Monday, January 7, 2013

The Pilgrim

Somewhere in the mayhem of days that precedes Christmas I heard about The Pilgrim.

I don't remember how or where, but I had enough wherewithal to grab a pencil and scribble down the name of the pubication and one particular writer before resubmerging under the deluge of gift wrapping, food preparation and festivities.

The Pilgrim is a magazine in Boston that publishes the voices of that city's large homeless population. I say, that city, but really, what city doesn't have a large homeless population? In Oregon it's not limited just to Portland. When I travel south on the interstate there are people at every freeway onramp and exit holding cardboard signs detailing their need and asking for help.

If you believe the handwritten pleas, these people are ex-military, moms and dads out of work for seven months, young people who can't find jobs. More and more frequently I roll down my car window and hand out dollar bills. When I scan their faces they look less methamphetamine ravaged and more like people who could use a good meal.

There's a lot to write about here.

I don't intend to tackle the issues of adequate homeless shelters, food and our economy all in one blog post, instead I want to talk about art and expression.

The ability to voice your experience and have your voice be acknowledged is a crucial step toward changing the way we think about the homeless. Instead of viewing them as a seething mass of semi-humanity, it allows individuals to be named and reclaim their place in society.

Margaret Miranda is a homeless woman and a writer for The Pilgrim. This is an excerpt from one of the pieces she wrote for its December issue:

At a time when I wanted to blend into the earth in every sense you insisted I take a reversible winter jacket - hot pink on one side, electric blue on the other - so I could not escape your opinion that I was precious and wanted to be safe in traffic.
 
Margaret Miranda is just one of many voices. If you have a minute stop by to read some of the others that so often go unheard and unrecognized. http://hereandnow.wbur.org/files/2012/12/1219_pilgrim-magazine.pdf

16 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What an amazing publication!

jaybird said...

Wow, I've never heard of The Pilgrim before this, but I am going to go check it out right now! That's amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Gail said...

I'm glad people are realizing only a few paychecks separate us.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

What a unique idea. That is a labor of love for sure.

Barbara Watson said...

Powerful. Both your words and theirs.

Colene Murphy said...

Oh, wow. That is so heartbreaking. Would love to read! Thanks for the heads up that exists. Very powerfully written, on you and them.

ilima said...

That's one of the coolest things I've ever heard of. Wow.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Wow. Just that excerpt is something else. It's a great example of how important the written word is.

Johanna Garth said...

Thanks everyone. I was so excited to read The Pilgrim and this discovery came at a time when it felt healthy to focus on people who were struggling with real problems instead of the petty day-to-day type things.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Wow, what an amazing idea. When does anyone hear what someone like this has to say. Thanks for sharing.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

As someone said above, it can take only a few missing paychecks for someone to find themselves in this position ... with an inadequate support system and a society too willing to judge them. I am happy The Pilgrim has heard their voices and shares them with the world.

Carol Kilgore said...

I believe this magazine may do a lot to change the lives of many people. Thanks for letting us know.

jenny milchman said...

That's a voice that should find readers. Thanks for sharing this, Johanna.

Joshua said...

Nice. Very nice to see this morning. Thanks for this.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It sounds like an interesting publication; I'm going to check it out. Chicago has something similar to the Pilgrim. It's called Streetwise and the homeless people sell it. It's a way for them to earn money, because I think they sell the issues for $2 apiece and get to keep more than a dollar of every $2. I buy one or two copies a week, and I bring sandwiches to one of the sellers. It makes me feel sad and wish that I could do more, but at the same time it's good that there are publications like Streetwise and Pilgrim that give these people a voice.

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow I hadn't heard of this. What a great idea!