Magazine in London Helps Homeless With Articles on Where to Get Food and Services
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE PAVEMENT MAGAZINE (LONDON)
“We are always happy to get a call from The Pavement – it’s one way of telling that something we are doing is having a real impact on the lives of homeless people. Plus we rely on The Pavement to help us get news and information about services and issues out to the people most affected.” Alison Gelder, CEO, Housing Justice.
“I have seen The Pavement a couple of times now and am really impressed with the content of it. It contains helpful information for our clients regarding what services are available in the city.” Programme Coordinator, The Salvation Army
“I think The Pavement is brilliant. To people that don’t know it, I’d describe it as like a mix of Private Eye and the Yellow Pages for homeless people. It’s certainly something that I relied on many times.
“I remember the last time I was homeless, I went to a Day Centre and said it’d been a while since I’d slept rough in the city and needed some information about soup runs. They gave me a copy of The Pavement and that sorted me out.
“I knew where I could go to get food, where I could find day centres and get the help I needed. With a copy of The Pavement in your hand, you can survive.
“Homeless people need The Pavement. It gives us a voice and we don’t have a voice. You don’t hear these stories in the mainstream media. They tell you about Katie Price’s wedding but not about the homeless guy who was stabbed in Blackfriars last night. That’s what The Pavement is for.” Christopher Ubsdell, former rough sleeper
OUR MISSION AND AIMS
The Pavement is committed to publishing independent advice as well as hard-hitting and entertaining reportage, tailored to a homeless readership within the UK via our regional magazines and UK-wide website. We aim to provide and publicise appropriate information that is objective, timely and relevant on a range of advisory and practical services available to homeless people, as well as news on the issues impacting the homeless and dispossessed from across the UK. Our ultimate goal is to help reduce short-term hardship amongst our readers and longer term to provide them with information to enable them to guide their own futures.
The Pavement exists because there was nothing like it, but it fulfils a need.
The Pavement is a small charity, founded in the spring of 2005. We distribute The Pavement in London, Scotland and the West Midlands, and we plan to launch in other regions. In London alone, we deliver 4,000+ copies of The Pavement to over 70 hostels, day centres, homeless surgeries, soup-runs and libraries. By using volunteer journalists and homelessness sector professionals, as well as work from the country’s best cartoonists (many of them Private Eye contributors), we’ve achieved a balance of news, features, humour and service listings unlike other publications.
Our journalists cover the news from the streets or news affecting the streets, and we often deal with topics ignored by the mainstream press. Alongside this, other professionals provide features on health, foot care, legal advice and life in hostels, with the back pages given over to The List, a regularly updated directory of homeless services.
As always, we welcome comment, so do get in contact.
RECENT AND ONGOING CAMPAIGNS
WORD ON THE STREET
The Pavement’s Word on the Street project aimed to empower homeless volunteers to contribute as fully as possible to the magazine. For three months, volunteers with direct experience of homelessness attended workshops, run by media professionals, to help them develop skills in reporting and photojournalism. They were given training in everything from interviewing to computer skills. The team pulled together a very special November 2014 issue of The Pavement, which featured a brand new cartoon strip (1, 2), Heartbreak Hotel, based on their experiences in hostels, as well as a host of first personal pieces. The group will continue to contribute to the magazine, drawing on a growing bank of ideas for articles, and creating podcasts for the website. A short film about the project is in development.
1 Forget Dennis the Menace and the Bash Street Kids… Beano artist’s new cartoon strip stars a homeless Scot (Sunday Herald, 2 November 2014)
2 Karin Goodwin talks about Heartbreak Hotel (STV, 14 November 2014)
THE UK COMMON RIGHTS PROJECT
The UK Common Rights Project allowed homeless people to speak about the lack of those common rights – water, sanitation, food and shelter – the rest of us take for granted. We worked with Housing Justice and Open Cinema to create a hard-hitting report and website, which were launched at the House of Commons. One of the project films won the Best Short Documentary category at the 2014 Moondance International Film Festival in the US. The project was a follow-up to 2010’s Rights Guide for Rough Sleepers, which we worked on with Housing Justice and Liberty.
