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M a y 2 0 0 9 • I s s u e 1 5 4 • C i n c i n n a t i ’s A l t e r n a t i v e N e w s S o u r c e
Legal Backfire Making sex offenders homeless doesn’t protect anyone By Gregory Flannery Editor
A Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy stands guard outside the Pogue Rehabilition Center along with a VOA administrator while a protest occurs on the street. Meanwhile, inside the Pogue Center, staff (pictured in the doorway) and clients enjoy a pizza party and movie night. Photo by Aimie Willhoite.
Earl Smith reports to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office every day to provide his address, which is really no address. He’s one of about 50 homeless sex offenders living downtown. Earl Smith isn’t his real name; he doesn’t want publicity. His photo is already on the sex offenders’ list on the sheriff’s web site, and that’s a problem for him. He can’t get a job, and that’s a problem for everyone else. “I have two options,” he says. “I can either kill myself or I can commit another crime so I can get locked up. At least I’d have meals and some shelter. This winter was so bad I seriously thought about it.” Smith doesn’t want pity. Most people wouldn’t give pity if they heard his story. What
he wants and isn’t able to find the Drop Inn Center banned is a way to earn a living and Smith; it’s too close to the a place to live. Even the place new School for the Creative of last resort for homeless and Performing Arts. people, the Residency “I can either kill Drop Inn restrictions and myself or I can Center, public registries won’t let aim to protect commit another him in. children from crime so I can get “I can’t locked up. At least being sexually go in there abused. But a I’d have meals and growing body and get some shelter. This a meal,” of research inSmith says. dicates that winter was so bad “I can’t get the laws don’t I seriously thought medical. I about it.” - Earl Smith achieve their can’t use goals and are the bathpotentially makroom. I’m not allowed in the ing the public less safe. building.” The reason isn’t hard to understand: Desperate people do desperate things. ‘Gone too far’ Smith was locked up on Former sex offenders aren’t a registration violation last allowed to live wherever they fall. His truck and camper want. Homes near schools, were impounded. The judge day care centers, public pools dismissed the charge he was and parks are off limits under arrested on. But he’d been state and city laws. That’s why
The X Mayors to the Rescue
See Backfire, p. 5
Battling the forces of reaction to save Cincinnati’s image By David Heitfield Contributing Writer First came the X-Men, a Stan Lee Marvel comic in which Professor Xavier gave mutants super powers to prove that they can be heroes, too. Then came Robert Smigel's X Presidents, a Saturday Night Live cartoon about former presidents turned super crime fighters, with such classic one-liners as “I have lusted in my heart – to kick your ass!” (Jimmy Carter) and “Just say 'No' – to pissing me off!” (Ronald Reagan). So on Tax Day, through some miracle of metaphysical irony, Xavier University – presumably no relation to Professor Xavier, but one can never be sure – brought together the X Mayors, eight former mayors of Cincinnati, including Jerry Springer, who has dedicated his life to prov-
ing that mutants can be heroes, too. Despite the local media's usual half-assed attempts to create audiencearousing controversy – the Enquirer covered the event as essentially a fight between Springer and Roxanne Qualls over the “image” of Cincinnati, while Channel 5 began several post-commercial segments Jerry Springer weighs in on Cincinnati’s image. with pre-taped Photo courtesy of Xavier University. horseshit from the don't know who to hold acracially androgyWhose side are you on? countable.” He also said in a nous Ken Blackwell, includlater segment, which seemed ing a dire warning that acceptDwight Tillery set the stage, directed intentionally at the ing federal stimulus money as it were, by first throwing largely older, white audience could turn us all into drug addicts – the X Mayors had a out the D-word – diversity in attendance, that African few interesting things to say – while alluding to a certain Americans are afraid to come sense of powerlessness among downtown. about the region’s issues. denizens, because “people Qualls summed it up nice-
ly: “Diversity is a defining element of being a 21st-century city,” insisting that it was a choice Cincinnati would have to make between staying a 19th-century city or attracting youth and jobs. Springer added that the mixed message didn't work. We can't say, “Come to Ohio, come to the region, come to Cincinnati” one day, and the next day add, “ but not if you're gay.” Showing off her political skills, Qualls was emphatic that such messages came from those folks who are “forces of reaction” and not conservatism. She was probably thinking about a sign on Fountain Square earlier in the day that defined a “liberal” as “a person so open-minded their (sic) brain fell out,” which was right next to “Impeach Obama
See Mayors, p. 5
2 News Briefs Don’t Be a Pig: Resist Swine Flu Cincinnati – Please wash your hands early and often. It’s a simple but important way to avoid catching and spreading swine flu, as well as other contagious illnesses, according to Cincinnati Health Commissioner Dr. Noble Maseru. The symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. In the past, severe illness and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection. If you experience symptoms, see your physician and limit contact with others. Other suggestions from the Health Department include avoiing touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs spread that way. Call the Health Department hotline at 513-357-7499 or visit www.cincinnati-oh.gov for more information.
Lawsuit Over ‘Homeless Dumping’ Settled Los Angeles – College Hospitals will give more than $1 million to organizations that help homeless people to settle a lawsuit alleging the hospital firm dumped mentally ill homeless patients on Skid Row. The city sued after investigating claims by workers at rescue mission, who said a hospital van dropped off a mentally ill patient at its doorstep last year. The city’s investigation allegedly turned up 150 similar cases of dumping by two hospitals in Orange County. The settlement doesn’t include any admission of wrongdoing by College Hospitals.
Street Paper Survives Chicago – When Streetwise, a street paper sold by homeless people, seemed about to go out of business, donations kept it alive. The paper appealed for $75,000 dollars to stay in business; a total of $190,000 came in. Individual donations ranged from $3 to $35,000. More than 200 vendors sell Streetwise.
Streetwise By Gregory Flannery
Selling Out – in the Best Possible Way Streetvibes vendors did it again, and so did our readers. All 6,000 copies of the April edition are gone, completely sold out. This came after vendors sold 4,000 copies of the March edition. This kind of support from readers is why the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless plans to start publishing Streetvibes twice a month beginning July 1. Plans call for new editions to be released on the first and 15th days of each month. With newspapers across the country going out of business, laying off employees and cutting their print runs, the success of Streetvibes can only be attributed to two things – the hard work of our vendors, who earn 75 cents for each copy they sell; and the generous support of our readers.
Minimum Wage Won’t Pay the Rent The heads of many homeless families have jobs, belying one of the persistent myths about homelessness in the United States. But simply having a job isn’t always enough to pay for housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLICH) has released its annual report, “Out of Reach,” documenting the growing disparity between minimum-wage jobs and the actual cost of housing. The organization uses the generally accepted affordability standard of paying no more than 30 percent of income for housing to determine a metropolitan area’s fair-market rent. In the metro area from Cincinnati to Middletown, NLICH found the current fair-market rent to be $733 for a two-bedroom apartment. In order to pay that amount of rent and utilities, a worker must earn $2,443 monthly or $29,320 annually – or $14.10 per hour, 40 hours a week, 52 week a year. That is almost double the $7.30 minimum hourly wage in Ohio. Sure, it can theoretically be done. “In order to afford the (fair market rent) for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 77 hours per week, 52 weeks per year,” the report says. “Or a household must include 1.9 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round.” For families headed by single parents, unemployed people or people who can only get parttime jobs, the possibilities are very bleak.
Police Show They Care – About Each Other We now know with some degree of certainty what it takes for a command officer with a history of discourtesy to the public to be disciplined by Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher Jr. What it takes is for the officer to be discourteous to other command officers. Consider the disturbing career of Assistant Police Richard Janke. In 2004 the police department was under a federal court order to change its policies and procedures, especially with regard to use of force. The court order was part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit over racial profiling by the police and public outrage that led to the 2001 uprising in Over-the-Rhine (called a “race riot” by many white people). An independent monitoring team assigned to report on the police department’s compliance went to police headquarters for a scheduled visit. They ran into Janke’s obstreperous attitude. The monitors asked about the implementation of community problem-oriented policing. “Janke responded that the question was so general he could not even respond," the monitors’ report said. “He also stated that the question was the stupidest question he had ever heard." Janke then declared that the monitors knew nothing about police work and said the meetings were a waste of time, according to the report. That incident, which ticked off the judge, came three years after Janke warned a Streetvibes writer that police would “whack” protesters in Mount Adams. An account published in CityBeat quoted Janke telling David Mitchell of Streetvibes, "We're just here to ensure that all you lawabiding citizens don't do anything illegal, because if you were to do something illegal, then we just want to be clear that we are prepared to whack you and take you out if necessary." Police arrested nine protesters, and a jury cleared all of them. Which brings us to the incident that seems finally to have gotten Janke in trouble with his boss. Earlier this month Streicher told Janke that he was facing charges of insubordination for being disrespectful to other assistant chiefs. Now we know what matters to Streicher: not how the public is treated by cops, but how cops treat each other.
