Stereotypes of Homelessness

This semester during my research and subsequent interviews learning about homelessness, I was both saddened and surprised by many of the stories that I heard and the facts that I read during my academic research. Many people in our society are quick to judge the homeless and are often not as understanding of each individual situation as they should be. I learned quickly that there are many different stereotypes that come up under the subject of homelessness, and these stereotypes became especially clear to me when I spoke with Sarah Erdo of Bethesda Project when I went to the facility to complete the Interview Assignment.

When speaking with Sarah, she said that she has experienced people who are unsympathetic to the homeless. It is widely believed that everyone has an addiction, no one wants to work, everyone is lazy, and people want to take advantage of the situation. Sarah went on to say that the fact of the matter is that loss of family and social support, as well as employment for all different reasons, can slowly lead to a person becoming homeless as well. While men who are homeless come from all different types of backgrounds, many are qualified to work. They would also much rather work than have to rely on Bethesda Project for support. Many have completed various levels of higher education, ranging from an undergraduate degree to even a Master’s degree. Simply put, lack of family support and having a difficult time recovering from an addiction, depression, or loss of employment does not mean that someone is not able to live independently, and Bethesda Project is here to help those who have a difficult time with these issues recover and get back on their feet.

Some facts about the homeless that people might not know according to the website Social Solutions include the following:

-More than 500,000 people in the United States are homeless.

-1.4 Million Veterans are at risk of homelessness.

-50% of the homeless population is over the age of 50.

-8% of the homeless population are in fact veterans.

-110,000 LGBTQ youth in the United States are homeless.

Given all of these facts, homelessness is likely to touch every single person across the country in one way or another. While some may have more personal experience with it than others, it is important to understand why it is a problem, how it impacts someones life, and what we can do to help.

Technological Innovation in Class

This semester I have had an excellent experience telling my digital story. While I have improved my writing and communication skills all across the board, I have learned how to deal with many different forms of technology as well. Some of these technologies include iMovie, Audacity, and WordPress. While all of these technologies have been used throughout the semester in many different ways, they all work together to tell a digital story, and have helped me to display all of our course objectives in one way or another.

iMovie editing software is very interactive with many different features that standout, including the ability to easily put clips together and break up clips to rearrange the order for an enjoyable story. I also had an enjoyable experience picking out all of the most important parts and putting them together to tell a successful story, rather than just post it the way it was filmed. You can also edit out the mistakes as well.

Audacity was an excellent software because I was able to take a long audio clip and simply edit it down to get the most important parts of audio for my “looking” assignment. Since Bill was so helpful and helped us to identify successful software, little research was needed as far as product quality is concerned.

Telling stories about the homeless and people in difficult living situations can be very emotional and hard to handle, and I was able to edit out parts of the audio interview where the man wanted to stop and collect his thoughts. Without this kind of technology, I would have a difficult time focusing on detailed questions and answers of each interview and not have to worry about taking detailed notes until afterward.

Ultimately, WordPress helped me to bring my entire project together in a really interactive atmosphere and was the culmination of my project. I encountered struggles in various ways during all parts of the process when putting the project together, but ultimately have learned many different skills as a result of my experience.

Field Notes Assignment Post

My recent few trips to Bethesda Project for my semester long projects were ones that I will never forget. Given the stories of the men who spend their time there, it makes me appreciate and reminds me to be thankful for all that I have in my life. This facility changes the lives of many men in many positive ways, and the atmosphere is similar to a large home where men can take part in various activities to stay busy and interact with one another. The social justice mission plays a role in the lives of all of the men who live there as well as the staff who work there, and this is clear in the stories I was told regarding how many of the men came to find a passion for religion and have taken advantage of all that the organization has to offer to make their lives better.

Transcriptions

My field notes capture several in-depth observations, including the chicken sandwiches and beans that were offered, the kitchen that all of the food is consumed in, which is also the game area. Many clothes were just sitting around the facility and the same is true with towels as well. People were playing all sorts of games including monopoly, cards, and the game of life. The walls in the facility are all different colors, primarily yellow, blue, and black. Stairs, couches and chairs, a large bookshelf full of many different kinds of books and magazines take up most of the first floor and there are many office areas right next to the cafeteria area as well. Outside of the facility, there is an area for people to hang out and socialize that is protected by a fence, a road bridge that goes directly over the facility. Many plants surround the facility as well and the outside is covered in yellow paint with a large blue door. The Bethesda Project building is connected to another small business right next door. Inside the facility, there are many different drink options for the residents to enjoy. These include chocolate milk, water, soda, vending machines. All of these are in the game table area.