Over 100 charities, big and small, are members of the high-profile campaign that aims to show the reality of the help that benefits provide, why they need it and the difference it makes. Almost a third of homeless people on Jobseekers Allowance have had their benefits sanctioned (cut off), for instance, compared to just three per cent of housed claimants, leading to destitution and desperation among some of the country’s most vulnerable people.
JUST FAIR CONSORTIUM
The Just Fair Consortium monitors the fundamental human rights to food, housing, social security, education, equality, employment and health. Members, who include Oxfam, the Trussell Trust, the Trade Union Congress and Unicef UK, endorsed a common statement of recommendations from the Going Hungry? The Human Right to Food in the UK report. In 2015, the United Nations will review the UK’s human rights record, and the consortium will be part of the reporting process.
American readers can go online to www.thePavement.org.uk to read the current and past issues for free. Be sure to check out their comic strip. Below are some photos from some of their issues.
Ice House in Pasadena to Host Memorial For Duane Thorin
Los Angeles Bard Duane Thorin Passes
He Wrote “Occupy Your Car”, the Classic Song About Homeless Folks and the Economic Meltdown
Duane Thorin had music in his heart from birth. He loved to sing, play the guitar, entertain. But the path to that musical life was paved with obstructions and suffering. It was only when he was crushed by the 2008 meltdown like millions of other folks that he somehow rose from the ashes of despair to be able to live his dream of music, storytelling and song and make his mark on the Southern California cultural scene.
I first met Duane in the 1990’s when he was a frequent visitor to my bookshop in Burbank. At the time that I met him, he was installing swimming pools in middle class areas of San Bernardino and Riverside. Those were the years of the housing boom. The government and the banksters were pushing everybody who was breathing, and some that were possibly not even existing in this dimension, to buy a house. Out in the hinterlands of San Berdoo, there was a huge housing boom. They were springing up in every desert plot and sandy hill that was available. Mortgages were rubber-stamped, and the middle class, eager to participate in the great American dream, poured into the area.
The families that bought these new digs got settled in, but then they got a taste of summer. It’s not Death Valley, but it is boiling hot out that way. The moms and pops had to hear their kids whining about it every damn day. The summer boil. No school with air conditioning. No nice grassy back yards like in the Westside of L.A. Just sand dunes. What to do? Paying the mortgage was tough enough, no way for a real swimming pool like in Beverly Hills. So how about an above-ground pool? They are just big enough and deep enough to keep the kids wet, a place to play in the yard at least part of the brutal summer days. Once the parents bought the pool, they would be given a referral to a guy like Duane who would come out to your place with a crew and actually install the thing on your sandlot.
Duane was a big sturdy guy. Although he had worked in the entertainment world part of his life, several years booking acts into the Ice House in Pasadena, he still had to make a living. I don’t remember how he ever go into that business, but he did. Part of the lure of it was work like a dog all summer and make enough to live the rest of the year. The reward during Fall and Winter was to do the things that he really loved to do, singing, music, reading. But installing pools out in San Bernardino in the middle of summer is brutal work. The area had to be leveled, the rocks, snakes and lizards moved out, and then the pool put together so that when it was filled the water would stay inside.
He always had a tough time keeping a crew, the work was hell, long days when 100 degrees was the lowest it ever got, burning your skin off. Take your salt pills and drink gallons of water ’cause you’re going to sweat until you end up looking like a prune. Duane would come into my shop and occasionally dragoon some unemployed book – lover to work for him in the pool biz. If those guys lasted a week it was a miracle. Most were skinny and pale, night owls with an aversion to sunlight. I used to joke about it with him, telling him he was killing my customers. He said he was just trying to put some money in their pocket for an honest day’s work. Usually they were done in one or two days, and after a couple weeks of recuperation they looked forward to something a little less physical, like working at a Starbucks. Anything other than the sheer brutality of that scalding sun.
At times, even Duane had to back off for a few days. The pressure from the pool companies was intense. They would sell scores of pools and they depended on Duane to put them up. He had all his equipment loaded into a trailer, which he would pull out to the customer’s property. A difficult pool installation might take more than one day, sometimes several days. He would get a cheap motel and the crew would have to crash there until the job was done. Just before the economic crash, an omen had popped up: his main guy, a really hard working Latino, was arrested and sent to prison for something. Duane was upset about that because he depended on him. It meant hiring 2 guys to replace him. The work load was intense, the phone always ringing, more jobs than he could ever handle. But it all came to a dead stop with the 2008 crash.