Work to End Homelessness The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is accepting applications for a full-time community education assistant. The position, available through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, includes a bi-weekly stipend, health coverage and money for education at the completion of service. Responsibilities include scheduling and coordinating speaking engagements for the coalition’s Voice of the Homeless Speakers Bureau; building community relationships with private and public schools, religious youth groups, etc.; distributing promotional materials about the speakers bureau in order to build community support; giving educational presentations to area schools and organizations; and other rewarding tasks in service of a good cause. Qualifications include knowledge of homelessness, an associate degree or higher and public speaking abilities. VISTA rules require applicants to be U.S. citizens free of felony convictions. A full description of the position is available at https://sites.google.com/site/homelesscoalitionvista/. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Jeni Jenkins, education coordinator, at jenijenkins@cincihomeless. org, by fax to 513-421-7813 or by U.S. Mail to 117 E. 12th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. But don’t dawdle. The deadline for applications is May 8.
STREETVIBES May 2009 Streetvibes is a newspaper that provides relevant discussions of homelessness, poverty and other related social justice issues. It is published monthly by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Address: 117 East 12th Street Cincinnati, OH 45202 Phone: 513.421.7803 x 12 Fax: 513.421.7813 Email: streetvibes2@ yahoo.com Website: www. cincihomeless.org Blog: streetvibes. wordpress.com Streetvibes Staff Editor Gregory Flannery Art Director Lynne Ausman Contributing Writers Stephanie Dunlap, Margo Pierce, Lew Moores, Paul Kopp, Alecia Lott, David Heitfield, Dave Scharfenberger, Angela Pancella, Mike Henson, Andrew Anderson, Ariana Shahandeh, Jeremy Flannery, Maika Arnold Photography/Artwork Andrew Anderson, Paul Kopp, Anthony Williams, Aimie Willhoite, Stephanie Dunlap, Berta Lambert Advisory Committee Joe Wessels, Steve Novotni, Andrew Freeze, Georgine Getty, Michael Henson, Stephanie Dunlap, Steve Gibbs The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Programs include Streetvibes, “Voice of the Homeless” Speaker’s Bureau, Cincinnati Urban Experience (CUE), Homeless Curriculum, and Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project. All donations support these programs and are taxdeductible to the full extent of the law.
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STREETVIBES May 2009
‘Standing Up Again’
Many people work hard to make a difference for the less privileged in the Queen City. “Eight Minutes” is an opportunity to learn who those people are and what motivates them to be a positive influence.
By Margo Pierce Contributing Writer Prostitution is desperation. Prostitution is survival. Prostitution isn’t a lifestyle choice or a question of morality. That’s why women who have been in Carol Thornton’s shoes will talk to her before they’ll talk to a preacher, social worker or a woman just in from the suburbs who wants to help and then go back home. “What I think is unique and special about Off the Streets … is the peer facilitators,” Thornton says. “The value of having someone who has walked a mile in your shoes, especially a mile in what is Carol Thornton talks with a client. Photos by Aimie Willhoite. usually considered shameful and you might think there’s and prostitution are all tied end up using the commodity something morally wrong up together. That’s why Cin- that you have, the thing you with you … (is) you see that cinnati Union Bethel (ci- carry with you all the time, things can change.” nunionbethel.org) partnered and that’s your body. So once Off the Streets helps womwith more than 20 agencies in you use and your self-esteem en get out of 2004 to de- is gone anyway, prostitution the sex trade, “I had been a survivor velop a com- or selling your body is just anget healthy of domestic violence. p r e h e n s i v e other step of the degradation and become intervention that you already feel you’re in a positive I had been through a to address from the drug use. part of their whole lot of things in the issues of “For me and for all these community. my life that lowered prostitution. ladies, especially those at the Thornton, an my opinion of myself. As Thornton end of the road, it’s survival. outreach and The addiction came walks the There were a lot of times I intake coorstreets now, prostituted just so that I could dinator for from that, just trying she does so get me something to eat. A lot to be accepted in the program, to let ladies of times I prostituted just to uses her 13 something, not really know that survive.” years on the understanding how an option is Life on the streets usually streets of traumatic it was going a v a i l a b l e . means homelessness. Cincinnati to But leaving “Every time I speak to a to end up being.” help others the life isn’t lady, she’s not asking anything Carol Thornton change their easy. until she’s comfortable with lives. “ W e ’ v e me,” Thornton says. “All she “This is something that I had some ladies come who wants to know is, ‘Will I have was meant to do because I love weren’t specifically ready to a place to stay? Will I be safe it,” she says. “I love dealing stop using the drugs, so that there?’ When I was out there with the ladies. I will tell them plays a big part,” she says. “If on the streets, the one thing anything they want to know she’s not ready to stop using I wanted more than anything about my life if it will make the drugs, then we can’t deal was to just have some place to them feel comfortable enough with the prostitution part. We stay.” to get their life back together. have had ladies say, ‘To hell Trying to find some kind If she’s never been clean bewith this. I’m outta here.’ But of security and a human confore, I become the reference it was mainly because she was nection leaves many women point. I keep a little bit of that fighting her addiction.” vulnerable to exploitation by rugged side to me so I stay apOutsiders judging prosti- pimps. proachable so they don’t think tutes from an uninformed per“When it starts off, you’re a I’m just too high up for them spective dismiss and degrade woman out there on the streets to tell me anything. these women’s life experienc- by yourself and you hook up “I had been a survivor of es. Most people don’t know with this guy who you think domestic violence. I had been how a hooker’s life begins, is going to protect you and through a whole lot of things but Thornton does. maybe look out for you, and in my life that lowered my “What happens is you start they end up standing around opinion of myself. The addicusing; and before you know it, watching you sell your body,” tion came from that, just trying you’ve lost your family, lost Thornton says. “If you know to be accepted in something, your home, lost your kids, lost anything about domestic vionot really understanding how all your foundation, and you lence, 30 to 40 percent of the traumatic it was going to end end up on the street, home- time they’re making you feel up being.” less,” she says. “So you have all right. The other 60 to 70 Addiction, mental health to do what you have to do. You percent of the time they’re
abusing you or making you feel bad – but you bond with this person. “It’s hard to walk away from them because of the intimidation; and they have become, sometimes, your defender. Especially if they think they’re gonna lose their crack or whatever, if something happens to you, they become your defender and that’s all you want is somebody to defend you.” Off the street “14 years in November,” Thornton wants people to understand that pros-
titution isn’t about morality. The program offers women who have nothing emergency needs, trauma recovery, health care, education, family services and a host of other services free of charge. While there’s no time limit for women to access and utilize services, many stay for about a year. And the success rate proves the program works. Within 60 days of getting into the program, 86 percent received substance abuse services, 60 percent were connected to mental health services, 86 percent reported no involvement in prostitution and 82 percent didn’t have a new conviction for prostitution. “We have so many intelligent, artistic women,” Thornton says. “What happens is … something is going on in their lives that have made them feel like they’re not worth anything. What we do at Off the Streets is we help give you that feeling back – that you are worth something. You’re worth all the dreams you had before this came about. And it’s a very good thing to have someplace like this so the ladies can learn how to stand back up again.” If you know someone who needs help, call 513-3782534.
Thornton has been off the streets for 14 years.
