Homeless Hotspots SXSW

March 13, 2012 by staff 

Homeless Hotspots SXSW, Thus, when we log on to the Homeless Hot Spots Web site, we are introduced to Clarence. In fact, when you visit Clarence’s homepage, you are invited to make a donation. The page explains, “Homeless Hotspots is a charitable innovation initiative by BBH New York. It attempts to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations.”

Is this really what this is about? BBH New York calls the homeless their “collaborators.” They contend the have offered “homeless individuals an opportunity to sell a digital service instead of a material commodity.”

Before we judge, let’s meet somebody else. Let’s meet Moody Roark, a vendor for Streetwise, the Chicago street newspaper.

Moody’s “poet name” is ‘r.e. moody.’ According to his bio on his Web site hosted by Streetwise, Moody “is a Vietnam veteran who has always set a good example for other vendors. He works hard, has a great rapport with his customer base and cares about the people with whom he interacts. He is also a very talented poet and began writing poetry at the age of 12.”

Here’s a part of one of r.e. moody’s poems: “The war has just shed another forgotten soldier of fortune. Stripped of his strength, a stranger to these times; Merely a babe these days, these times. Troubled man, the hero…”

Moody Roark’s poem helped me think about what’s in the news today, the American soldier accused of the massacre of women and children in Afghanistan. According to media reports, this American soldier had brain damaged from a combat injury.

Moody made me reflect: Don’t we make a mistake in calling those we send to war “heroes” when perhaps, with their injuries, body, mind and spirit, we should call them “babes” or even “victims”?

But who’s kidding whom here? BBH claims it is taking the high road, trying to get street newspapers modernized through digital technology. Streetwise is already in cyberspace, in a way that does not make Moody a cyber-portal, but lets him showcase his art and his knowledge. Moody became who he is today through war, the Vietnam War. We learn from Moody. We learn about war, something very much needed today. He is making money selling Streetwise, but he’s not selling his soul. He’s touching ours.

Streetwise, I contend, is a way for Moody and many other vendors like him to have some basic dignity, not only in the way he makes money from selling papers, but from their online showcasing of their work as creators, as artists, as people of ability.

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