The big Meltdown hit everyone. The middle class was devastated. The poor class swelled with new members. Millions lost their houses, their savings, their way of life. San Bernardino looked like a big ghost town. Within a couple years, the City was sending guys out to the neighborhoods to spray paint green lawns on the abandoned properties so they would look lived in. The pools were a big problem. The happy days of children splashing in the pools became the nightmare of the City, as the thousands of abandoned pools, now with stagnant algae packed water, became a breeding ground for billions of mosquitoes. City crews spent months draining the pools that Duane had built. We joked that maybe the thieving bankers visiting their now empty houses would get a well deserved dose of malaria in the process.
Back in the bookstore, I saw Duane on almost a daily basis. We became fast friends. He was talented, intelligent, funny and literate. His business had collapsed but he lasted a couple years on his savings. I had to close the book store about the same time, and move into my van. At some point, he ran out of money totally. There was no work in L.A. The homeless population was swelling, thousands of families living in cars and vans. He lost his apartment, but I found him an RV which he got parked on a friend’s property, a lovely couple living in the mountains of Altadena. Through this crushing defeat, Duane Thorin was reborn. It wasn’t easy, he and I were often together at food banks. We hung out at coffee houses. The weird thing was that he was free. Free to change. Free to pursue his dreams.
He now had time to devote to his music. He sang at coffee houses, ran open mic nights, sharpened his skills with his guitar, hustled some music jobs, wrote songs. He was killer at it. His creativity exploded.
He also had time to do something that he wanted to do for years. His dad had been in the Korean war. He was captured by the North Koreans and thrown into a jail with other G.I.s. He managed to escape and was free for some time, trying to make it back to friendly lines, but was recaptured due to another G.I. making a stupid mistake. Duane’s dad was one of the only Americans to ever escape from the North Koreans. His recapture meant that torture and punishment would now be his life, and the North Koreans turned him over to the Red Chinese.
Duane had made a recording of his dad telling his story before his death, and wanted to get it out, so I helped him to produce a CD of the original recording. It’s an exciting story, although agonizing to re-live the captivity. Duane, was very patriotic, and wanted folks to remember what those who served for us had to go through. Listen to Duane singing the National Anthem. It will floor you.
Duane’s career soared in the last few years. He was in demand as a singing coach and manager, he arranged and ran the musical entertainment for private celebrity parties, he sang at venues around the southland and wrote songs. We were blessed at Gypsy Cool to have Duane’s music video, Occupy Your Car, and his original song about Walmart moving into a small town.
The songs are so powerful because Duane lived through it. He knew what it was to live in a car. He could write his songs from his heart, drawing on his own personal experiences. His good friend Donna Barnes-Roberts has filmed and recorded Duane for years, and we are blessed with her preservation of his music.
His sudden death last week was a shock. He seemed healthy, in good humor, and leading the life he always dreamed about, the musical life. He had created a character called Chef Duanio, an Italian Chef who sang opera. Duane had so much fun with that, and Chef Duanio was a hilarious musical show that played around town.
L.A. has lost another great voice, a bard, a troubadour.
Duane Thorin joins some other noted musicians who have passed recently. I can’t help thinking that Heaven’s gotta be rockin’ right now.
Duane Thorin’s website, click here
Chef Duanio website, click here
Waltadena an original song by Duane Thorin
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Asked Brown to Tackle Homeless Crises By Declaring a State of Emergency. Brown to L.A. “Forgetabout it.”
Donate your gently used clothing and household items to the Mission. We will use your donations to provide clothing to those in need and all proceeds from our 3 thrift stores provide food, shelter, counseling, and care to those who need it more.
Hope of the Valley….Where Everyone and Everything Gets A Second Chance!
Seniors in Los Angeles Area Have Access to Great Programs
Here’s a few great programs for seniors in the L.A. area. Similar programs may be available Statewide.
