Archive for June, 2011

The Oregon Vagabond July 2011, Volume 2- Issue 7

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

July’s issue is hot off the press! Where to get a newspaper this weekend? One area The Oregon Vagabond is distributed by our homeless vendors on Saturday is on the streets by the Farmers Market and Saturday Market in downtown Eugene. In the July 2011 issue of The Oregon Vagabond, we have published stories by 15 local writers, who attend our writing workshops Tuesday afternoons at Washington-Jefferson Park under the bridge. Photography by L.E. Erickson.

Welcome to our newest advertiser, Arriving by Bike – urban cycling outfitters, located at 27th and Willamette. Next time you drop by, be sure to mention you saw their ad in The Oregon Vagabond and thank them for supporting our work with the homeless community! Our Contributors Club membership is growing – thank you to those who joined this past month!

Wishing everyone a safe and fun holiday weekend and July 4th celebration!

They did not come to be served, but to serve.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

On Saturday, June 25, I attended an event held from noon to 3:00 p.m. under the Washington-Jefferson Bridge, an outreach to those experiencing homelessness in Eugene. Hosted in partnership by the University Fellowship (UFC) and Free People who serves Eugene’s homeless community, everything at this event was free: music, food, beverages, haircuts, clothing, photo sessions and crafts for kids… all provided by volunteers.

Jennifer Brown and her partner Alonzo Cole, along with their children Jorden Cole 5, Zoie Garcia 3 and their friend Celeste Lee 7 attended the event.  What brought them is best shared in Jennifer’s own words:

“What brought me to the event was my friend Starrla who is also my daughter’s (Zoie) aunt and Jeff, who is like my dad – we call him Papa.  Papa is currently homeless and during the summer he enjoys it most.  I myself have lived through the homeless times during my childhood living in cars 5th wheels and tents, in my teen years, up in the mountains off the side of the road. Having parents with drug addictions led to our homelessness.  Although I am currently unemployed and life has thus had its struggles, I am doing okay and have a mobile home to call my own.  I am very fortunate for the resources the community has to offer and am currently a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul and getting work experience.”

I took photos of Jennifer and her family as they were waiting for the volunteer photographer to do a photo session with them. I told the kids that they could practice their poses with me… “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.


Free portraits.


People lined up for the opportunity to pose for a free portrait session with friends and loved ones, like Jennifer’s family and these two buddies here:


I ran into my homeless friend Bobie and hung out with her as she had her hair cut by a volunteer. Although Bobie has had an extremely difficult year, when we talk she not only shares some of her heartbreaks and problems with me, but she shares her amazing, optimistic perspective on what her life could be like in the future, IF…. I think her new look reflects that vibrant glimmer of hope that resonates in her voice and eyes when she talks about her dreams.


Bobie before her haircut.

People lined up and patiently waited their turn for a free haircut.

The new Bobie!

I too am thankful for the resources our community has to offer those experiencing homelessness, and the messages of love in action, faith and hope in Christ shared by UFC and the mission of Free People to serve the homeless, as they say “without requirements or expectations, offering practical assistance for those in need.”

Click here for a list of other resources and social services available to the homeless community in Eugene/Springfield (Lane County, Oregon).


More photos from the event:

Gathering at Washington-Jefferson Park.

Free music. Free clothing.

Food prepared and served by volunteers.

Free medical advice.

Face-painting and crafts for kids of all ages.

by L.E. Erickson


So While You’re Traveling

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

When you get off the road and enter Eugene, you will notice a few things. One, downtown, two, all the parks, and three, the river. But mainly what you’ll hear about is the Whitaker. All of these places are all what nakes up Eugene. At times there are social settings that haven’t reached the same culture as everyone else in the US.

What occurs in this town while you’re homeless is mainly up to you. All of the mentioned spots are good and a couple bad. Don’t be drawn into downtown’s everyday drama; it has been blown up beyond all proportion. The parks are cool for short periods of time.

Now at the river, you can swim, laugh, enjoy your personal beverages and just have fun. It also can be a relaxing place to tan or meditate.

All these things can keep you sane in this town while you’re here.

The Whitaker is unexplainable, just treat “the Whit” right and it will do the same for you. And remember, friends, winter is coming, so prepare. Everyone is in this together, survive as friends and we will all make it through anything. Fight and we’ll perish. That’s exactly what the Eugene police want, what the taxpayers and all the other officials in this town push for: NO HOMELESS.

So remember while you’re here, the citizens are not just the community, the homeless are as well.

Go Ducks!!


By Thomas Templeton


Life Is Like A Tree

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Our legs are like roots planted firm to withstand wind

Arms are like branches to hold the weight of things to come

Hands are like leaves to cover and provide shade

Fruit is like life that is provided by our living

So life is like a tree, if I could be a tree


by Just Me


Living in a CAR But Reaching For the Stars

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

“Seven out of 10 Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless.” Pras Michel

I was driving east out of Eugene a couple weeks ago, when I saw this guy playing his heart out with a cardboard sign duck-taped to his guitar. I turned around and came back to talk to him. Long story about how he not only lost his job in another state, but was shorted a couple months of hard-earned pay. Between selling his vintage guitar and taking what money he could scrape together, he bought a car and drove to Oregon. He came here with his girlfriend for a 10-hour a week job with hopes of more hours or something better to come along, so they can transition from living out of their $500 car to a rental. The day before I met him, his girlfriend’s appendix burst. So, while he’s out here at this busy intersection playing for dollars, she’s in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery. If he can come  up with enough cash, they have the possibility of moving into a cheap rental that’s about 20-miles out of town. Despite their dire circumstance, this guy appears to remain cool under pressure; focused on turning their situation around, he’s looking up and not down, by “reaching for the stars”.

by L.E. Erickson

See Photo Essays, Request for Submissions

Life Bein’ A Homeless in Eugene, OR

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

When we first arrived in Eugene we was only going to stay for about a week, then we was headed back to California to settle down. It has been two months now and we are still here in Eugene.

