Free Digi-Download — DEAR WORLD

Everyone has an opinion about homeless people. The population polarizes people. Victims or villains, they are cast in harshly stereotyped roles that fit a made-for-tv movie more than they do in real life. The pregnant teenager who left her parents house to be with her boyfriend. The man who lost it all after a series of bad gambles. The meth-heads who destroyed their lives for another hit. The shifty veteran who was dishonorably discharged. So many stereotypes.

Stereotypes hold grains of truth in them. I’ve met members of the homeless community who fit each of those. But not everyone is like that. Two years ago, I worked on a book project with a team of photographers on the homeless population in Portland, Oregon. Specifically, we wanted to know what was drawing teenagers to flock to the streets. What we found surprised us.

· A large percentage of the teens interviewed had been part of the foster-care system in Oregon. Almost all of them reported some form of abuse by caregivers. The abuse could by sexual, physical, or emotional.

· Portland  is a magnet city for the homeless population. The days are mild and the citizens are generous. To quote a member of the street community, “If you are homeless and hungry in Portland, you’re stupid.”

· Many teens felt more welcomed by their street family than they did their biological family. Everyone has a role in a street family and they look out for each other.

· There’s a growing population of couch-surfers; people who live neither on the street or in homes but are transient just the same.

· Most of them don’t want to be on the streets and rely on handouts. They have dreams, just like the rest of us.


That starts to shift your perception of them, doesn’t it? There are many criminals and dangerous people on the streets, but there are quite a few vulnerable people too. Flat characters take shape into 3-D people with lives and emotions. Homelessness occurs when families and the American system don’t work. Without safety nets, people fall to the street, land on glass and are left to put their lives back together.

For the next month, we’re giving away digital copies of Dear World, the book that we wrote. Inside of it are portraits and biographies of street members. You’ll hear their stories in their voices. You’ll see people beneath the grime. You’ll discover ways that you can reach out.

See the need. Be the change.

One Response to “Free Digi-Download — DEAR WORLD”
  1. Nicole says:

    Loved this book – what an amazing opportunity, Caitlin! Bravo!

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