[Hpn] Homeless Americans publish personal sites to challenge generally accepted ideas

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Wed, 05 Nov 2003 01:55:38 -0500


Note: Recipient list undisclosed

"Homeless Americans publish personal sites to challenge generally accepted 
ideas"


Three bloggers who live homeless in the USA were featured in an article, 
authored by Chantal Dussuel, published last week (Tuesday, October 28, 2003) 
in an online publication based in France.

The article, which I think is a very good one if I say so myself, primarily 
focused on Crystal Evans of Boston, Massachusetts and The Homeless Guy -- 
Kevin Barbieux of Nashville, Tennessee.

Deep within the article was a very brief mention about yours truly.

That is probably a good thing too, as much to my bemused amazement, the 
Vermont Homeless Journal was described as being a "collective blog of 
militants for the right to housing."


Militant Bloggers for Housing in Vermont?


That was news to me too?!

Not only has the Vermont Homeless Journal not very active since it was 
initially formed as a team blog, but to my knowledge, none of us are armed 
to the teeth for that matter either.

Nor have we -- as a group of bloggers on the Vermont Homeless Journal anyway 
-- blogged anything of a nature regarding housing or homelessness that I 
would think could be referred to as being militant.

Though it is true we feel rather strongly about the need for housing 
concerning people living homeless and some of our blog posts say so too.

Yet this is not to complain about it however. It is just something I mention 
because it has had me scratching my head a lot this past week, along with 
laughing and smiling plenty as well.


Read French Anyone?


For those who can read French and have not already come across the article, 
go to:

Des SDF américains publient leur site perso pour bousculer les idées reçues: 
http://www.transfert.net/a9497

Just so you know though, the Website is a subscribers online publication 
that only allows a certain amount of limited free reads of articles offered 
on their site.

It also does not seem to allow for attempts to translate the article page 
using free online translators either. Such attempts usually brings one to a 
page saying one must subscribe to go any further.

If you are like me and are not able to read the French language whatsoever, 
here are links to a two part translated version (graciously done by someone 
whose French is rusty, according to them) and is hosted on the blog of 
Crystal Evans:

Part One:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/being_homeless/187853.html?thread=1507533#t1507533

and

Part Two:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/being_homeless/187853.html?thread=1507789#t1507789


For those not inclined to click the above provided Web addresses however, 
below is a forward of the article as originally published, followed by the 
two part english translation featured on Crystal Evans' blog.

Enjoy!

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf: http://nht.blogspot.com

--------------------------------------------------------

-------Forwarded FYI-------

Culture
Etats-Unis / Médias


28/10/2003 . 12h05

Des SDF américains publient leur site perso pour bousculer les idées reçues
http://www.transfert.net/a9497

Le blog du pauvre, un cas à part dans l'univers plutôt nanti de l'édition en
ligne


Dossier : "Le phénomène des blogs"

Crystal Evans édite un blog, c'est-à-dire qu'elle raconte sa vie sur un site
web, comme des milliers d'autres internautes. Rien d'original à cela. Sauf
que cette Bostonienne de 22 ans décrit un quotidien dont on entend rarement
parler : faire la queue pendant des heures pour obtenir un lit dans un
centre d'accueil de SDF. Dormir malgré le bruit et parfois le danger. Passer
la nuit dehors, quand il n'y a plus de place, à trembler de froid et de
peur. Se faire cracher dessus par un passant...

Crystal vit sans domicile fixe depuis mars 2003. Homeless et internaute ?
Certains lecteurs de son site croient à un canular. D'autres s'indignent :
si Crystal a le temps et les moyens intellectuels de tenir un journal en
ligne, pourquoi n'a-t-elle ni travail ni logement ?

C'est pour lutter contre ces idées reçues que Crystal a décidé de publier
son journal sur l'internet dès mars 2003. Pour rappeler que les SDF
correspondent rarement au cliché du clochard alcoolique affalé sur le
trottoir. "Les gens perdent leur logement pour toutes sortes de raisons,
explique-t-elle, pas seulement à cause de l'alcoolisme ou de la drogue...
Parmi les sans-domicile, il y a des enfants, des personnes âgées, des
familles, des femmes battues, des handicapés, des personnes ayant des
problèmes de santé physique ou mentale. Et même des gens qui ont un
travail."