Community News 4 Retreat to Silence
STREETVIBES May 2009
God’s humor, monks’ wisdom and a sweet magic By Stephanie Dunlap Contributing Writer
He explained that the monks aren’t sequestered in here to pray for us heathens outside the monastery walls, who muck up their Godly world. “The monk knows that he is in need of salvation and redemption,” Raphael said. “We’re not praying for sinners. A monk is on their level, maybe sometimes a little lower.” Hospitality is among of the rules St. Benedict drew for monasteries, and one wing of the abbey accommodates retreats 50 weeks of the year. Monday through Friday reservations are easier to get; Friday through Monday retreats must be booked further in advance. Being here feels like living in true community, without the illusion of intimacy that information can bring. We may meet eyes, smile and nod, but that is all we know of each Brother Rene of Abbey of Gethsemani. other. All we need to know, Photo by Stephanie Dunlap. except that we’re here, so we up the pace a bit. Peace and can draw from that whatever being there says enough. The abbey's most famous prayers.” assumptions or commonalimonk, the late Thomas MerWhen they’re not singing, ties we like, if we need to ton, or Father Louis, struggled monks are to maintain siA simple room with a desk, with God. His eloquent conlence at meals; silence worksingle bed and private bathroom with shower, three un- templations and his early life ing side-by-side making their remarkable meals a day with as a reprobate make his writ- mail-order cheese, bourbon fruitcake and bourbon fudge; fruit and coffee or tea for the ings enduringly appealing. “My Lord silence in all those in-between taking in beGod, I have times that most other humans “My Lord God, I tween – all no idea where fill with conversation. have no idea where for the price I am going. I It’s impossible, and not of whatever I am going. I do not do not see the really the point, to entirely donation you see the road ahead road ahead of quash the impulse to speak. I care to slip of me…I will trust me…I will noted how the urge to relate through the slot on the you always though I trust you al- kept bubbling up. People can’t help but talk. I night guest- may seem to be lost ways though I may seem come on a silent retreat and I and in the shadow master ’s to be lost and can’t get people to stop talking door. of death,” Father in the shadow to me. Every time Thomas Merton of death,” Sometimes recorded mesI settle into in Thoughts on Merton wrote sages are piped in at mealmy room in Thoughts times. Retreatants usually get Solitude. I think, ‘I on Solitude, spiritual talks but the monks should turn reprinted on hear all kinds; when I vison some music – oh, wait.’ Retreatants do nothing in a card available at the retreat ited, Brother Raphael said the monks were working through particular. They may roam the house’s reception desk. Merton drew connections an audio biography of Abragrounds, visit the statues in the woods, peruse the library, con- between contemplative Ca- ham Lincoln. He said a monk sult with a chaplain, smoke on tholicism and Eastern reli- may consult another monk the screened-in porch (it’s still gions. He was a prolific writer on some area of expertise. If Kentucky, after all) until his sudden death in 1968; a monk really needs to talk, or just sleep. I spent his writings weigh down near- there’s the abbot. When Raphael arrived here the first day of both ly an entire bookcase in the retreat house library. as a postulant in 1954, comvisits sleeping. I asked Raphael if he was munication was much more “Sometimes peoput out by Merton’s high pro- restricted, so the monks deple come here to do file. veloped a sign language. In that, sleep,” Rene “It doesn’t bother me at more recent years the silence said. all,” he said. “We just see him seemed to have relaxed, he Guests may atas Father Louis. I just kind of said. tend services and “We try to keep it down Mass, but they don’t figure it was his way of doing his thing.” but every now and then conhave to. Luckily, versations begin,” he said. they don't screen reMonks dot org “I think it’s good. It tends to treatants for Catholknit the whole thing as a comicism or faith of any A sign in the elevator says, munity, communication does. kind. We're to stay “Retreatants, when singing Before, monks were individsilent, so what we’d profess is moot. Our along with the monks, a bit Gravesite of Father Thomas Merton. Photo by Stephanie Dunlap. See Silence, p. 6 lower on the volume, and pick
mani engenders, and reentry can be brutal. That’s why I didn’t write this story earlier. Brother Rene raised his cane Maybe some things, lost, seem and waggled it at my head. better unremembered. “What would Jesus say if I I also didn’t want Gethsehit you with this?" he asked. mani to be just another series The old monk didn't remem- of interviews, observations ber me from and explanatwo years ago. tions. But I Being here feels I remembered couldn’t quite like living in him, though, put words to true community, and I rememwhat it meant bered his rid- without the illusion to me. of intimacy that dle. This is the “ ‘Ouch,'" closest I know information can I said. "Jesus bring. We may meet how to come. would say, The passages eyes, smile and nod, in italics are 'Ouch.' " but that is all we "I must have from my 2007 know of each other. asked you bejournals. fore!" Rene said. "And I still believe it.” ‘Open-air insane asylum’ Otherworldly Rene could deal in such certainties, but Gethsemani is a place for Benedictine monks of the those who live in questions. Trappist order traveled from Even Jesus questioned God’s France and settled outside plan in the biblical retreat to Bardstown, Ky., in 1848. Gethsemani, from which the They’ve been praying the abbey draws its name. Psalms together seven times “I am deeply grieved, even a day ever since, though their to death,” Jesus said at Geth- ranks have dwindled from semani, according to the Gos- hundreds to 60-some. When they’re not in chapel pel of Matthew. The Abbey of Gethsemani, singing, starting with Vigils a three-hour drive from Cin- at 3:15 a.m. and ending with cinnati, is a place to question Compline at 7:30 p.m., the and then to stay silent, waiting monks move through their for answers in the in-between. days silently. "Silence is spoken here," In the stillness grows an idea that the in-between might urge signs in the dining room, in the elevator, in the library. be the answer. “God Alone” is etched into Retreatants may speak in desthe stone above the gated en- ignated areas; monks may trance to the monk's gardens. speak to the abbot. The garrulous Brother RaHow do you write about a silent retreat at a silent mon- phael, the monk designated to work with media, explained astery? I first came to Gethsemani all this to me two years ago. two years ago on assignment I figured Raphael must have as a reporter and stayed five saved up all his unspoken days in the retreat house. I ex- words, because he had plenty perienced the place much as a of them for me. “I’m sure there’s people reporter would, ferreting the story. Two years later I came who drive by here and say, ‘That’s the local open-air inback for myself. Both times I arrived deplet- sane asylum,” Raphael told ed and left rested and raw. The me. “We’re just a bunch of world is not fashioned for the ex-Marines and guys who are kind of openness that Gethse- looking for God.”
STREETVIBES May 2009
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locked up so long that he ter told Smith he had to leave; couldn’t afford the impound- he’d been accepted by mising and towing fees. take. “They messed up, and I Smith’s parole officer once lost everything,” Smith says. enlisted Smith’s help, he says, “I have no truck, no camper, looking for leads on housing no anything.’ I’ve tried to get for other former sex offenda job. I’ve tried to put every- ers. thing on the table. I was hon“He told me, ‘If you find est and laid everything out. It anything, let me know.’ He’s didn’t work. Now I manipu- asking me for help,” Smith late the system. I don’t break says. any laws but if I can bend the rules, I do, because I have to More than postcards eat. It’s ugly. They’ve gone too far with this.” Legally classified a sex ofProfessor Jill Levenson of fender, Smith wasn’t convictLynn University in Florida ed of having sex with anyone. agrees. In an affidavit in a He was prosecuted for allowlawsuit over sex-offender ing his girlfriend to have sex laws, she testified that re- with his 16-year-old son. Consearch shows the laws can be victed in Butler County on a counterproductive. charge of aiding and abetting “Ironically, social stability sexual battery, he received a and support increase the likeli- year in prison. hood of suc“He was “Ironically, social cessful re16, she integration was 35,” stability and support for criminal increase the likelihood he says. “I offenders, didn’t care, of successful and pubhonestly. It reintegration for was no big lic policies criminal offenders, deal. That that create was my obstacles to and public policies opinion.” community that create obstacles It bere-entry may to community re-entry came a big compromise public safe- may compromise public deal when girlty,” she said. safety.” - Jill Levenson his friend cut a Smith has tried to find support, but it’s deal. She ended up convicted proven as elusive as housing of a misdemeanor count of and employment. Homeless child endangering, while he since Jan. 26, he says he was got the felony rap. Smith isn’t coy about his accepted at the City Gospel past. Mission two months later. “I wasn’t an innocent per“I was quite shocked,” he says. “I tried that in 2003 or son,” he says. “I was in the dope game. My attitude was, 2004 and I wasn’t allowed.” But the break was short- ‘I don’t give a fuck.’ I used to lived. After 10 days, the shel- skate through the system.”