1. TRANSPORTATION Check out Metro, which operates the buses and trains, including the subway system. If you want to get around the area without driving your car or RV, you can apply online for a senior tap card. You can do this online. www.metro.net. A senior tap card will get you rides for 75 cents Peak hours, and only 35 cents Off Peak. This includes a free transfer to another bus or train within 2 hours, meaning you can scoot a long way around the city for 35 cents Off Peak. There are many other programs for seniors, special passes, etc., including some available at senior centers in cities other than Los Angeles. Santa Monica, for example, has a fantastic bus system, The Big Blue Bus.
2. HEALTH If you are on Medicare and need a supplemental plan, try SCAN. It’s free. Along with it you get a free Silver Sneaker Fitness card. This is good at thousands of gyms across the country, including exercise equipment, pool, steam/sauna (when available). You can go to many different gyms, so that means that you will have access to showers as well as fitness. One of the problems living stealth in a vehicle or living in an RV is shower and clean-up. Although there are shower programs in some cities and facilities, this is a great solution for seniors.
3. FOOD When you are living in a vehicle or RV, food becomes an issue. RVs usually have good cooking facilities, but if you are in a car or van it is a little harder. Small camp type stoves are good, but you need to be in a sheltered area to use it, away from prying eyes of residents who will call the cops if they see anyone using a cook stove on the street. Some people go to a park where there are camping or BBQ pits. The big parks in L.A. like Griffith Park have campsites where you can cook dinner.
Another way to go is to eat hot meals for free at Churches and other Food Coalition sites, like those we frequently post on this website. Please note that there are hundreds of free hot meals served in So. California every day. Check around the area you are staying in, the local city, the local churches, and look for food banks. The County, through Senior Centers, have hot lunch programs for a couple of bucks. These are decent meals, and are served around the County at designated park buildings and Senior Centers. The Senior Centers in some cities are really great, with free computers to use, free wi-fi, exercise programs, libraries, good bathrooms, etc. They have all kinds of free or cheap programs so check them out.
Even if you are living in a vehicle, a senior can have a great time in Southern California. Although many of us do not have large Social Security checks, if you don’t have to pay rent or utilities then you can have enough money to get by on using the strategies like those listed above.
Send any information you get or comments to email@example.com
Weekdays Dinner is Served at 5pm
Dinner is served here, 5941 Hollywood Blvd., Walk in the driveway and kitchen is just to the right. At this time it is served Monday through Friday only. Saturday and Sunday is still back at the corner of Sycamore and Romaine (The Line) at 5pm.
The new location for the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition is inside the Salvation Army Weingart Center. Tables and chairs, restroom to wash up. Please thank the wonderful staff and volunteers of the Coalition for all their great work.
Trek to The City on the Edge of Forever
Skip Rorshach Freedman
I rolled into Niland, California on a lightly-overcast afternoon in the middle of December. The sun is almost set, but there will easily be enough light to get to Slab City and find a suitable spot to camp tonight. The street going east out of Niland [Main Street] is little better than the washboard road that goes out to Area 51, except this is only three miles long instead of fifteen. Driving down this road you begin to get a sense of just how immense this place is. It was originally Camp Dunlap Marine Base from 1949 to 1956 (yes, they tore it down after only seven years), which explains the big concrete slabs that give the place its name. First thing you come to is Salvation Mountain on the right, some guy’s huge multicolored religious monument.
“The Last Free Place”
Moving on, there are scores of RV’s, buses, trucks and vans scattered every which way as I cruise along the dusty jarring road. Looks a lot like Burning Man, except people are more spread out here and this desert actually has some vegetation. It’s been called “The Last Free Place”, and there are good reasons for that. It’s around 50 miles southeast of Indio (itself a desolate desert metropolis) out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and almost at the south end of the Salton Sea. There’s also no electricity [unless you make your own], running water, trash pickup, or restrooms – you pack in everything you need.
Rattling along looking for an out-of-the-way spot, I end up heading off toward the back. There are a lot of packed-dirt trails heading off in various directions. Looks like most of the better-looking vehicles are back here, so this is definitely the place to be. There are quite a few solar cell arrays and wind generators at this end of town as well. I cruise down one path and see a five-foot rise about a couple hundred yards down. The van slips a bit going up, but makes it easily to the level top. There are scrub bushes on either side, with small piles of rusted cans at their base. In fact, there’s trash like that everywhere around here. Most bushes have at least some kind of refuse under them: discarded clothes, cans, plastic bags, or heaven alone knows what.
