend who was abusive. Some of these women are so brave in their convictions. They struggle everyday with their kids, hungry and homeless as they wait for a bed to open up for them, but they finally got the courage to leave someone who was hurting them and their children. The streets of salt lake is filled with survivors, and its very noble of some of them to be able to say enough is enough and to try to start over again from scratch.
FINAL REFLECTION PAPER - REFLECTION 2
13 Dec 2015
Secondary Reflection on the Magazine Project
I selected this issue because it was something I have always wanted to research and have always been passionate about. So when the opportunity became available this semester I felt like this was the best time to go for it. I’m glad I did, it really changed the shape of my life. It’s funny, because at first I felt like it was just another assignment. Throughout the 4 months of working on it, and researching, so many different reasons for homelessness and all of the statistics. I also, as a woman felt an obligation to have a voice for women who as in all reality invincible. The women who are victims of domestic violence, with children.
What I didn’t mention in the magazine project was that I grew up in an abusive household. My mother was forced to leave my father because we were all being abused in many ways that there came a point where my mother decided to speak with the LDS Church in Virginia, where we lived and they had a Dairy farmer drive us to Utah. My littler sister, littler brother, my mom and myself all rode in a cattle truck across country to escape domestic abuse. We lived in my grandmothers living room in Springville, UT for nearly a year and we were nearly homeless. So this issue hit very close to home. Not to mention that later in life my littler sister became addicted to drugs at 15 and she and myself were both homeless at one point. This project definitely was personal for me and I wanted to do it justice. Not only for my benefit, but the benefit of others. So that is how I went about my social justice issue.
My research process was very interesting. I mean, initially I was just looking into homelessness, and along the way I learned so much about statistics and how many women suffer. Also how many LGBT youth suffer. I was actually one of the 40% of the homeless LGBT youths that were kicked out on the street because I was gay. Funny thing was, I was so enthralled with others, even before this project that I didn’t even realize that I, myself was actually one of those LGBT youth who was homeless. I mean, I have never slept on the street, but I went several years living with random friends, even people I had just met. Living in their closets, and even one guys house that was so badly destitute that there were cockroaches and windows were shattered and there were nights I froze, and even went hungry. I recall a time that I went a couple of weeks without food and a box finally came from Virginia, my dad had sent it. It had a bunch of boxed goods, and instant potatoes, and tang. I remember it being the best food I had ever tasted.
This project, really brought to light not only the suffering of others in our society, but it reminded me of what I have actually experienced. It was kind of empowering.
I chose the genres that I chose because I wanted to give a voice o those who don’t have one. The invincible people, the homeless. I felt like with the memoir I could discuss my connection to the issue, by discussing my sisters struggles and how always trying to stand by her side, since we don’t really have any family and always trying to show her the way to a better, happier, more productive life would help shape the rest of the magazine and the semester. Social Justice issues are all important. I just wanted to be able to do justice to the issue I chose the best I could. As far as the Position Argument, I wanted to be able to expand on the issue, by creating a position argument. I was explaining with statistics and photos and experiences of other people that I have researched and being able to tell their stories as well of that of my own, indirectly.
I believe I was able to achieve Kairos, I was able to really find out where I fit within my social justice issue and really make it my own. I was able to obtain Pathos, by being able to obtain an emotional evocation and was able to bring that to life within my assignments, and within the final project, the Magazine. I was also able to obtain, Ethos, because I feel like I was able to evoke even myself into understanding the ethical standpoint from which I was aiming with my projects and with the magazine project. I feel like being able to attain Logos, by creative order that I definitely was able to obtain because I literally put my heart and soul into this project. Creative order came along the way and unfolded as the project unfolded.
The process of revision and design really was rough. With revision especially on the Position argument because I feel like I chose a hard topic. As far as relating it to philosophy and John Stuart Mills philosophy on Utilitarianism. When I revised it I thought about changing it completely, but I really liked where I was going with it. I took all of the advice from my professor, one piece of feedback at a time and carefully rewrote it. I looked up so many different statistics and really reshaped it to fit her advice and I really appreciated it. She knew exactly what she was talking about when she critiqued my paper. It was perfect, it really was great watching it reshape its self into something whole and amazing as I made the adjustments.
NOTEBOOK - 4
(3a. Tell the story of your research. What turns did it take? What were your missed opportunities and what were your unexpected scores?)
During my research, I have learned a lot about the subjects I am writing about. Some of the turns it has taken haven't all been good. I have been trying to get into touch with someone at the GLBT Pride center and have been told a few times that I will receive a call back to discuss my questions and do my interview, however I have still not received a call back yet. I alo have tried several times to get a tour of the homeless shelter and to speak with someone there regarding the amount of homeless youth believed to be addicted to drugs that end up in the SLC, UT facility, however I have not been able to access to area indoors yet. For the positive turns and unexpected turns taken, I was able to meet a few homeless kids, and to feed them. I was also able to meet and speak with a homeless disabled African American woman and she explained to me that few homeless people trust food from civilians, because they fear they will be harmed by them. I suppose learning that information would be an unexpected score. The missed opportunities so far have been not being able to have access to the facility and be able to photograph the interior of the facility or to interview someone knowledgable and running the place, however I will not stop trying and it isnt too late just yet.