During a protest at the VOA’s Pogue Rehabilitation Center, a Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy and a VOA administrator ask protesters to remain across the street. Photo by Aimie Willhoite.
Now, he says, the system is making it impossible for him to live lawfully. “I’ve never molested a kid in my life,” he says. Even so, he is legally classified a sex offender, restricted from housing, unwanted by employers, even banned by charities. What motivation is there to obey the law? “I need a biscuit,” he says. “If you want me to jump through the hoops, there has to be a biscuit in the end.” Policy makers are beginning to see his point. Last year the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission issued a special report on the status of former sex offenders. The report called for a comprehensive approach to provide better services as a way to improve public safety. “Housing options are very
limited for sex offenders, and their choices are usually lowincome areas that already have high crime rates. Housing providers and law enforcement should work together to explore options to keep the community safe and the offender in a stable residence. … It is important to recognize that a stable environment is a critical element in the vast majority of cases to prevent re-offending.” The report’s 15 recommendations include a better kind of community notification. Instead of simply sending postcards saying a sex offender has moved into the neighborhood, the report points to a program in Seattle. In that city, 90-minute public meetings with police officers, victims’ advocates and others prepare neighbors.
The X Mayors to the Rescue Now!” Forces of reaction, just because we tend to be too darn nice and maybe, but polite and say I'm pretty “Diversity is a too sure they defining element of “please” always vote being a 21st-century much around a straight here – libercity” - councilwoman als and proRepublican and former mayor gressives ticket. Roxanne Qualls don't speak up So if the enough. problem is While it is an lack of diversity and you can't blame interesting proposition – conthe conservatives, and while servatives around here are asthe “forces of reaction” prob- sholes (or, ahem, “forces of reably don't help the city's im- action”) and the progressives age, blaming them is sorta are too nice to deal with them like blaming the football team – the theory discounts what for the academic deficiencies pretty much everyone with a of University of Cincinnati, college education around here whom, as Tillery asked, do knows: This is a one-party reyou hold accountable? gion, and if you want to play Liberals and progressives, ball, you know which side you of course. No, Bill Cun- need to be on. ningham didn't interrupt the During law school, I spent a forum. That was Qualls sug- few days at one of the largest gesting that – and maybe it's law firms in Cincinnati, just to
get a feel for life in a law firm. At a lunch with three attorneys, they told me a big secret after swearing me to silence (I was going back to school the next day, so not much fear of tattling): They were Democrats! They thought they were the only three out of 150 lawyers; and they were certain that if anyone found out, they'd lose their jobs. It was like they were part of a secret underground movement. That was more than 15 years ago, but I don't think things have changed all that much. I recently told a lawyer friend about an invitation I'd received to attend a liberal PAC meeting. “If you want to work around here,” he sincerely told me, “you'd better stay away from that.”
“These 90-minute meetings provide the opportunity to educate the community about sex offenders, to separate myth from fact, to emphasize how the community has a vested interest in the offender doing well,” the county’s report says. More than 1,600 former sex offenders live in the county. We know that because of increased awareness about sexual abuse and the harm that it does. But the push to do something about it appears to have led to poor policy decisions, the planning commission reports. “The rush to pass residency restrictions and community notification for all sex offenders is fueled by a general public that is operating on fear rather than fact,” the report says.
(continued from page 1)
‘Tone that down’ And that perception also conforms to the most interesting comments from the X Mayors, which happened to come from Tom Brush. Early in the program, he bashed The Banks, saying he just didn't care about the issue, because one way of dealing with social problems around here was by diverting attention away from people and to buildings. You know, like not talking about the homeless, but about the buildings that house them. “It's a hell of a lot easier dealing with buildings than dealing with social problems” Brush said. Later, in subtle honesty, Brush answered Tillery's question about the powerlessness many people feel around here. Brush cited “tremendous pres-
sure from the business community and other leaders” to not discuss the “problems” of the area, to “tone that down” and “don't talk that way” when addressing any issues of substance in the region. And you have no choice but to listen to them, he explained, because when you need money to fund a project, where do you turn? Certainly not to Over-the-Rhine. So there you have it: the Greater Cincinnati region is not just a conservative region; it's a conservative region that consists of the “forces of reaction” on one side and those conservatives who channel Ward Cleaver on the other, among whom “Don't ask, don't tell” is considered a mature philosophy of living.
Local News 6 Retreat to Silence (continued from page 4) uals in relation to God.” Monks don’t leave the abbey, but they’re not hermits. Raphael said that most monks slip away about once a day to check e-mail. It’s better than phone messages, he said.
the outside world. In 2007 Rene led me to his basement rosary library. The rosary made of buckeyes strung together was my favorite. Books on the rosary, books on novenas, books on Mary. A tray of post-it notes from retreatants who came before me. Two years later I made my way back to that basement room alone as though I were retracing a dream. I’d put it so far out of my head; it seemed so far from reality. I saw the tray and recognized the handwriting on one of the notes. “Brother Rene, thank you always for teaching me the rosary,” it said. Signed, “Stephanie.” I didn’t remember writing the note, or the person who wrote it.
Meeting the shadow
Raphael, who in his former life was a Navy pilot, came to Gethsemani as part of a wave of men in search of meaning after World War II. The war had Brother Raphael from the Abbey of Gethsemani. ended while he was waiting to Photo by Stephanie Dunlap. ship out to the Western Pacifbe a great help with that.” Brother Rene exudes joyful ic. Soon after that, he visited As earthy and erudite as impishness that could verge on a brother in Florida to explore Raphael was, Brother Rene a touch of insane unreality. He connections for some busiseemed to me sweetly magi- says there are statues that cry ness venture. A walk down a cal. I met Rene, the night the oil of Mary’s tears. He unlurid Miami Beach boulevard guestmaster, screwed a little cylinder. There shook what in the retreat was a fluff of gauze inside. He Raphael, who in his meaning that house library. dipped in his index finger. The former life was a was left from He was zeal- tip looked wet when he pulled Navy pilot, came to contempoous about it out. Gethsemani as part rary life for ‘Nothing is pleasing’ Mary and the “I’d like you to do the same of a wave of men in Raphael. rosary. He be- and make the sign of the cross search of meaning The stillness could be brutal “ T h e stowed upon on your forehead,” he said. I after World War II. in ways I only realized when I very ground me “Mary’s did. was relieved of it. under me special blessBoth times Rene met me Every time I have a conshook,” he said. “That would ing” from Medjugorje and - for his first time, both times versation I am drawn out of have been a terrible life. I saw urged me to pass it on. During he asked myself. I forget that (revelation) as a kind of my last visit he predicted that what Jesus He said that at first my head and the grace.” Jesus will come back later this would say if he the life of prayer obsessions in it. Raphael, whose birth name year. smacked me. I wrestled was Paul Prendergast, spoke is disheartening. “I think Jesus is coming “When I through restlessmore of Carl Jung and O. He said there back through other people,” first came here ness and boreHenry than of St. Augustine. are many times he said. “He doesn’t have the abbot told dom. Raphael He said entering the monastic to come back in a body like me there are when “nothing is called these life was a crash course in psyyours or mine.” only two peo- pleasing, nothing times “aridity.” chology. I struggled to wrench my ple here, me solves me, nothing He said that “People are taught to take mind open to the possibil- and Jesus. I’ve at first the life good care of their ego in socifeels good.” ity. What if? Everyone holds been lookof prayer is disety,” Raphael said. “When we pieces of the truth, even when ing for other heartening. He said there are see in another what we don’t the pieces are splinters. people, but I haven’t found many times when “nothing is like in ourselves, we don’t “I’ve been here 58 years,” them,” Rene said. pleasing, nothing solves me, like that person. So you have Rene said. “And I’m very He said he’d have become nothing makes me feel good. to withdraw those projections. happy.” an alcoholic if he’d stayed in You think, ‘Is anybody really I found Jungian psychology to
STREETVIBES May 2009
hearing this? Does any of this have meaning anymore?’” At those times, Raphael said, the monk turns to God. “Why would God have aridity in the plan?” he said. “Because we are looking for the giver, not the gift. These are all God’s gifts – God wants you to seek the giver, and the gifts will take care of themselves.” Just when I’m wandering through the Stations of he Cross in the garden and getting blurry-eyed and fed up with all of it (why is it so frickin’ cold in April? We’ve got the March wind out there, Brother Raphael said earlier) I get to the last pillar, the resurrection, and a bird has shit on Jesus’ divine arm. Does God have a sense of humor? We do, so God must. When I returned to Gethsemani this March, I was afraid to ask about Raphael and Rene, desperately wanting some things to remain constant. God, I don’t want to fully embrace you because I am still young. The hurt of being separated from you sometime in my life is worse than never knowing you. I don’t know if I can survive more loss. Always waiting til the right time – I found Rene in the library where he again offered to whack me in the head with his cane, and I prayed the rosary with him that night before 7:30 Compline, but I saw nothing of Raphael. Later I learned that he’d died in the in-between.
