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My ride to Peace House takes me right past an apartment building Susan and I lived in 40 years ago. This morning, I saw two guys unloading a mattress and carrying it up those steps. End of the month, winter... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
She had been sitting quietly next to me, a cantaloupe in her lap. "What does it mean, 'a cross to bear'?" I explained. It's a heavy and unchosen burden that you must carry with you, whether you want to or... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Virgil speaks like a preacher imitating God teaching Sunday School. His voice is deep and resonant, his tones round, his words ar-TIC-ulated in-di-VID-ually, his meaning plain, shaded toward the platitudinous. But then Bible verses haven't changed much in the last... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Another couch house has appeared across the alley. A week ago, a new abandoned couch showed up in the spot occupied by the Happy Hour Couch until mid-October. Couch House is back open for business. From the time I first... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
We had a spirited discussion about voting today. Rather quickly, it turned to the subject of a felon's right to vote in Minnesota. Quite a number of individuals in the room had first-hand acquaintance with the state law, which prohibits... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Years ago a white man in a suit crossed a sunny St. Paul parking lot toward his red convertible. From the direction of the freeway opposite, a tall young black man hailed him and bore down upon the same point.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
For more than a month a couch house sat against the fence across the alley from Peace House Community. Several weeks ago, two police cars came by. A city mower had been unable to cut the grass along the freeway... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
On the street, even people sleeping out in the rain and waking up with a hangover can find someone else to look down on. Ranks of dissolution and recovery are further gradated by race, personality type, work ethic, degree of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
"How do you like this neighborhood?" he asked. "Does it feel safe to you?" I was locking my bike to a pole on his street. I knew better than to leave slack in the cable. Otherwise, an enterprising thief could... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
You realize I'm making up stories here, don't you? I mean, I don't fabricate and I usually try to verify, but I'm still filling the blanks with some of my stuff, like we all do. In fact, I specialize in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
In the Library, Tyrone was changing out of his boots and the talk turned to Semmelweis and Pasteur, and whether it made sense to wear clogs in the shower. One view was that footgear was unnatural, dirt and handshakes boosted... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Chances were fair that I would not see that bicycle again. It was a gift after all, and what of giving grants us the right of keeping? I'd bought the Frankenbike long ago from the man who'd built it for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Roxanne, a Native woman known to the Peace House Community, fell on some train tracks last weekend and had both legs severed. I'd heard about it on Tuesday and checked during the week for a news story with more information.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
This blog started in 2004. In 2009 I began writing about my experiences as a volunteer in the preschool at People Serving People, a Minneapolis family shelter. In the years since, I have volunteered more places and Across the Great... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Calvin told me his brother was going for a job interview this afternoon. (Sometimes, I need to get to a job interview is a way of asking for gas money, which is a way of getting money for... you get... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Tom is heading to St. Cloud where two twins are throwing surprise birthday parties for each other. This makes total sense and it's crazy, too. Yes, I'm at Peace House. *** Bill hasn't had electricity in his room "for some... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
"Do you work here?" he asked. We'll call him Joe. I'm a volunteer, I said. Joe stared at me but I couldn't see his eyes. They were squeezed between a squint and full closure. The gaze of a man shutting... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Gary holds forth for some time as he fingers the house acoustic guitar, a scarred, sixties-vintage Harmony missing a pick guard and patched on the sides and back with two colors of tape. It sounds far better than it looks.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Find the book in the bookstore. Colleges still invest in their libraries, which signal the institution's reverence for knowledge and commitment to learning. Increasingly, they expect their bookstores to turn a profit, like airport swag concessions. The "bookstore" I entered... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
We talked about what I do and they were interested in getting their story out to the world. I just didn't want to commit to any particular approach until I better understood the place and members of the community. This will evolve. But so far being in this community setting has led me to reflect on my stance as a third party. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
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Writers must have a tiny, undiscovered organ that makes us salivate when we hear certain stories. Someone donated a copy of my novel to the Peace House library, so I'm not totally undercover as writer here. The account I heard... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
In my quest to further enlighten myself about aspects of homelessness, today I visited the Peace House Community in Minneapolis. Unlike the service-based organizations organizations I've volunteered with, Peace House is rather stripped down programmatically. It has good coffee and... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Nothing's for sale in Lost Springs. According to Coldwell Banker, "In Lost Springs, 50% of homes are owned, 25% are rented, and 25% are not occupied." We returned from Colorado this week via blue highways, a convoluted route that detoured... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
A man I'll call Buzz was talking about receiving four trespassing tickets in the past week. Since getting out of jail and completing his parole, he's been living on the streets downtown. Last Wednesday night he received three tickets as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Twice today, the Day Center was utterly quiet for a minute. That happens early and late, but in seven years, I don't recall it happening in the middle of the day. These quiet moments reminded me that most of day... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2016 at Across the Great Divide