Showing posts from January, 2011

Fighting for Positive Change

On Tuesday, January 25th many Americans sat with their eyes glued to their television sets as President Obama gave his State of the Union Address. I watched it with several dozen of my best friends at Busboys and Poets (@ 5th and K streets in NW DC), a local restaurant/bar which is frequented by activists.

Obama drew much applause as he emphasized the need for quality education. He also gained favor as he promised to create more green jobs. He even supported the "Dream Act" without calling it by name. He said things that appealed to all segments of the American populace (and avoided some hot-button issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict). But the advocate (or sycophant) in each of us quite naturally causes us to focus on the issues that interest us the most. And I'm no exception to the rule.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when Obama said toward the beginning of his speech that, "Due to the invention of robots, a hundred workers in a steel factory can now do what …

A Month After It All Began

As you well know, homeless advocacy is not just about raising awareness of the homeless issue. After all, it's hard not to know it exists if you live in the city and see homeless people in the storefronts begging for change or dozens of them sitting in the park. Homeless advocacy is about getting results -- improving the lives of the homeless while they are in shelters and on the streets as well as getting them housed and changing the policies that create or perpetuate homelessness. This is true of all forms of homeless advocacy, even on-line advocacy and that which plays out in the mass media.

On December 13th, 2010 I found myself at the center of what would become a 4-week long media frenzy. It began with a Washington Post profile of me. That day I was also mentioned in the DC Express (free newspaper put out by WashPo), the Huffington Post (on-line newspaper) and did an interview on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Radio. They all capitalized on my use of the internet…

Missions Accomplished.....And Those Yet To Be Accomplished

We all still have etched into our minds the vision of former president George W. Bush standing on a ship under a banner that reads,"Mission Accomplished". Seven years later, he is still mocked and ostracized for that speech as the Iraq War rages on. Then there is the photo of Bush flying over New Orleans and looking so distant as people suffered below. Thus, he continues to be talked about for his failures -- both foreign and domestic. Some would argue that he actually DID accomplish his mission in New Orleans by willfully ignoring people whom he considered to be second-class citizens who were unimportant.

This raises questions about the mission of any and all modern-day U.S. presidents and members of Congress. As a self-proclaimed Theistic Marxist, I see crapitalism and its kissing cousin named corporatism as the causes of many of our nation's societal ills. that said, I firmly believe that the governments of our nation DO have an over-arching mission and that each…

TED WILLIAMS and ERIC SHEPTOCK: The Same, But Different

You would have to be in a coma or living in a third-world country without the benefits of electricity in order not to know who TED WILLIAMS is. The homeless man from Ohio with the radio voice is all the rage these days. But he is one of several homeless people whose talents and worth are gaining them recognition these days. I just got through doing an interview with WUSA9 NEWS in which he and I were juxtaposed and compared. I must say that we are the same but different.

Over the past couple of days, friends and fellow-advocates have told me what I already knew -- that TED WILLIAMS is a homeless man who landed a good job, whereas I am a homeless advocate who helps many homeless people. The media is focused on what has been done for him and what I do for others. To that extent our stories differ, even though we both have experienced homelessness.

We both have become media phenoms. However, in my case the media attention has increased gradually over the course of four and a h…

The Homeless Work Ethic

I'm sure that, at some point in your life, you've heard at least one person being referred to as a "lazy bum". You might have been the one to call them that. Well, I'm here to tell you that most "bums" are not lazy at all. During a recent media frenzy that focused on my use of the internet and social media to advocate pro bono for the homeless, there were those who gave me accolades and those who essentially called me lazy and said that I should just get a job -- as if homeless advocacy isn't work. Also, a Huffington Post article erroneously said that I have not worked a full-time job since 1994. I, therefore, saw fit to inform people as to how hard other homeless people and I really do work. I apologize in advance for what promises to be a longer-than-usual blog post, as there is much to be said about the hard work of the homeless.

Before addressing the paid work done by the homeless, I must say that just BEING homeless is a lot of work. Homel…