Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Living in a Tent City

After my first trip of visiting tent cities I had originally intented on heading to the west coast to see some out there.  However, the National Coalition for the Homeless released a report Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report that has already documented these very well.

Instead I decided to concentrate more on on a specific site, so I returned to Camp Take Notice (CTN) in Ann Arbor.  I plan on staying in the tent city for a period of time in order to observe and help out the where I can.  With me I brought 30 dollars, identification, a small amount of food, and basic camping necessities.  I also brought my camera and sketchbook so I could better document my experience.

I will not use real names in order to protect the privacy of the individuals I meet.

Day 1: Moving in

I arrived in the afternoon and was dropped off on Wagner Rd. with my stuff.  Hopping the gaurd rail, I headed down the path that leads to the wooded piece of land near the highway.  The camp had not changed much since my visit a few weeks ago and there were not many people there as it was during the day.  I began to look for a space to set up my tent when I met Nick who helped me find a place. 

There weren't any cleared spots available so he brought out a rake and shovel to help me clear a small space near his spot.  I spent most of the next hour constructing my new home, which I plan to further develop over the next few days.

While I had brought my own tent, CTN will provide you one in the case that you don't.  I was told that whenver a new person arrives whoever is around and has time will help them find a spot and make sure they have their basic needs met.  I hadn't brought a pillow so Nick insisted that I take one of his extras.

After getting a little dirty setting up my site, I ventured back up the trail to the road with my bike.  I rode about three miles to the downtown public library where a MISSION meeting was being held.  MISSION is a non-profit organization that is collaboration of tent city residents and homeless advocates.  Topics such as budget, fundraising and land sponsarship were discussed.

I headed back to camp as it was getting dark and returned to my tent.  I had missed dinner so I had a few handfuls of trail mix and water. The day had worn me out so I began to fall asleep to the sounds of cars speeding by on the adjacent highway.

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