I thought being homeless here would be like it was everywhere else “hard and uneasy.” But it’s not like I expected, it’s better. There are so many opportunities and resources for us homeless it’s incredible. Here in Eugene they have feeds downtown Monday thru Thursday at a diner that serves three sides, which is actually very good food and the people who volunteer are really nice people who take four hours out of their own day four days a week just for us homeless. That should only show that not all people think only of themselves but of others too!

On Saturday at twelve a group of people get together at Washington Jefferson to feed not only homeless but everyone. On Friday the church feeds, so unlike bein’ in California with very little ways to keep from bein’ hungry, Eugene has the best sources for homeless that keeps us striving for another day. Most everyone thinks bein’ homeless means that you’re a dirty and unhealthy bum, but that would be the largest judgment on homeless anyone could ever make. Us homeless in Eugene have almost more resources to keep our hygiene to its max. For example, homeless have the Mission who not only lets us shower but also lets you get clothing and tennis shoes almost when needed. We have the Service Station, which feeds you and also lets you shower, and on top of that, they have washers and dryers, which to me as a homeless is very thankful for the opportunity to be able to experience bein’ homeless in Eugene.

People ask why I chose to settle down in Eugene and I tell them that, because of all the resources, Eugene has inspired me to not just want to better myself but Eugene makes me feel like I have to. That if I can do it anyone can and that is what I feel I should do for myself as a homeless. I want the people who does for the homeless to be able to see me one day soon and be able to say I knew you could do it, all you need was opportunity and encouragement from others. That what I hope for myself is to achieve what I’ve been striving for 27 years of my life, freedom from being under judgment.

By Michelle Gunn

The Many Ways

Monday, June 13th, 2011

I’ve been around, over and over,
Lived many ways, loud and unheard,
I’ve climbed many mountains, fell down many mountainsides,
Walked countless miles, caught countless appreciated rides.

I’ve crossed many rivers, crossed some many times,
Made plenty of dollars, earned plenty of dimes,
I’ve met a lot of people, made many friends,
Some I miss dearly, would love to see again.

Rode the rails many times, thanks Union Pacific,
Loved every loud clank, and the loud engines, to be specific,
I’ve had many good times, most good, some bad,
I’ve never had much but I’ve cherished all that I’ve had.

Some call me a drifter, a vagabond, even a bum,
Many appreciate my way of life, the haters go and they come,
The police always keep an eye on me,
Many wave hello and just smile at me.

So I don’t ever know where I’m going or even what I’m after,
I know I’ll stop one day, that ol’ train will cease to clatter.
But until then I guess I’ll keep the miles passin’,
The next town and adventure is the way of life I’m after.

By D. W.


Monday, June 13th, 2011

I’ve been asked where I’m from. I don’t know how to answer that question. I was born in Coos Bay, Oregon, but by the time my mother died when I was nine, I’d lived in 22 states.

Eugene is now my home. This is a beautiful city with a small town feel. People take care of each other here. If I’m hungry I can get food, if thirsty there is always a water fountain nearby. The people here are willing to share “until the wheels fall off,” as a friend of mine always says. I am proud to call Eugene my home and you all my neighbors.

There is so much love in this town – if you ever need anything all you do is ask and it will happen. I’m still not sure where I’m from, but as far as home goes it’s here in Eugene.

by The Wanderer

Vagabond Vlog 2 – June 2011

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Street paper give voice, hope to homeless – KVAL News

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

KVAL News :: Jun 1, 2011 at 9:09 AM PDT. EUGENE, Ore. :: Kelly Koopmans reports:

— Every Tuesday afternoon, class is held under the Washington Jefferson Bridge in Eugene. Word by word, line by line, Eugene’s homeless put their stories on paper.

“I like to write about social issues,” said Mary Louise Wragge. “I try to express my personal experiences because many times people on the streets aren’t heard.”

On a pop-up table under writers prefect their prose with the help of David Gerber. Gerber produces The Oregon Vagabond out of his home office, and relies entirely on content written by those who call the streets of Eugene home.

Gerber said he pays his homeless writers $5 for every story.

The articles range from adventurous travel stories, to poetry, to tales describing life as a homeless person.

The Oregon Vagabond’s writers are also the vendors. Along with the $5 for every story, they make 75 cents for every copy they sell.

“For some people it just means more than anything to be captured in history and published in the papers,” said Gerber. “They feel invisible sometimes and this helps give them a voice.”

KVAL News first met Gerber last year as the Oregon Vagabond began to sell. He said now, one year later, circulation is up.

Gerber said the paper is currently experiencing the best sales they’ve ever had. He  said vendors sell between a total of 1,500 and 2,000 papers each week….”

Click here to read Koopman’s full article.