Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho was homeless in São Paulo, Brazil, for nearly 35 years, and became locally known for sitting in the same spot and writing every day. In April 2011, he was befriended by a young woman named Shalla Monteiro. Impressed by his poetry and wanting to help him with his dream of publishing a book, she created a Facebook Page to feature Raimundo’s writing. Neither could have expected what happened next.
Stereotypes; good, bad or indifferent? We think a lot about stereotypes at Urban Seed; wanting to breakdown the stereotypes of how we view homeless people.
The thing about stereotypes is that they are not necessarily wrong, just incomplete. You see to a certain extent stereotypes can be helpful, as they help us make sense of the world. When we see someone in a school uniform we know they go to school. When we see someone in a hard hat and steel cap boots with a fluro vest we know they are a builder. The issue becomes when we take this stereotype further and end up making a judgment or prejudice from this.
As Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says:
“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
In her powerful Ted talk she warns us about the danger of a single story. When we only have a single story we end up with an incomplete picture and therefore end up judging.
What single story have we heard about homeless people? Do we need to hear another one?
Shame and empathy researcher Dr.Brené Brown explaining the difference between empathy and sympathy.
“The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.”
Cameron Stollery (the World 2×2 Cube Champion), Chris Keegan, Matthew Smith, Cameron Gillespie , Alastair Whitely and James Chin from Kingswood College helped run a Speedcubing event as a fundraiser for Urban Seed.
26 competitors from Victoria and interstate battled it out in the 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, 5×5, 6×6 and Pyraminx cubes.
Each competitor paid $15 dollars entry and Cameron Strollery’s sponsors LighTake donated prizes for competitors.
All up they raised $453.45!
Thank You guys for your support!
I just walked past a homeless man.
(I am assuming he was homeless as he had no shoes on, dirty clothes, mated hair and was looking through a bin. )
As I past him I tried to not look at him, I didn’t want to gain eye contact.
Honestly, I didn’t want to give him any money. I didn’t want to help him. And I knew that by looking at him, and getting eye contact with him I would feel terribly guilty about not helping him. I don’t want to feel bad. So the best tactic was (is) to pretend I didn’t see him and just keep walking. Just act as if he didn’t exist.
The problem is this didn’t/doesn’t really work. I still feel terrible. This man does exist and is probably still wondering the streets looking in bins, without and shoes.
Although this video is highlighting the transformation of a homeless man from an on the surface to a deeper level. To me this video is about stereotypes. About how we judge and treat someone based on what they look like. As shallow as this sounds, if we take a look into our own lives we wont have to look hard to find examples.
We tell a story at Urban Seed, and although it is an old one, and has almost entered the realm of myth. It holds a profound truth about stereotypes. It goes something like this:
There was once a man who worked on the top of end of Collins St in Melbourne. He was a successful business man, looked the part and fit in very well in the city.
He was invited to a fancy dress party at the Old Melbourne Goal. Not wanting to dress the same as everyone else he decided he would go as a homeless man. He thought he was being rather clever, given that the Old Melbourne Gaol was known for the likes of Ned Kelly and prisoners. He thought a homeless man was a good modern twist of the outsider in society.
Wanting to look the part and have the best costume he deiced to grow his beard out. He went to the op shop and found dirty hole-ly trousers. A slipper and an un-matching shoe to go with. About 3 overcoats. And he stuffed plastic bags full of rags. We wore fingerless gloves and a beanie. And even made a cardboard sign asking for money and put a bottle in a brown paper bag.
This fancy dress party happened to be after work. So the man decided to get changed at walk and then walk to the party. So he took off his nice suit and put on his ‘hobo’ costume. Then hit the streets of Melbourne at peak hour on his way to the party.
As he walked up the busy streets to the party something strange happened. He had this feeling that everyone was looking at him, but no one was looking him. Instead of having to push his way through the crowds like he normally would after work, he had all this space around him. And one person even crossed the street as he got close. This started to disturb him. Did people think he was homeless?
His suspicions were confirmed when he went to get some cigarettes to complete his outfit. As he went to go in the 7-11, the man serving from behind the counter came out and stood in the doorway stopping him from entering, and said, “you can’t come in here!”
The man was taken a back. He just wanted to get some smokes. He’d never been knocked back from a shop before. Thinking on his feet, he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out his wallet, and said “what makes you think I can’t pay?”
Immediately the shop keeper, stepped aside and let him in.
This story makes us question whether we really know who someone is. I think we all would have assumed this man was homeless had we seen him that day walking the streets.
It also highlights how we include or exclude people based on they way they look. As I feel this video is highlighting.
And finally it makes a sad point about money, and how it talks and changes everything.
Homesick: A documentary
Homesick is a feature length documentary film about four homeless friends whose lives take a turn for the better when they are told they are to be part of a bold new housing initiative. After living for years in the chaotic and sometimes violent world of their South Melbourne rooming houses Sue, Grant, Lee and Ingrid are given a chance to create a home where they can re-build their lives. Their compelling story is based on the central dramatic question; Will having a place to call home be the catalyst for positive changes in their lives?
While following our characters’ journeys over four years, they have allowed us intimate access into their worlds, courageously revealing the emotional and psychological impact of living without a home.The upheaval of moving again and again takes its toll, but when our characters finally get to move into their new accommodation, the results are both interesting and surprising.This is a story that interrogates the real meaning of the word home.
They have just launched a Pozible Crowdfunding campaign to raise completion funds for the film.
Check out this great video, ‘Couch for Rent’, made by made by young people in Ballarat through Lead On Ballarat’s Get Reel film program. It explores many of the complex issues of youth homelessness.