An Idea...

Remona Cowles (
Sat, 24 Apr 1999 12:05:30 -0700

Hi Everyone:

I have officially been given the go ahead to put
up a website for 'Street Roots' in Portland,
Oregon. The paper is struggling financially and I
am hoping the website will drum up subscriptions
and donations.

One idea I had was to set-up an account with one 
of the online bookstores and sell some recommended
books through the website to help bring in some
money. Has anyone tried this before?

I was thinking that I don't read enough on my own
but between us all we do. If we, as activists,
wrote and shared reviews of interesting reading
anyone with a website up could use the reviews to
do the same.

The reviews could also be used in any homeless
street papers too. It would be a nice addition to
the papers: a recommended reading or book review
section that would lead readers to good reading
about homelessness and poverty.

Any one else think this is something we could do
as a group?

(I know we are all bogged down with enough to do
but the idea is to share energy...)

Remona Cowles
Street Roots, People's Advocate, Writer, Vendor,
and just plain all 'round gopher.

> Graeme Bacque wrote:
> The Toronto Star
> Saturday, April 24, 1999
> By Jim Coyle
> Author puts faces to the poor among us
>  IN ITS TIMING, today's publication of Pat
> Capponi's latest book is really quite exquisite.
> Earlier this week, the New Yorker magazine hit
> the stands with a special issue on money -
> articles on the getting, growing and spending of
> it tucked between glossy ads for the choicest
> cars, clothes, jewelry, vacations and blue-chip
> investment firms.
> On Tuesday, a book was released in Ottawa,
> written by economic consultant Monica Townson
> and funded by Health Canada, reporting that the
> healthiest people aren't found in the richest
> countries, but in those with the smallest gap
> between rich and poor.
> Now, Capponi's book, The War at Home: An
> Intimate Portrait of Canada's Poor, goes a long
> way to completing the picture of society's two
> solitudes.
> Capponi, invariably cowboy-hatted and denimed,
> is one of this city's originals, a 49-year-old
> former psychiatric patient who survived abuse,
> depression and suicide attempts to become a
> mental-health advocate. Even now, she lives in
> one room and is most at home among the urban
> poor, despite being a member of the Order of
> Ontario and an acclaimed author who heads out
> next week on a national book tour. She's been
> more fortunate than most who live poor, in that
> her writing, the platform it has provided and
> acclaim it's earned, have won her entree into
> circles that others of like background seldom
> see.
> ``Most people living in poverty only know others
> in the same circumstance,'' she has said.
> ``People who cannot even provide temporary
> relief from the empty pockets and empty shelves.
> For most, poverty is a closed circle.''
> Deliciously, among the praise she's received
> over the years is a congratulatory letter from
> Mike Harris, then leader of the third party, for
> her 1992 book Upstairs at the Crazy House.
> It is a valued, if unlikely, keepsake given that
> her second book, Dispatches from the Poverty
> Line, published in 1997, began as a series of
> open letters written for NOW magazine denouncing
> Harris for his policies after becoming premier.
> The first book chronicled her own life and the
> existence of others in one of Toronto's rooming
> houses for psychiatric patients. The second
> depicted life on the margins, where the numbing
> banality of need exacts endless daily
> indignities and countless petty calculations
> over even how much toilet paper to use.
> Still, there is no self-pity or blame about
> Capponi. She believes in choice and consequence.
> But she brings to the notion a broader
> definition.
> ``I believe people make choices and should
> accept consequences. That includes abused kids
> who grow into abusers, poor kids who take out
> their poverty on the property of others, men who
> batter their fears into the faces of women. It
> also includes communities that create the
> circumstances that foster abandonment, neglect,
> poverty, ignorance and fear.''
> Her newest book, The War at Home, deals with all
> of that. She travelled across the country
> putting faces and stories on the statistics,
> spotlighting society's forgotten and, perhaps
> most important, showing ways in which some are
> trying to regain control over their lives.
> And she does not spare, in the telling, the
> ``bloated and often irrelevant system of social
> services that has played a large part in
> creating the universe of pain that belongs to
> the poor.''
> If nothing else, this book should be a
> much-needed antidote to the smugness, judgment
> and condescension the haves increasingly seem to
> feel for the have-nots. There is now a permanent
> underclass of desperately poor and disaffected
> in Canada who will not disappear, Capponi
> writes, ``though many of us wish they would.''
> ``They suffer and their children suffer and then
> grow into their own angry lost adulthood. Those
> whose fathers who, instead of tucking them in at
> night, got into bed with them. Those whose
> parents were lost to addiction: alcohol or
> drugs. Those whose mothers were brought up in
> abusive situations and found themselves always
> choosing men to whom violence was more common
> than conversation.''
> Two years ago, after publication of Dispatches,
> reporter Michael Woloschuk wrote in the Ottawa
> Citizen that he had been taken in as a battered
> orphan 25 years ago by a Montreal group home
> Capponi then ran. Without her, he wrote, ``I'd
> probably be dead.''
> ``I left the group home and went my own way; but
> that way that had been pointed out to me by this
> remarkable woman who, for four years, loved me
> more than anyone I had ever known.'' And if the
> landscape of her books is invariably bleak, at
> their core is always that kind of love,
> resilience and hope.
> In her last one, Pat Capponi closed with the
> terse but triumphant sentence: ``I go on.'' With
> this newest, she surely has.