Hopping out to stretch my legs, the temperature is in the upper 60’s with low humidity. Nice and quiet, except for about four or five dogs barking in scattered directions. It’s dark in about an hour and the full moon rises in the southeast. Occasional stars peek through the low clouds and a gas generator hums somewhere off to the north. A few campfires are going, which gives a smell of creosote to the air. Some barely audible voices drift through the light breeze, presumably from the campfires. I get back in the van, pop open a can of Ravioli, and watch a movie on the DVD player. After that I drift into a dreamless desert sleep.
Just after 7:30 in the morning I wake up to the sound of faint yelling. Cracking open my passenger window, I see some dude standing on a huge raised slab with multicolored grafitti abut a hundred yards away screaming challenges to an unknown person. He’s pacing back and forth, flailing his arms wildly, while pointing out the apparent cowardice of his rival – who appears to be entirely imaginary. Probably acute amphetamine psychosis, a meth-head burnout. Guess he just went off the deep end; isolation like this doesn’t work for everyone. Using the sighting scope, he’s short, a little stocky and wearing an Army jacket – doesn’t even look to be thirty. After about a half hour, his voice starts getting a bit hoarse, so he hops on his bicycle and heads in the direction of town. His manic threats slowly fade out into the crisp morning air.
Welcome to Slab City.
I have my usual leisurely breakfast while reading several chapters of a book, then get a little writing done on my third book. At 11:00 a pair of fighter jets from the adjacent Marine Base practice bombing runs between Slab City and the Chocolate Mountains to the east. Their sound is trailing them by at least a quarter mile or so. They head north swooping low in formation, pull up in about a 70-degree climb, then loop back the other way. After six of these exercises they fly off to the south. Show’s over.
I do a little more reading, then head over to Salvation Mountain to check it out in more detail. It’s a huge monstrosity built on the face of what’s essentually a sand dune. Mostly constructed by Leonard Knight between 1984 and 2011 (he died two years ago at age 82), it’s made of large tree trunks, intertwined branches, bales of hay, salvaged metal pieces (mostly car doors), and a lot of plaster. There are multiple rooms and grottoes at the south end. Most of the entire thing is also painted with a couple hundred gallons of salvaged latex paint of various colors. The painting still continues through sporadic volunteers. If I’d planned on hanging around longer, I would have helped out with a brush; but I’m only going to do a day here.
There are a couple of signs pointing to the library, so I follow them around the back past Camp Goonies (a collective of high-tech tinkerers) and eventually run into an unassuming building a little ways back from the road. At first glance, it looked to be little more than a small shack surrounded by trees, but it’s actually rather sizable. It’s open-ended at two sides and has a motley collection of rug pieces completely covering the sand floor. The precarious bookshelves look to harbor somewhere around a thousand books, by my estimate. I was told by the resident librarian (a way-cool dude whose name I forgot to write down) that it’s the “take a book-leave a book” system. I mentioned the Gypsy Cool website and he said that he’d run into it before. I left them several copies of my books – a lot of folks here could probably use some of the techniques described in them (which were written to help the 99%, and irritate the rest). One thing’s for sure, people definitely have a lot of time to catch up on their reading here. Not much else to do.
I made it a point to traverse each dusty dirt road in Slab City (there’s eight total, more or less), going past places like the Slab City Hostel, the Live Music place (true to its name), the Sun Works (a solar-related workshop), and the Slab City Christian Club (completely deserted, guess religion isn’t big here). There was every kind of dwelling from simple tents to semi-permanent buildings erected on abandoned concrete foundations. Occasionally, non-functioning vehicles are built directly into these structures. There’s some very inventive construction here using salvaged materials, with a lot of Burning Man influence – except I didn’t see any domes. There were a good number of big fancy RV’s, most likely nomadic Snowbirds from up north.
On the whole, the handful of people I ran into here were reasonably friendly, for California. The younger longhairs were generally more abrasive, but that’s typical these days (Libtards, maybe?). I’d guess the median age this time of year is around 45 or so. Noticed a lot of retirees sitting around in chairs here and there, and saw only two kids. A person would need to be sturdy stock to survive here long-term in these primitive conditions, especially in the summer when the temperature is said to get up to 120 degrees. Definitely count me out on that.