Trois ans d'attente


Sur sa page perso, Crystal a répondu d'avance aux questions inévitables.
L'accès à Internet ? Gratuit à la bibliothèque municipale et dans des
centres de quartier. Un ami lui a montré comment se servir d'un logiciel de
blog, simple et gratuit.

L'origine de la vie actuelle de Crystal ? Un accident de la route en février
2001. Un traumatisme crânien et des séquelles - vertiges, convulsions,
troubles neurologiques - qui lui ont fait perdre 9 emplois en 16 mois et
l'empêchent encore aujourd'hui de travailler. Le début d'un long cauchemar
bureaucratique, avant d'avoir enfin accès à une rééducation et obtenir une
allocation d'aide aux handicapés. De quoi se nourrir mais pas de se loger.

Brouillée avec sa famille chrétienne fondamentaliste, Crystal a fini par se
rabattre sur les centres d'hébergement de SDF. Les jours de fête, elle dort
chez des amis sur un canapé. En attendant que l'Etat du Massachusetts lui
octroie une aide au logement suffisante. Mais aux dernières nouvelles, il
faudra encore patienter trois ans, tant les listes d'attente sont longues.

La jeune SDF affirme que tenir son blog l'a beaucoup aidée. A reprendre
confiance, d'abord, elle qui avait l'habitude d'être "traitée avec mépris
par la société, les travailleurs sociaux et les autres sans-abri". Bien
qu'elle reçoive régulièrement des e-mails d'insultes, ses lecteurs - entre
600 et 900 selon ses estimations - lui apportent souvent soutien moral et
encouragements. Et parfois une aide matérielle, comme cette internaute
anglaise qui lui a envoyé des draps neufs et un cadeau d'anniversaire.

Crystal s'est liée d'amitié avec certains de ses lecteurs et en a rencontré
physiquement une vingtaine. Son blog relate ses amitiés ainsi que ses
activités : bénévolat, séances de rééducation et un atelier d'écriture
qu'elle suit dans l'espoir de reprendre un jour ses études.


Un illustre prédécesseur


Crystal n'est pas la première SDF à publier un blog. Depuis août 2002, le
site thehomelessguy.net donne un aperçu de la vie de Kevin Barbieux, 42 ans.
Cet homme divorcé, père de deux enfants, est sans-abri par intermittence
depuis une vingtaine d'années. Il reconnaît "n'avoir jamais réussi à
s'intégrer à la société". Et évoque en filigrane de graves problèmes de
dépression et de phobie sociale.

Depuis la bibliothèque de Nashville, dans le Tennessee, il raconte les
brimades subies dans les centres d'hébergement. Et les agressions parfois
mortelles dont sont victimes les SDF qui dorment dans la rue. Il dénonce les
politiques des pouvoirs publics américains face au problème des sans-abri,
politiques à son avis "plus punitives qu'utiles". Autodidacte, il tient sur
son site la liste de ses dernières lectures. Un SDF qui lit Jung et Virginia
Woolf : là encore, la réalité bouscule les stéréotypes et en choque plus
d'un.

A l'automne 2002, des articles dans la presse américaine et internationale
ont fait du homeless de Nashville une célébrité du net. Grâce à la
générosité d'internautes, il a pu loger pendant plusieurs mois dans un
motel. Un an plus tard, il est à nouveau SDF. Il travaille à mi-temps mais
ne gagne pas de quoi se loger. Il essaie régulièrement "de trouver un moyen
de vivre comme les gens 'normaux', mais cela échoue toujours pour une raison
ou une autre".