Working Person’s College
Southwestern helps students who want jobs, not academics By Paul Kopp Contributing Writer A hectic energy can be felt in the halls of the downtown campus of Southwestern College. Teachers and students move about in close quarters, each office shared by at least two staffers, with students and passersby popping in to ask questions or chat about the day’s events. The office of Robert Schmalz, the school’s education director, is no exception. Staff members intermittently file in to check their mail, send faxes and look up students’ telephone numbers. The noise of passing students becomes part of the music of the place, but it is also as an indication of its approach to higher education. The close quarters create an
environment to develop real relationships, helping students more easily connect or re-connect with the idea of education with more purpose. Sitting behind his desk, Schmalz seems unaffected by the noise and flow of voices and people streaming about. Working in education for the better part of two decades, he was principal of Jacobs High School for four years. He has been at Southwestern for a year. “It is a downtown hidden treasure,” Schmalz says. “I sort of stumbled into it.” Schmalz says he often wondered what happened to students whom the public schools lost along the way. He was pleased to find that Southwestern offers programs for them, many of whom felt disenfranchised by education in the past, he says. Explain-
ing the difference between students at Southwestern and those at more traditional colleges, he likes the example given by a faculty member who also teaches at Miami University. “He tells me (Southwest students) seem more concerned (about their lives),” Schmalz says. “(The school) has its own beauty in that respect, because many of our students would be among the unemployable if they didn’t come here.” Southwestern College, at the corner of Seventh and Vine streets, has been in Cincinnati for 45 years. The school started with five campuses throughout the city owned by Gary Wright, who sold them to Lincoln Educational Services five years ago, according to Kathreen Buckner, the lead medical instructor at the
Southwestern College students are focused on long-term careers. Photo by Paul Kopp.
school. Buckner has taught at Southwestern College for 17 years. The school is proprietary, a for-profit institution, but the staff seems driven by something more than money. “The difference between here and other schools is the teachers, before they even
begin to work here, know it will involve going above and beyond to be able to connect with students and be able to meet the needs of the students,” Schmalz says. “The students come from
See Working, p. 11
STREETVIBES May 2009
Exceptional and Homeless ‘The Soloist’ explores homelessness, mental illness and friendship By Lew Moores Contributing Writer In a brief scene in The Soloist, the TV news is on. The year is 2005. The screen shows black faces, residents about to be made homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Nothing further is noted; perhaps Katrina merely sets the year. But it does more. As it played out over the days back in 2005, Katrina reminded the nation that not everyone had it well in America, that not everyone could escape natural disaster in their cars, that some were trapped by poverty. We had forgotten in 2005 – given not only the relative prosperity of that time, but also due to the fact that many newspapers medication and psychiatric had largely abandoned reporthelp. But he’d had enough of ing on the poor and inner-city that while in his 20s (he was in issues – that there was still an his mid-50s in 2005), so he’s under-class in America. They chosen a life on the streets of hadn’t disappeared. Los Angeles, playing classical You get that same feeling music on a violin and later a watching The Soloist, with its cello in a park with a statue of Dickensian scenes of poverty, Beethoven, homelessthen in a In the case of ness, despair, Los Angeself-abuse Nathaniel Anthony les highway and hope- Ayers, the promising tunnel. His lessness. Julliard School nights were Based on spent sleepa book by student who dropped ing on Skid out of school in the Steve Lopez, Row in Los a colum- early ‘70s, diagnosed Angeles nist for the with paranoid among other Los Angeles schizophrenia, he has broken and Times who lost souls. spent more not so much chosen a He has in than a year life of homelessness tow – more chronicling as been a victim of his evident in the life of a illness. the book than homeless but the film – a talented classhopping cart with all his possical musician whose glory sessions, the detritus of other years were in his youth, the peoples’ lives. Palm fronds, book and the film percolate on broken clock, sleeping bag, several different levels. buckets, boots, hubcap, clothWhile the film is ultimately ing, a tarp. He fends off sewabout the redemptive value of er rats by tapping sticks on friendship and music, it is also the pavement near where he about the complicated world sleeps. Ayers wants nothing of poverty and homelessness to do with medical and social and how to address it. help; musical instruments and In the case of Nathaniel sheet music will do. His cart is Anthony Ayers, the promishis crutch, as Lopez explains ing Julliard School student in the book. who dropped out of school in “The cart really is about the early ‘70s, diagnosed with security, and letting go of it paranoid schizophrenia, he has would be like letting go of the not so much chosen a life of side of the pool for the first homelessness as been a victim time,” Lopez writes. of his illness. Ayers “chooses” As long as Ayers has his only because he has options – cart, Lopez writes, he could an apartment awaits, as does never visit a doctor’s office:
want the apartment, doesn’t fers a heartfelt assessment. want psychiatric help. “I think that everybody So where does that leave who is homeless has someothers whose paths came from thing extraordinary in them,” different directions, those who he says. “They’re continuhave no champion in a news- ing to live and go forth in a paper columnist? Lopez poses system that says they’re not the question and suggests the important enough to have a answers are enormous, having home. There’s something exto do with affordable housing, traordinary that keeps pushing eliminatthem along.” ing povThe numWhile the film is ulerty and so bers of hometimately about the on. Where less in the redemptive value of to even new report friendship and music, it due out will start? In Cin- is also about the com- undoubtedly cinnati, plicated world of pov- show an inabout 31 erty and homelessness crease from percent of and how to address it. 2000, Spring the homesays. less popu“We are lation suffer from chronic pretty sure that since 2000, mental illness, according to and with the economic crisis, a 2000 study by the Greater the numbers are higher,” he Cincinnati Coalition for the says. Homeless. Lopez appeared April 26 While a new study of home- on CNN’s Reliable Sources. lessness is due soon, the coali- He told host Howard Kurtz, tion estimates that altogether Washington Post media critic, about 25,000 people experi- that it had taken five or six visence homelessness in Cincin- its with Ayers before he finalnati (90,000 in LA) during the ly wrote a word about him in course of any given year. At 2005. For the past three years any one time, depending on Ayers has lived in an aparttime of year, a few hundred ment run by an L.A. group that may actually live on the streets offers housing to the homeless – in encampments, abandoned mentally ill. buildings, cars. Another few Lopez told Kurtz that he hundred live in shelters, and urged Soloist director Joe most might find themselves Wright to hue “true to the esdoubled-up with friends and sence of this friendship.” That relatives. is there in the film. Those who choose to live as The film, of necessity, comAyers did do so for a number presses. The book and film of reasons, according to Josh have no grand ending. AySpring, executive director of ers does not end up playing the coalition. They prefer their for the L.A. Philharmonic or independence on the streets at Carnegie Hall. Instead, he – “Having your own spot,” ends up in an apartment, off he says – or they despair of the streets, and continues to the hopelessness they might play his instruments. That’s find in shelters, where they all. see that so many others share At the outset, Ayers is simtheir homelessness. Other ad- ply a story to Lopez, a good vocates have said some do story, his next column. It not like the rules of shelters, moves beyond that. Other prefer to come and go as they columns follow, then a book. wish, or are substance abusers During the course of it, Lopez who can’t take their alcohol tries to become Ayers’s de facand drug habits inside shel- to social worker. He schemes ters. Others just don’t trust on how to get Ayers into an shelters. apartment, into treatment. While the classically trained But finally, when all is said and talented musician Ayers is and done, he becomes simply the exception, are there people his friend. In the end, that’s all like Ayers among the home- that counts. less in Cincinnati? Spring of-
He couldn’t fit it through the doors. Ayers is rarely without his cart. To take a room would involve the hassle of moving it in and outside the room each time he left. He illogically maintains that he couldn’t just leave his cart unattended in an apartment. That would be to invite thievery. “Every criminal in Los Angeles will be coming through that door right there and they will steal everything I’ve got,” Ayers says in Lopez’s book. Ayers hears voices he has since he was a student. He doesn’t so much carry on conversations as deliver riffs on whatever pops into his head. When he is invited to a rehearsal concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he balks. “I am not going,” he tells Lopez in the book. “I don’t care. I don’t need to go to Walt Disney Hall, Fantasia, Donald Duck, Beethoven. … Does a cockroach talk to a greyhound?” The book and film are about homelessness aggravated by mental illness, so it is even more vexing, a double quandary. Solutions to Ayers’s homelessness, at least, are there – medical solutions are available, and an apartment offered largely as the result of Lopez’s columns. But Ayers has to be a willing partici- Tues and Thurs Buffet($7.00)-11AM-2PM Wed-Thur-Fri-Sat 9PM-3AM pant. He doesn’t
1128 Walnut St Pizza by the Slice
Sexy, Yummy, Veggie Your tour guide into the steamy side of vegetarian cuisine By Alecia A. Lott Contributing Writer When is the last time you called your mother? If she’s anything like my Ma (and if you’re anything like me), she’s probably wondering why you don’t call or visit her more often. Oh, the guilt… Mother’s Day, which is May 10, can be your ticket to getting on Mom’s good side once again — if you play your cards right. Try this classy idea: Serve Mom a savory, down-home brunch that honors not
STREETVIBES May 2009
Photo by Alecia A. Lott.
