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Invisible People: Open Letter to Senators, Representatives, Governor, and President

My husband is a disabled Vietnam veteran.  Without his disability stipend, social security payments, and my counseling practice, we could easily be among those you’ll read about here.

Each night, hundreds of thousands of Americans are homeless in the United States. They lay their heads down to rest in our public parks, on bus-stop benches, and in tent encampments. They sleep in their RVs and cars, under bridges, and in weekly-rate motel rooms that are unsafe for adults and unfit for children. Every year, more than a million men, women, and children are homeless in the United States. This would be a moral outrage anywhere, but in the richest country in the history of the world, it is unconscionable.

Only last winter a homeless man familiar to many Santa Feans froze to death on the sidewalk in front of the Starbuck’s on the Plaza.  It made the news, but nothing changed.  Veterans in particular are vulnerable, not only because of homelessness, but because PTSD and other battle-related injuries and illnesses make them afraid of other people and thus unable to come in from the cold.

How is it possible that a crisis of this magnitude exists? It is unacceptable. The question for us is this:

Will we sit back and continue to let it happen, or will we stand up together and demand better for our fellow Americans?

I appeal to you, I urge you – Make ending homelessness a priority. In the vast array of societal issues you care about, please remember that people are literally dying on the streets every day because they do not have housing. Each day that we allow this to happen, we are failing our brothers and sisters. It is time to take real action toward restoring the lives and dignity of homeless people.

In order to end homelessness, we need well-designed community systems that work together, and we must improve our homelessness prevention work. Long term solutions such as livable wages, affordable housing, and access to healthcare are all crucial elements in turning the tide on the homeless crisis.

The time to act is now. Let’s work together to make ending homelessness a priority today. If you feel moved to help– and I hope you will– please contact me at orenda-arts.org so that we can discuss viable options for ending this tragic situation.

Visit http://invisiblepeople.tv to hear raw, unedited and unfiltered stories from people experiencing homelessness. 


 

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To share…or not to share?

I’ll be showing you some photos, taken in Santa Fe, NM, on Old Pecos Trail, January 8, 2020. They may or may not upset you. You are invited to share your views in the space designed for comments below. Please DO NOT post racist, violent, obscene, or insulting comments. They will be marked as spam and trashed. There is enough war in the world and we don’t need one here. The object of this exercise is twofold: first, in the spirit of Wholebeing Wellness, to help bring our unacknowledged wounds and/or biases to the surface of consciousness for healing, and second, to initiate a productive and hopefully positive dialogue. The question I’m asking is simply this: is it better to know what’s going on in our world and perhaps address it, or to hide from this knowledge in hopes that “it won’t happen here?” In a fast-shrinking world, NIMBY is not a choice– it’s a disease.

Granted, in Santa Fe, this sort of activism is somewhat unusual– not because of the content of the imagery but because of how and where it is displayed– in a private neighborhood rather than a public place. Indeed one mother, walking by with her two children, confronted me yesterday as I was taking the photos and demanded to know what I thought about them. When I told her I felt that the display was timely and appropriate she became upset and insisted that it was “disturbing to young families” to see this sort of thing where they walked every day. I reminded her that she had children the same age as those depicted here, implying that a little compassion might be in order. But she wasn’t having any of that, so I just ended the conversation and went on with the photo shoot.

About the images: They were created by a Navajo artist who calls himself Remy– taken from actual photographs, enlarged, and attached to the wall with wheat paste. The wall on which they are mounted belongs to Guthrie Miller, a retired Los Alamos Laboratory scientist who had an epiphany and decided to “out” the violence to which he believes our military industrial complex contributes. He is a brave man– one who, despite the strong opposition of many of his neighbors, continues to allow the nonprofit Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine to post images on his wall. As you can see, some objecting viewers have already begun to tear the images off the wall.

Young Palestinian boy throwing rocks at an Israeli tank
Twelve-year-old Palestinian boy assassinated by Israeli troops
Israeli solder aiming at boy protecting his younger brother
Palestinian children behind a wall
Palestinian woman defending children from Israeli soldier threatening to shoot them

And finally, an image posted earlier by a different artist.

Feel free to comment– but remember, please be kind.