Aumône en ligne


Kevin Barbieux apprécie beaucoup le soutien de ses lecteurs. Mais il se dit
très blessé par les commentaires négatifs qu'il reçoit par e-mail,
l'accusant de "ne pas vouloir s'en sortir" ou de vivre aux crochets de la
société. A tel point qu'il a décidé à la mi-octobre de ne plus aborder de
"questions personnelles". Le fait qu'il accepte sur son site les dons
d'argent (au moyen du système de paiement PayPal n'en finit pas de susciter
des critiques. Un grand nombre de blogs américains ont pourtant recours à
cette pratique des "tip jars" (littéralement "pots à pourboire").

Il existe d'autres journaux en ligne de SDF moins connus. Par exemple celui
de Morgan W. Brown, qui vit dans l'Etat du Vermont. A ses yeux, son blog est
avant un "moyen d'expression personnelle". M. Brown anime également le
Vermont Homeless Journal, blog collectif de militants pour le droit au
logement.

Crystal Evans, Kevin Barbieux, Morgan W. Brown : trois individus parmi des
quelque 800 000 sans-abri vivant aux Etats-Unis, d'après les estimations
officielles. Trois cas particuliers - peut-être parmi les moins défavorisés
? - qui ne prétendent pas être représentatifs d'une réalité complexe et
multiforme.

"Aucun SDF n'est représentatif de tous les autres, insiste Leslie Lawrence,
directrice adjointe de la Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless,
organisme d'aide aux SDF de cet Etat. Chacun a ses propres problèmes. Mais
l'important est que des sans-abri puissent enfin prendre la parole, pour que
le public se rende compte que ce sont des gens comme les autres."

Donner aux SDF la possibilité de se faire entendre, c'est déjà ce que font
des journaux rédigés et vendus par des sans-abri dans une cinquantaine de
villes américaines. Michael Stoops, coordinateur de ces publications à la
National Coalition for the Homeless de Washington, estime que, pour ceux qui
savent s'en servir, les blogs offrent des possibilités d'expression et de
créativité similaires et permettent parfois d'atteindre un public plus
large. "Ce n'est pas parce qu'une personne est SDF qu'elle ne sait pas
écrire ni se servir d'un ordinateur, ajoute-t-il. Et qu'elle n'a pas le
droit de s'exprimer sur l'internet."


Chantal Dussuel


Le blog de Crystal Evans:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/being_homeless/

Le blog de Kevin Barbieux:
http://www.thehomelessguy.net

Le blog Morgan W. Brown:
http://nht.blogspot.com/

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless:
http://www.mahomeless.org/index.html

National Coalition for the Homeless:
http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

============================

Here you go (part 1):


Homeless Americans publish their personal sites to challenge received ideas

The blog of the poor, a case apart in the mostly secure world of online 
writing


Crystal Evans writes a blog, that is to say that she recounts her life on a 
web site, like millions of other Internet users. There's nothing original 
about that. Except that this 22-year-old Bostonian describes an everyday 
life about which we rarely speak: waiting in line for hours to get a bed in 
a homeless shelter. Sleeping in spite of noise and sometimes danger. 
Spending the night outside, when there's no more space, trembling from cold 
and fear. Passersby spitting on her...

Crystal has lived without a fixed residence since March of 2003. Homeless 
and an internet user? Certain readers of this site believe it's a hoax. 
Others say, indignantly: if Crystal has the time and the intellectual means 
to keep an online journal, why does she have neither work nor housing?

It is to fight against these received ideas that Crystal decided to publish 
her journal on the Internet since March 2003. To tell that the homeless 
correspond rarely to the cliche of an alocholic tramp lying on the pavement. 
"People lose their housing for all sorts of reasons," she explains, "not 
only because of alcoholism or drugs... among the homeless, there are 
children, old people, families, battered women, handicapped, people having 
problems with mental or physical health. And even people with jobs."


Three years of waiting


On her personal page, Crystal has responded in advance to the inevitable 
questions. Internet access? Free at the city library and in neighborhood 
centers. A friend showed her how to use blog software, simple and free.

The origin of Crystal's current life? An accident on the road in February of 
2001. Cranial trauma and its consequences - vertigo, convulsions, 
neurological trouble - that made her lose 9 jobs in 16 months and still 
keeps her from working. The beginning of a long bureaucratic nightmare, 
before finally getting access to rehabilitation and obtaining an allocation 
for help to the handicapped. Enough to feed herself, but not to find 
housing.