only her, but also non-human mothers — cows, chickens, sows — by not using their flesh, eggs or milk. Give her a little speech about the power of the maternal spirit in nature. Tell her what qualities from the animal kingdom — the renowned fervor of a lioness when protecting her cubs, for example — you see in her and how lucky you are that she’s always been there for you. But
don’t make her cry: Her food will get cold. Though inspired by the scrumptious hash browns at Tucker’s Restaurant in Overthe-Rhine, my version is more of a guideline than a recipe. Feel free to throw in your (or your mom’s) favorite veggies. This tastes best when made in a cast-iron skillet. Don’t ask me why.
Vegetable Hash-Mash 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large yellow onion, diced 2 large russet potatoes, peeled (if you wish) and chopped 2-3 leaves of kale, tough stems removed, chopped 1 small bell pepper (any color), seeded and diced ½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (I recommend thick slices of Portobello.) 1 large fresh tomato, diced 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves Salt and freshly ground black pepper Red pepper flakes (optional) 1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot for about 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and drain. 2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until softened, about five minutes. 3. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms, cover and cook until softened, another five minutes. 4. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned, yet another five minutes or so. Lightly mash the potatoes a bit with a fork or potato masher. 5. Add the kale, basil and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until the kale is wilted, about two to three minutes. 6. Add the tomato and cook until heated through, two to three minutes. 7. Serve hot, garnished with basil. I like it with ketchup. But then I like everything with ketchup. 8. Serve with veggie sausage patties, toast with jam and juice or coffee. And give your mom a great big hug.
Funny Man, Serious Sales ‘Streetvibes’ vendor uses humor to peddle the paper By Mark Payne Contributing Writer
I have to do keep going forward.” He used to sleep on a bench, Cleo Wombles is at the sometimes in the snow, across corner of Fifth and Walnut the street from where he now streets selling Streetvibes, an sells papers. alternative newspaper pubWombles, 52, says his outlished monthly by the Greater look has made a difference. Cincinnati Coalition for the “I just try to have a positive Homeless outlook on life,” he says, “I “Why did the skeleton like to make people laugh.” go into the Making closet?” he Wombles has came people smile a long way from asks a passis what breaks erby. “’Cause sleeping on a bench “the burden of he didn't have downtown and has a person beany-body.” ing homeless,” no plans to return according to A woman to the life he had. Wombles, who smiles and continues walking. was born and “It’s jokes like this that I raised in Cincinnati. He wears come up with that I share with an assortment of novelty items people,” Wombles says. to amuse potential customers: Vendors sell the paper for a red clown nose, a clown hat a dollar, earning 75 cents per or a hamburger hat. He mimes. copy. But his funniest accessory is Wombles usually sells at his array of jokes. the same corner from 8 a.m.-2 A man walks by. p.m. Monday through Friday. “How do basketball players He then goes to University keep cool during the game?” Heights to sell the paper in Wombles asks. front of Chipotle restaurant. “How?” the man asks. Wombles says selling “They stand by the fans.” Streetvibes helped turn his life Humor is Wombles’ bigaround. gest sales tool, and it works, “I was homeless for seven judging by the volume of his years,” he says. “I was an al- sales, consistently the highest coholic and drug addict. Wine, among Streetvibes vendors. wine, wine – that was my in- “Sometimes 1,300 papers a fluence.” month,” he says. He says he used to blow his Wombles also makes use of money on drinking, drugs or his time on the street by dogambling. ing small deeds for people. “I would blow my money, Chipotle stands adjacent to a but I don't do that anymore,” parking lot that is notorious Wombles says. “I make every for towing cars, because the dollar count. I'll do whatever tow-truck drivers that frequent
the area get paid on commission. When Wombles sees a car about to get towed, he runs into the restaurant and yells, “Hey, guys, the towtruck driver is here. Make sure you got enough money on the correct meter, or (spot) 10 is getting towed.” The owner of the car still might have to pay $50, but it saves her from having to go to an impound lot and paying twice that amount. Once, Wombles says, he caught two men trying to steal purses in the ‘Streetvibes’ vendor Cleo Wombles. Photo by Andrew Anderson. restaurant. happened to Wombles while “The only time I will beg is His goal is long-term relaselling Streetvibes involved a if I lost my wallet and I need tionships with customers. family relationship, he says. to get home,” he says. “When I “If I keep my good repu“My daughter was missing begged, I was conning, ’cause tation for these people, they for two years – bipolar,” he I was an addict, and addicts come and buy,” he says. “I've says. “I thought she was dead. con.” had bankers, judges, lawyers, Here is Fifth and Walnut on Wombles says he has spiripolicemen. That didn't use May 3. She is coming across tual support. to happen. I use to run from the street right here.” “Some people in AA (Alcothese people.” He points towards the cross- holics Anonymous) say they Wombles says he must bewalk. find a higher power,” he says. lieve in “positive mental atti“And now she is back home. “I found mine. Evil happens tude.” Even if he is having a Now, that is a good thing.” all around you, man. There is bad day, he won't let it show. Wombles has came a long always a negative thing. We He believes that, if he makes way from sleeping on a bench do need for people to see a people smile, they will come downtown and has no plans positive influence.” back and buy copies of the pato return to the life he had. Wombles has a saying to per. He says he still isn't where he describe his progress: “From But sales aren’t the only wants to be, but not even close the gutter to the udder, and I benefit. Perhaps the most to where he use to be. He still didn't stutter.” meaningful thing that has struggles, but won't beg.
STREETVIBES May 2009
Musicians independently expand vision before signing with labels By Ariana Shahandeh Contributing Writer
lease of his first album, Awake, in 2005. At one point Vesely was earning up to $20,000 a From the insomnia-inspired month on merchandise and laptop music making stage to music sales on his own. building a music myspace to Support and recognition for finally signing with a label, Secondhand Serenade’s honest these days bands lyrics and pasare developing sionate delivery The band’s their music long eventually led before deliver- electronica style labels to seek and thoughtful ing it. a partnership. songwriting Secondhand But Vesely was Serenade and more focused on pierced the Paper Route are hearts of college the integrity of two examples of the music than campuses bands that have on getting a connationwide. found success tract; if he were with a label only going to sign after years of a with a label, it sovereign pursuit for musical was going to be on his terms. growth. “I just took it one step at a John Vesely, the core mem- time, tried to make decisions ber of Secondhand Serenade, that would affect what I was which originated in Menlo doing in a positive way,” he Park, Calif., started out mak- says. “You have to be smart ing music from his own home. and not jump on the first deal This led to the independent re- that comes to you.”