Scenes

I also focused on the outside of the facility as well as the surrounding community as well. Outside the facility, there are bushes, bikes, a small sidewalk, a street, and water fountains as well. Back inside the facility, some additional observations that I noticed when I returned include a nice waiting area with security clearances, tile floors, and small offices. Most importantly, there is a variety of music being played throughout the facility for the enjoyment of the residents.

Reflections

This experience was very successful, and it was excellent practice for looking at a facility as well as a lifestyle in close detail. I can’t say that I would have done anything differently, but I do wish that I could have talked to more staff members and more residents. All of the readings and class lectures of field notes served as examples to me when carrying out these trips, and I am happy that I had such great references. I will use these notes as reflections of my experience as I move forward with the editing and final parts of the project.

Interview Reflection

I had a great experience conducting my interviews last week. Be sure to stay tuned to my Instagram @richbellsju for photos from the event. The interview was just as I had expected it would be, very in depth and informative. This was the biggest risk I have taken all semester, as I had to made sure all of the equipment and sound levels were right on point. I had to change the type of microphone that I was using at the last minute due to technical difficulties, but that was the hardest part. I enjoyed learning all about the Bethesda Project and how they make a difference in the lives of many homeless men.

I learned how to ask effective follow up questions that relate to the subject, and how to elaborate on individual points. All of the questions that I needed answers to have been answered, and I look forward to moving forward with this assignment and remaining in contact with them for any upcoming needs or questions and to present the final product to them.

The interview was successful because I spoke to both the men and the staff and covered all of the points that I needed to in the process. The audio worked well and and everything went very smoothly. I might have tried to interview one other employee, as one of them seemed a bit camera shy and gave very brief answers, but that is it. Overall, a great experience. Can’t wait to finish strong with this project!

Interview Time!!

This week will likely be the most eventful week of my semester in Digital Storytelling, as I will be conducting my interviews with the Bethesda Project and learning about what they stand for and how they work to make a difference in the lives of many poor men within the Philadelphia community. The interview will be very interesting and educational for myself and for those in the class who are fortunate to watch it. My hope is that it will be informative as well. I will be interviewing Sarah Erdo, who serves in the role of Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager for the organization as well as employee Hilary Coulter, who serves in the role of Social Services Supervisor. Both of these employees have been with the organization for many years, and I have chosen to interview them because of their experience and understanding of the programs Bethesda Project has to offer as well as their personal experience within the organization.

Oral History Interview tips will be very important for conducting these interviews. This project is important because I am not simply reading about homeless issues in the City of Philadelphia, but will be speaking with sources at the Bethesda Project and learning first hand how this problem impacts the city as well as many individuals. As we have read in What Makes Oral History Different by Alessandro Portelli, interviewing groups of individuals who specialize in a topic and have a deep passion for something is the best way to learn about something and become well-educated yourself. “Many oral history projects have collected interviews with members of social groups who use writing, and have been concerned with topics usually covered by the standard written archival material” (Portelli). In my case, the social group involves the homeless men in the Bethesda Project shelter as well as the employees who I will interview who can speak to similarities between the men and what kind of people and circumstances they serve.

In all aspects of the course so far, detail is by far the most important in telling an accurate story. This is true with an interview and with field notes, as we have studied. In the Oral History Association reading with Alex Haley, the importance of detail is emphasized. When people speak from experience, according to Haley, they can remember very deep detail, much more than just someone who has heard a story or who has been close to a situation. This is my goal, to get people who have been in homeless situations to speak out, as well as people who have dealt with them who can speak to the challenges that they have faced.

My hope is that my interview will be very interesting and informative, as I mentioned above. The Topics I hope to cover include homelessness, how the men came to be a resident and a part of the Bethesda Project community, how this community supports the men and helps them to return to normal lives, and how they got here in the first place. I will also ask the staff how they make a difference in the lives of these very special men. Stay tuned to see how it goes!

