Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Hundred Thousand Others and a Hundred Thousand More

Homelessness is the worse stigma in America, worse than being fat, than being unemployed, than being a person of color, than being mentally ill or being a criminal. Homelessness is the equivalent of being all those things at one time.

Becky Blanton
My friend Becky Blanton, someone I've written about before, has produced terrific a free e-book called Homeless for the Holidays that offers practical advice about giving to the homeless this holiday season (and year-round) in ways that truly make a difference.

The e-book lists all kinds of things that homeless people actually need (good socks, 12-volt appliances, pre-paid cell phones, a backpack or carryall), 101 ideas for ways you can help that really help.

It's well-designed and includes lots of information about homelessness in America, including Becky's own story of the year she found herself without work, living in her van with her dog. (Three years later she was giving a talk about it at TEDGlobal in Oxford, England.)

You can download the e-book pdf here.

And while I have you, and on a related subject, the ever-acerbic Joe Bagaent has much to say about the American way of work in this post from Ajijo, Mexico.

Finally, because it seems appropriate, and because it's probably first among many of my favorite Woody Guthrie songs, I'll leave you with the lyrics to "I Ain't Got No Home," a song he wrote in 1938 to the tune of a popular Baptist hymn of the time, "This World is Not My Home." Where the hymn counseled the poor and displaced to accept their fate and seek their home in the next life, Woody's lyrics turned that sanguine notion on its head.

I ain't got no home, I'm just a ramblin' around
Work when I can get it, I roam from town to town
The police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore

I was farmin' shares and always I was done
My debts they was so many they wouldn't go around
Drought got my crops and Mr. Banker's at my door
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore

Six children I have raised, they're scattered and they're gone
And my darling wife to heaven she has flown
She died of the fever upon the cabin floor
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore

I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been workin' mister since the day that I was born
I worry all the time like I never did before
Cause I ain't got no home in this world anymore

Now I just ramble around to see what I can see
This wide wicked world is a funny place to be
The gamblin' man is rich and the workin' man is poor
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore

I'm stranded on this road that goes from sea to sea
A hundred thousand others are stranded here with me
A hundred thousand others and a hundred thousand more
I ain't got no home in this world anymore

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