Leslie Castellano had a big weekend with a couple of aerial performances, the beautiful silk art form she teaches at Synapsis. This photo is from a party in the Synapsis studio/workshop on West 3rd, not far from the Eureka Co-op. It's not exactly what you might call a "good" part of town, and we ended up talking about the neighbors in her hood, and about how they deal with the bitter weather this time of year. This morning she sent me a note via Facebook, a report of some sad news of one her neighbors who lived on the street.
In memory of Robert.
Robert slept just down the street outside of Synapsis. I talked with him almost every day. He died last night from the cold. I miss him.
Robert took apart electronics and old windows and recycled the metals from them to make money. He was a gentle person and rather shy. He would often talk loudly to himself if he was upset, which could intimidate some people, but he was always respectful. I heard that he experienced an extreme loss and that is what brought him to the streets.
I would try to check on him during the day and when I was around Synapsis at night...and had been thinking about him a lot lately. He preferred to sleep outside.
I have been thinking a lot about people's perceptions of those who are houseless or living on the streets. It is popular in this area to generalize about people who have meth addictions or who have challenges with "normalcy" and to criticize them. Lately, young men have been driving by and throwing eggs at the people who are camped around Synapsis. There have been public meetings about the homeless "problem."
If you have any friends or conversations with people who are houseless, then you already know that most people are on the streets because there is not a place for them in everyday society. I am not an advocate of meth, but meth addiction does not make someone an evil person. It often means someone is self-medicating. Yes, crimes are sometimes committed by people who have addictions ... but these crimes pale in comparison to those committed by corporations. Why is it so easy in our society to criticize those who have the least? Those who choose not to participate in capitalist lifestyles?
I think we have better options in our society. We cannot wait for institutions to create the world we want to exist. I ask that people take a break from consumerism during this time to give something to someone who has less than you do. To create a space for compassion that is centered around actions in the world. I am willing to offer the use of Synapsis to anyone who wants to do anything there. Every Tuesday I open the space for art and hot soup and tea and conversation. From 1-3:30 p.m. You can come if you like. Perhaps there could be something late at night too? I don't know. I would love to be part of a working group around actively creating a society that we want. Starting with those who are at the bottom of the capitalist pyramid. WIlderness and animals, those who live in poverty. I wonder if I could have done more for Robert. I hope he is in peace.
In memory of Robert. With love. And action.
I dug a few warm coats out of the closet - I don't need them as much as someone does. You can reach Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help. Or there's lots of people like Betty Chinn doing things to help these cold nights. Give them a hand.