Post 3

Hair is a very unique aspect of the human body. It works to give an individual of any gender an identity and a way to stand out among their peers. It also serves a more important purpose of keeping the head of an individual cold during the winter months and protecting their head from damage within the environment in which we live. This morning while I was in Campion, I noticed that many different individuals had hair that is different from the person that is sitting either right next to or around them. One individual that stood out to me, who happened to be a male, had a very unique hairstyle. This young man had hair that was very blond, curly, and was even spiked up in the front, which helped him to stand out among those in the dining hall who also have blond hair. This hair stands out among other blond hairstyles because his hair was filled with curls. There curls were not just any curls, but they were curls that went in all different directions. The curls were in all areas of the hair, and these include the top, back, front, on the sideburns, on the spikes, and on the young mans beard as well. Not only was the hair very diverse in terms of the style and the fact that it was spiked in the front, but it was also very big in all areas of the head as well. It was not anything close to a buzz cut, but it was rather long hair that made this head stands out very well in terms of other students that he was surrounded by. This haircut was so diverse and had so many curls in it that some parts of the head on the man were not even visible. This includes the ears of the student as well as the top of the forehead. The beard on the student and his head of hair truly do look like one full set of hair, as the head of hair starts right at the top of the beard, and there seems to be no difference between them.

 

Campion is an excellent space to observe people and make detailed observations that can be used to take small field notes that have the intention of turning into large stories and observations. Upon entering the student center on what was just a normal Wednesday morning, I had no idea what I would expect. Of course, I know the culture of what this center is like because I have been a student here for four years, but I was not always an observer of the small details that help to give Campion the identity that it has. When I was making my observations, I really took the time to look at every aspect of the center. This included the floors, the smell of each room, the food in each of the dining halls, the drinks that were offered in each of the dining halls, as well as how both dining halls were set up. While the food and two dining halls is what Campion is best known for on our campus, it can also be known for the mess that it is and that is often left there. Many people do not take the time to clean up after themselves, push in their chair, or clean up their napkins. I noticed many napkins that were simply on the ground or on top of the trashcan, and not in it. Campion is also filled with many administrative offices as well, and many people do not think this of when they enter the facility, mainly because it is only known for food. Taking notes was at times difficult because there was so much small detail, but the point of jottings is to make only brief notes. Campion is at the heart of our campus, so there is a lot of detail and buildings that surround it as well. This is difficult because the other buildings and surrounding outside areas add a significant amount of detail, and it is up to us as the student to be a decent observer and take it all in. Overall, Campion is a center where significant activity goes on, but only we know some of it from an obvious perspective.

2 Scenes

Walking into the campion dining hall at Saint Joseph’s University is always an interesting experience. I returned after our class Wednesday, and I was shocked to see that there were many more people in the dining hall during dinner hours than there were during our lunch time. I had a Hamburger with one layer of Cheese, and Fries on the side. I sat with one friend for dinner inside the dining hall and several people were sitting around us. My friend had the same dinner that I had. One girl was sitting around us working on Microsoft Word, and there was significant trash on the ground next to us as well as all over the entire dining hall. Napkins were out of place, chairs were not pushed in, and there was food on the floor in some areas as well. I could hear one girl talking about her recent visit with her parents at parents weekend, but other than that all of the talk was just random talking from all different parts of the hall. Overall, this was an interesting experience, to say the least!

Over the weekend, I was at a SJU Men’s Soccer Game vs. George Mason University on Sweeney Field. Despite it being fall break, many students were in attendance at this event. The game was aggressive, and athletes from both teams were working hard to finish with a victory. SJU had red uniforms and George Mason had green uniforms. There were children of all ages and parents of all ages at this event as well. This game took place at night. People in the stands had all sorts of different clothing on, mostly shorts, T-Shirts, and SJU spirit wear. This was an excellent experience as well.

Jottings!

The Campion Student center is a building on campus that is filled with a significant amount of social interaction, food, a hard work at both the student and administrative levels. The environment when you first walk in is very clean and neat for the most part, but that does not come without a downside. Many of the hallways are filled with dirty footprints and a small amount of food here and there that has fallen off of someones plate during travel around campion. The environment smells like food of all different meals when you first walk in, and as you get closer to the dining hall area the smell becomes much more clear. There is a significant amount of talking that takes places both in a loud and quiet manner, and many of the students are talking about news, sports, food, and even complaining about different things that they did not like.