Vesely eventually ran into Daniel Glass, an industry legend and founder of Glassnote Records, at a showcase in New York City. By 2007 Secondhand Serenade re-released Awake through Glassnote. Later the album, A Twist in My Story, would be born of the new partnership. To Vesely, the deal was worth the wait. “We work really well together,” he says. “(Glass) gives me the space to do what I want and gives me a lot of resources, so it’s perfect.” That creative space between producer and artist seems to be the most appreciated element of the relationship. JT Daly of Paper Route, whose home base is Nashville, signed with Universal Records. “It was more about finding someone that’s running parallel next to us, sharing the same vision at the same time and re-
alizing that this could be a great team, rather than looking for someone to save us,” he says. “(It wasn’t) like, “Man do we have to get a record deal or we’re dead.” P a p e r Route’s musical soul was inspired by an iBook, inexpensive equipment and sleepless nights. The band’s electronica style and thought- Paper Route ful songwriting pierced
See Control, p. 13
Vendors’ Artwork Artwork by Anthony Williams
Berta’s Art Corner
“In the shadow of solar cell technology” Michigan
Say What?! _____________________ “In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.” - Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States
Column 10 The Shadow of Poverty Stories my father never told me
STREETVIBES May 2009 Michael Henson is author of Ransack, A Small Room with Trouble on My Mind, The Tao of Longing and Crow Call. This column is part of a monthly series on poverty and addiction.
I knew very little about poverty, so that I got to know and her four children look like at it. He should have been a ***** poverty growing up. I learned the people in the little trailer Okies in a Dorothea Lange hero to the family. But nearly a lot about it – that of others park in the shadow of the Big My parents both knew pov- photo. Indeed, they were Ok- everyone just shook his or her and that of my own – later Four Bridge and the pretty erty as children. My mother ies of a sort. My grandparents head. Nearly everyone who on. But my w o m a n was the only child of a widow were rural southerners who knew him would tell you he “If you’ve really been parents saw with two in a small mill town in Mas- never seemed to settle any could have made something to it that my poor, you remain poor (or was sachusetts. She was lifted out one place and even home- of his life, but he drank it all at heart all your life.” sister and I it three? of poverty by the election of steaded Oklahoma for a time away. saw as little But not my father. Dad was – Somerset Maugham or four?) Franklin Roosevelt, which until they moved north with of poverty as screaming led to her mother becoming the whole Henson clan on the one who had to drag him possible in one small town. children who stayed drunk the postmistress of the town, word that there was work out of the bars. Dad was the They were hard working and never paid me; and the old with a stable income and a in the foundries in Sidney. one who had to leave college and thrifty. They both had widow at the end of my route chance to go to a teachers col- In another photograph, my to come home and help care government jobs. We owned who complained about my lege. She taught in one-room grandfather in his suit and my for his younger brothers and our own house, and we ate lollygagging with them girls schoolhouses in the moun- grandmother in what looks sister. He probably did a lot regularly. We went on vacatains of Vermont to be her finest dress stand more I will never know about. tions. We owned our own auand married my in front of a clapboard house But he never talked about it. tomobile and, after my mother It seemed he wanted to father when . . . with a wooden sidewalk. The went back to teaching school, . Well, that’s too rickety surroundings stand in leave as much of that life as By Michael Henson we had two – a nice one for long a story for stark contrast to their attempt far behind him as he could. her to drive to school and a He worked hard, avoided alwhat we’re doing to look their best. beater for my father to take What the photo does not cohol, married well and was here. She emerged downtown to the post office. at the start of it. I did some se- from poverty with opinions, show is how my grandfather, generally happy with the life Poverty was something rious lollygagging with them but few scars. by his drinking, sabotaged he made. other people went through. In girls every day so she did have I don’t think my father is My father had a different every chance at gentility, evSidney, Ohio, where I grew up, a right to complain, but that is story, one he would never tell. ery hope for stability, every much different from others it was something endured by another story. I only learned about it from the thought of a steady climb who grew up in poverty that the Black people across town I read about poverty, of stories of my aunts and uncles up the wobbly ladder of the was further undermined by in Buckeye Terrace, a collec- course. I was a teenager when and from alcohol. I don’t What the photo does not show is how my tion of crumbling, slate-sided Kennedy was elected. My par- little hints think my father project houses. Or, closer to ents were liberal Democrats. my father grandfather, by his drinking, sabotaged ev- is much differhome, you might see it at the My mother, an Irish Catho- w o u l d ery chance at gentility, every hope for stabil- ent from chilend of Shie Avenue in the little lic from Massachusetts, even let fall. I ity, every thought of a steady climb up the dren raised in the shacks near the dump where talked like the Kennedys, and still don’t double affliction wobbly ladder of the American Dream. the migrants from Kentucky she encouraged me to read know it all, of poverty and settled. It was something you books like The Other America and I doubt addiction today. might see out in the country by Michael Harrington and I ever will. American Dream. I know he There are a lot of people who where old men lived in little Night Comes to the CumberMy father looked away ev- was a union leader because want to leave it behind. But I scrappy trailers or in a string land by Harry Caudill. ery time I asked him about his I’ve heard the story of how think the shadow of poverty is of little fishing cottages along But still poverty was some- childhood. Grandma had to use the rent long and touches many peothe banks of the Great Miami. thing that happened to other money to cover for him when ple. If we had poor relations, people. It had nothing to do he drank up the union dues. I know the shadow of child***** they were no one I knew. with us. He was a man with a third- hood poverty never left my faWhen I turned 12 or 13, I did not realize then, as I I have some family pho- grade education who could ther. If you asked him about it, my father expected me to go do now, that the shadow of tographs that tell part of the play five musical instruments he would tell you, “I don’t reto work, so I got a paper route poverty is always there. story. In one, my grandmother and could make a cast of an member.” And he would look that took me face to face with object by just taking a look away.
! ! ! Action Alert ! ! ! Cut Out and Sign This Letter and Return to the Ohio Justice and Policy Center City Council City of Cincinnati 801 Plum Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 Dear City Council:
David A. Singleton Ohio Justice & Policy Center 215 East 9th Street, Suite 601 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 513-421-1108 (phone) 513-562-3200 (fax)
I join with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center and other civic leaders who are asking the City of Cincinnati to end its blanket policy of denying employment to otherwise qualified applicants with felony convictions.
It is very important, from a community safety standpoint, that we do all we can to ensure that former offenders, who have been rehabilitated and are otherwise qualified for employment, be given a chance to work and become productive, law-abiding citizens. I encourage the City to adopt guidelines to help determine whether an otherwise qualified applicant with a felony record should be hired. Among the facts and circumstances the City should consider in making the employment decision are: (1) the nature and gravity of the offense(s); (2) the time elapsed since the conviction(s); (3) the age of the applicant at the time of the offense(s); (4) the number of convictions; (5) any evidence of rehabilitation or mitigation presented by the applicant; and (6) the degree to which the conviction(s) relate(s) to the duties of the job for which the applicant has applied. These guidelines are important in making sure that only those former offenders who present minimal risk receive City employment. The City of Cincinnati should join the growing number of cities that are opening employment opportunities to people with felony records. It is important for the City to show leadership on this issue to encourage more private sector employers to hire former offenders. Sincerely, Name:
STREETVIBES May 2009
A Little Snip Goes a Long Way
UCAN provides low-cost veterinary care By Jeremy Flannery Contributing Writer
Dogs and cats boast a more productive sex life than humans. Female dogs and cats can produce up to 18 to 20 puppies or kittens per year, according to the United Coalition for Animals (UCAN), a non-profit veterinary clinic in Lower Price Hill. There is almost no limit to the number of females that can be impregnated, unless either or both are fixed. UCAN is literally cutting those numbers down through its pet spaying and neutering service. The clinic’s mission is to eventually eliminate the number of homeless dogs and cats euthanized in Cincinnati. Dogs and cats might not volunteer for the surgery, but it certainly beats the alternative. More than 33,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each year in Cincinnati, costing taxpayers about $1.2 million annually, according to UCAN. UCAN opened in 2007 to provide low-cost spay and neuter services to low-income pet owners and animal shelters operating on small budgets. The fees for each surgery (dog spay $75, neuter $65, puppies
$60, cat spay or neuter $35) go directly toward animal services. The clinic loses about $10-20 per surgery, according to clinic manager Sonja Felix. But low cost doesn’t mean low quality of care. “Some people have expressed concern about, you know, are there trained vets there? Do you use anesthesia?” she says. “As you can see, it’s not a chop shop. There are windows to see into the surgery room and everyone here has a tremendous love for pets.” The clinic’s staff includes four veterinarians, one fulltime and three part-time, who perform surgeries for an estimated 10-15 dogs and 40-50 cats daily, Felix says. Twelve volunteers assist the clinic’s 15 employees. Many of the staff and volunteers have been animal rescuers and/or house rescued animals, Felix says. Volunteers assist with care for the animals between their surgeries and with the maintenance of the clinic. Barb Young started regularly volunteering at the clinic in December 2008. “I want people to know they have ways to care for their animals because over time
A cat being prepped for surgery at UCAN.
