Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning

When the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless reaches capacity on cold nights - around 170 people - those that did not make the cut are turned away. But, due to the generosity of Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO), volunteers, and participating churches and synagogues, homeless people seeking shelter still have a place to go.

This morning, Elle and I visited the BOHO warming center at Crestview Church ( and brought pastries donated by the King Sooper grocery in Gunbarrel. Arriving at 7:00 am, we stayed until about 8:45 am to make and serve coffee and talk with those waking up in the warmth of the church's open areas.

Last night, the warming center was a temporary residence for about 40 adults. It was estimated that another 40 remained on the streets and took their risks with the cold weather.

When we finished at Crestview, we offered rides to a couple of homeless guys. One, an MD, Internal Medicine, who is battling lymphoma just needed a lift to a coffee shop to await a rendezvous with a friend and transportation to a Christmas celebration. The other needed to go to the Boulder Community Hospital Emergency Room for treatment of what appeared to be a broken wrist or hand -- injuries sustained during a slip on some ice following attendance at a Christmas Eve service. He's a mechanic and is concerned that this injury will keep him from work.

The rest of our day will be spent in thankful preparation for and enjoyment of time with family. For most of the homeless people we met this morning, the day will spent be like most others - on the street and trying to stay warm and nourished.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice - Homeless Memorial

December 21. Winter solstice. The longest night of the year. A fitting time for a memorial service to remember Boulder's homeless lost over the past year.

According to Joy Eckstein of the Carriage House Community Table, about 20 of the approximately 1,200 homeless in Boulder County will die each year. Of the 1,200 homeless, it is estimated that 250 to 300 live on the streets.

Today's service was held at the bandshell at Canyon Blvd. and Broadway Street, a common gathering place for Boulder's homeless people. Attached are a few photos from today's event.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Writers Organizational Meeting

On Friday, the project's initial writers met at Cornerstone Church of Boulder Valley ( define processes for integrating writing with the portraiture photography. We're very thankful that Tom deMers and Carol Grever have joined the team.

Tom is a writer and former HUD property manager. He writes extensively about homelessness and is a contributor to the Denver Voice.

Carol Grever ( is a recognized spokesperson for straight spouses, having interviewed on major network television and radio shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson Cooper 360, Good Morning America, The Early Show, and Iyanla, among others. She has been interviewed more than 70 times on issues related to her books and DVDs.

In providing guidance to our writers, Elle Page noted that the goal of the project is to create connection with and reinforce the humanity of the homeless. What is going on at the intersection of their lives and ours? We want to create awareness of the entire story of homelessness.

In addition to writing about the homeless individuals, interviews will include people whose lives regularly intersect those of the homeless; e.g. police, emergency workers, shelter workers, people who have overcome homelessness and others.

The writer’s job is to give voice to the subject, to help them communicate whatever message they feel the need to communicate. It may be about how they became homeless, the prejudice they encounter, their views on policies or politics, or just about any subject. We want to avoid a book that focuses only on “how I became homeless”.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Exposure via the Boulder Rotary Club

Yesterday, at the invitation of Sam Pottinger, Elle and I visited the Boulder Rotary Club. While I have frequently visited that club as a member of the Rotary Club of Niwot, Sam was interested in getting our project introduced rather informally to his club. During the introduction segment of the meeting, Sam introduced us and asked me to give a short briefing about our project. The concept was well received for an initial intro, particularly because the program speakers for that meeting were from Attention Homes, a provider of residential treatment, counseling and a safe house to at-risk youth. Attention Homes helps homeless adolescents in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Attention Homes has been operating since 1966, and just introduced its Runaway & Homeless Youth program to help the estimated 200+ teens living on the streets in our community. We had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to, and briefly speak with leadership of Attention Homes, and we look forward to a follow-up visit to assure that they are included in the book.

We also had the opportunity to be introduced to some writers that are members of the Boulder Rotary Club. While there wasn't time to fully explain our program, all committed to exploring what we're doing at a later time, with possible involvement in the project.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Second Photo Session

Joy Eckstine, Executive Director of the Carriage House, set up a second photography session for our project today. It went very well.

Anyway, Elle (wife and outstanding photographer's assistant) and I went to the man's apartment in Boulder. We were fortunate to photograph him and his seven week old baby at their front door.

In keeping with the commitment made in my last post, not all photos will be shown in this blog. We need to save them and the excitement around them for the book launch. So, this one won't appear. But, be assured that it's a captivating father / daughter image. Watch for it when the book's released.

This man has an outstanding story of overcoming challenges. He arrived in Boulder with nothing but hope. Living in camping areas near Nederland, he cooked in various restaurants. Today, he has an apartment, a family, and a job. He continues to have hope.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our First Photograph - Dan

Each new photograph from the project WILL NOT be added to this blog. However, since Dan was a big inspiration for the project, and was the first to be photographed - yesterday - I wanted to add his portrait.  This will give readers an idea of the type of photography that we'll be using.

Now, we'll have one of our volunteer writers interview Dan to get his story of resilience, recovery and redemption.

I captured Dan's portrait at the Main Branch of the Boulder Library.  As said by Ken Miller, Director of Project Revive Boulder, "Every Boulder homeless person will recognize this (photograph) as the library, which, along with Carriage House and the warming centers, is the closes thing to a home many of them have."

What Led to This

Project Revive asked me to photograph an October 2010 clean-up of Boulder Creek. Participants from local business, non-profits, city government, the faith community, and homeless people in Boulder came together to remove trash from along the creek corridor.  (See for the newspaper account.)

I chose to follow and photograph some of the homeless as they collected trash.  I learned that the Boulder Creek is a main thoroughfare for homeless travel and shelter in the Boulder community.  I learned that there are far more homeless people in our community than ever realized -- lots just blend into the background and we never notice.  Most importantly, I learned that many of the homeless are simply regular people that are dealing with some very irregular issues.  My mental model of homelessness was rocked.

I wanted to do something with my newfound knowledge; to contribute somehow.  So, I decided to create and sell a coffee table book of fine photography and good prose to tell the story of the homeless at the intersections with the mainstream community.  The books will be sold and money generated will go to those making a difference in the local homeless community.

Since that Saturday afternoon in early autumn, my decision has turned into a project involving people and groups with a passion for improving the homeless situation in Boulder.