The lines for the food are very long, and there are people from all different grade levels who have come here to eat. It is hard to move around in the dining hall area at times because there are so many different people there. This is especially the case as you get closer to where the food is, and the back of the dining hall is not as packed with people. The building is filled with soda machines, snack stands, vending machines, and many different methods to get food. Many carts that are used by custodial staff are also present all throughout the building as well. There are many couches and chairs, many of which are out of place, and many bushes and trees surround the building. There is even a fireplace in campion for decoration, although not many people sit near it. There are napkins as well as salt and pepper on each table, and the napkin containers are even decorated with nice advertisements! Trash cans are also present, and students have the options to recycle or throw out their trash in the regular trash bin.

Campion is well-known for its wide variety of drinks as well. There are many different options for the students to pursue. Some of these options include coke, coca-cola, pepsi, powerade, gatorade, milk, chocolate milk, and regular water. The menu is also diverse, as we see burgers, fries, and pizza offered on a regular basis, along with subway sandwiches and hawk raps offered regularly as well. There are also apples and bananas as well as chips to make for a well rounded meal. Overall, campion is very diverse and has many different options for students, which makes it a great environment for campus. 

Photography Assignment Part 1!

Chapter #1

I am thrilled to announce that I have begun a photography assignment for our course that I will be working on throughout the semester. This will consist of completing several assignments from our required text and learning and growing more in the area of photography. The first assignment in the first chapter of our book aims to help us recognize what types of photos we like and how we come to like photos for the color, brightness, and subject that is highlighted within them. Photography is very important to me, and it is a way to highlight special moments in time as well as objects that deserve recognition across a town or a country. The first assignment that we are to complete involves looking at photographs that are special and appealing to us, as outlined in the first chapter of the book.

Several photos that I have seen during my lifetime that stand out to me include several well-known United States landmarks. Many of these involve landmarks that are well known across the country and are located on the east coast, as this is the area where I was raised and have many family members. Three of the images that are special to me include the Statue of Liberty in the New York City area, the Ben Franklin Bridge in the Philadelphia area, and the White House in Washington, DC. All of these photos are appealing to me not only because they have historical significance within our society, but because they all have excellent composition that highlights the subject well also.

All of these photos have very light colors that evoke positive emotion when I view them, and all of the lighting helps to positively highlight the subject and put the subject into focus. All of the images use primarily colors that I use regularly when taking photos and creating works of art, and these help to have a well rounded photo and message. The colors are varied in each photo as well, and we see many different shades of different colors in many of them. While color and have good balance in photos is very important to me, I focus most on the subject in the photo and how it is interpreted in society and what it is highlighting. Historical photography is ultimately about documenting facts for future generations, and this is why it is important to have many different subjects.

Chapter #2

The assignment in chapter 2 gave me the opportunity to reflect further on the photos from our first assignment in chapter 1 that stood out to be because of the balance of color and the subjects within them. The thoughts expressed in these photographs are very important, as they are all historical landmarks that highlight history within the United States. Color plays a significant role in all of them, as color evokes emotion, and in the case of these photos, positive emotion. A wider or tighter lens might make the photo look worse, as a wide range of detail would not be captured. I like these photos because not only do they have excellent subjects, but they also have excellent background as well. The different parts of the photo (background and subject) complement each other very well and the lines seem to be evenly distributed horizontally. The frame is very well put together also, as there is little distraction and the subject remains the clear focus in all of the photos. The lighting and depth are excellent and provide very little distraction, and there are just enough elements to tell a well-rounded story.

Chapter #3

So far all of the questions that have been posed to me in our manual have been very helpful in helping me to understand how to critically look at photography and identify successful composition and framing. Some of the questions might be a little bit too specific, which can be bad because it takes away from individual interpretation, but overall the tips that are given are helpful. By reading the first few chapters in this manual, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what I think makes a successful photo. Ideas such as framing, color, and subject alignment help create a good balance in each photograph and help photos to establish an individual identity. Overall, the questions posed to us help the reader to be a critical thinker when looking at photographs, and this is very important to me and anyone else who is lucky enough to come across this manual.

Exciting Update!

This week I got in touch with my site, and am in the process of making arrangements for the semester. Stay tuned for updates! Also all of you are welcome to follow me on Twitter @richardbellsju and on Instagram at @richbellsju for updates! Excited to take so many great photos.