Tired of her fundamentalist Christian family, Crystal started to use the 
homeless shelters. On holidays, she slept at friends' houses on a couch. 
While waiting for the state of Massachusetts to give her help for sufficient 
housing. But the latest news is that she must wait another three years, 
since the waiting lists are long.

The young homeless woman affirms that having her blog has helped her a lot. 
To gain confidence, first of all, she who was used to "being treated with 
spite by society, social workers, and other homeless". Even though she 
regularly received insulting e-mail, her readers - 600 to 900 according to 
her estimates - often bring her moral support and encouragement. And 
sometimes material aid, such as the Englishwoman who sent her new cloth(?) 
and a birthday present.

Crystal is linked by friendship with some of her readers and has physically 
met about twenty. Her blog relates her friendships as well as her 
activities: volunteering, rehabilitation meetings, and a writing workshop 
which she goes to in hopes of one day again taking up her studies.

=============

part 2:


An illustrious predecessor


Crystal is not the first homeless person to publish a blog. Since August 
2002, the site thehomelessguy.net has given a perspective on the life of 
Kevin Barbieux, aged 42: this divorced man, father of two children, has been 
intermittently homeless for nearly twenty years. He says he "has never 
succeeded at integrating myself into society". And evokes many serious 
problems with depression and social phobia.

In the Nashville library, in Tennessee, he tells of the fights undergone in 
the shelters. And the sometimes deadly aggression of which the homeless who 
sleep in the street are victims. He denounces the policiess of the American 
public powers about the problem of the homeless, policies of his opinion 
"more punitive than useful". Self-taught, he puts in his site a list of his 
recent readings. A homeless person who reads Jung and Virginia Woolf: again, 
reality overturns stereotypes and shocks more than one.

Since autumn of 2002, articles in the American and interntational press has 
made this homeless man from Nashville a celebrity of the net. Thanks to the 
generosity of Internet users, he was able to live for several months in a 
motel. A year later, he is newly homeless. He works half-time but does not 
earn enough for housing. He tries regularly "to find a means of living like 
'normal' people, but this fails always for one reason or another".


Alms online


Kevin Barbieux greatly appreciates the support of his readers. But he says 
he is very much hurt by the negative comments he has received by e-mail, 
accusing him of "not wanting to do go out" or to live between the cracks of 
society. Because of this, he decided in mid-October to no longer answer 
"personal questions". The fact that he accepts on his site monetary 
donations (by the means of the payment system PayPal) has not silenced his 
critics. Many American blogs have taken recourse to this practice of "tip 
jars".

There exist other, less well-known online journals of the homeless. For 
example, that of Morgan W. Brown, who lives in the state of Vermont. To his 
eyes, his blog is a "means of personal expression". Mr. Brown also animates 
the Vermont Homeless Journal, collective blog of militants for the right to 
housing.

Crystal Evans, Kevin Barbieux, Morgan W. Brown: three individuals among the 
nearly 800,000 homeless living in the United States, according to official 
estimates. Three particular cases - perhaps among the least disadvantaged? - 
that do not pretend to be representative of a complex and multiformed 
reality.

"No homeless person is representative of all others," insists Leslie 
Lawrence, assistant director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the 
Homeless, an organization for helping the homeless of that state. "Each one 
has their own problems. But the important thing is that the homeless people 
can finally have a voice, so that the public can realize that these are 
people like any other."

Giving the homeless the possibility to be heard, this is what the many 
newspapers edited and sold by the homeless in about fifty American cities. 
Michael Stoops, coordinator of these publications for the National Coalition 
for the Homeless in Washington, guesses that, for those who know how to use 
them, these blogs offer similar possibilities for expression and creativity 
and sometimes let them reach a larger public. "Just because a person is 
homeless does not mean that they do not know how to write or use a 
computer," he adds. "Or that they do not have the right to express 
themselves on the Internet."

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is 
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior 
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and 
educational purposes only.**

--------------------------------------------------------

-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf: http://nht.blogspot.com

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