we lose our resources, getting older, and animals shouldn’t have to suffer for that,” Young says. Nor should financially burdened pet owners, Felix says. A Streetvibes survey of private veterinarian services shows dog spays cost $100 to $274, and dog neutering costs $78 to $150. Cat spaying costs $100 to $274, and cat neutering costs $59 to $150. “If people can’t afford the price, can’t afford to take care of their pets, then there wouldn’t be competition for them (in private veterinary practices),” Young says. “Some people that can’t afford to buy their pets food end up feeding – have to sacrifice their own food to feed them.” Pet food is not payable by food stamps in Ohio. Thanks to grants and donations, UCAN is able to offer vouchers and discounts for its services on a financial-need basis to those who cannot afford the listed prices. UCAN wants to make sure pets aren’t neglected because of their owners’ financial problems, Felix says. In addition to spaying and neutering, UCAN also provides medical services such as vaccinations and de-worming. The clinic recently added basic veterinarian care during weekday afternoons and Saturdays. For those who need it, UCAN provides transportation to the clinic. UCAN operates mostly through donations, Felix says. Its towels, the washers and
dryers that run perpetually, the surgical equipment and the pet food have been donated by individuals, hospitals and companies. UCAN needs volunteers with a variety of skills: office management, cleaning, animal care such as feeding the animals and cleaning their cages and community outreach to inform the public about the organization’s mission. Volunteers could help by handling
laundry for an hour, an option that might appeal to students seeking to fulfill communityservice requirements. “You don’t see it now, but there is usually a large pile of towels in the laundry room,” Young says. “These washing machines almost never stop running when we’re here.” UCAN hosts its first annual yard sale June 27, including games, food and face-paint for children.
UCAN has performed more than 15,000 surgeries, Felix says. Those 15,000 surgeries prevented potentially 270,000 fewer homeless dogs and cats in Cincinnati. UCAN is at 1230 W. Eighth St., Lower Price Hill. To find out if you’re eligible for discounted services at UCAN, call 513-721- 7387. To volunteer, call Jeannine Dalluge at 513-504-4413. For more information, visit ucancincinnati.org.
Working Person’s College various backgrounds but the at the end of their programs, majority are from urban areas, the school’s career office placand a lot of them (are) young es them in externships. Brian Hooten, single mothers,” If a student Southwestern’s Buckner says. “You have young misses a class, career services the staff calls people wanting to director, says change their lives he critiques stuto make sure but really don’t dents’ resumes, everything is helps them preknow how, so OK. they go through pare for interthe education sysviews, shows tem and get focused on what it them how to network with different employers and organizis they really want to do.” The field with the largest es job fairs so they can get an enrollment at Southwestern idea of what employers want. College is medical assisting. “I also mentor, counsel and The school also has a growing uplift some of these individubusiness management pro- als because, due to the econogram, as well as one in crimi- my, you also have to tell them nal justice. When students are that there is hope out there,”
Dr. Denise Bevins performs surgery on an animal. Photos by Andrew Anderson.
Hooten says. Some of the students must complete a GED program within the first three quarters of their enrollment. “I sometimes say it’s culture shock for me to come teach here,” says Charles Baker, the school’s GED director. “I try and keep it light, use a lot of humor and knock myself down because there is this image of being a white male teaching here, that I may be inaccessible so I try and make myself the clown. I try and dispel the fear and anxiety, and there’s so much of that here.” The school’s work involves more than academics. “We do a lot of counsel-
(continued from page 6) ing, diverting them to people or places that can assist them with issues that come up in their daily lives,” Buckner says. The way the staff treats students is part of what attracted Antony Jemison, a first-year business-management student. “The instructors here seem like they want you to finish,” he says. “They want to help you vs. bigger schools where they don’t have relationships with their students. You can’t come to them with your problems. Here it’s like family.” For example, if a student misses a class, the staff calls to make sure everything is
OK. Lois Robb, a student in the medical-assistance program, says teachers make her feel that they care. Earlier this year Robb lost her 3-yearold son’s father. She says her teachers were very supportive. She returned to school after the funeral. “They appreciated the fact that I was determined to still come and get my education despite my barriers,” Robb says. Buckner sees the school as a stepping-stone for anyone who wants to further her education or her career. “You start out with a foundation, and then you build on that,” she says.
STREETVIBES May 2009
We Need Some Things Redone So We Can Get a Lot Done I want to save Rothenberg. How in the world could you leave it like that? Here at Vine tiles on the floor are missing, doors are broke, the heat doesn’t always work. The bathrooms are dirty, nasty, and it stinks. There are holes in two of my classroom’s ceiling, and when it rains water falls through. That distracts me from my learning. We should not have to worry about our safety every time we come to school. We are very low on supplies. Will you please help us? The electrical problems are destroying our learning time. This school at Vine is a complete wreck! We found a dead rat in the closet. We don’t want to be scared of bugs that are around the building. We just want to be able to concentrate on our schoolwork and our teacher. I don’t think that we deserve to be one of the few schools without a renovated school. The school is not a good look for the students and staff. When people come here, they might think that this is a bad school because it looks Cincinnati School Board has agreed to revnovate Rothenberg crazy. Elementry. Photo by Lynne Ausman. I think that they need to do as they said and I feel like it’s not fair that almost every school has fix up Rothenberg. been renovated and ours has not! Even though it’s over 100 years old it’s okay. The board has been talking about renovating for at My mother used to go to this school when she was least five years. a kid. Students need bigger classrooms because it helps Students downtown need a nice, clean school. them to be more organized.
We need some things redone so we can get a lot done And not worry about the wrong things. Rothenberg deserves to be renovated because it’s been sitting there rotting to the point where it might end up falling. Old Rothenberg is very big. There will be more students going there. It won’t feel overcrowded. People who live up on the street can just walk to school. Parents won’t have to worry about having to find transportation. I think it’s better to have a nice looking school for my little sister to go to. It will be a better learning environment. It’s a great place to have recess and is safe for children to not run in the street. We work hard for our education. You should not knock down old Rothenberg. If you knock down the old Rothenberg, it would be hard to find the company to help knock it down since they are firing people off their job. Where will the kids all go who live in this area? If you really care, you will find it deep down in your hearts to make a change. Everyone in the community will really appreciate what you have done. I hope I just persuaded you to renovate the Old Rothenberg. Even though I won’t be here anymore, it is important to still have a better school. When I get older, I would want my kids to go to a good school. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my letter.
From letters written to CPS School Board by seventh- and eighth-grade students at Rothenberg on Vine. Lines compiled and arranged by Bonnie Neumeier from OTREPS, April 13, 2009.
Across 3. Support bar 8. Ballpoint 10. Have an obligation 11. Reactor (6,4) 12. Barrel 13. Draw air audibly up the nose
14. Bequest 20. Hiss 23. Ornamentation 26. Motor transport 27. Written expression of affection (4,6) 28. Ladies 29. Temperature 30. Unpleasant
1. French volume 2. Punctuation mark 4. At most 5. Debris 6. Tangelo 7. Act of stealing 8. In an inadequate manner 9. Coarse 15. Elastic wood 16. Road 17. Abrupt 18. Gourd fruit 19. Displaces 21. Expletives 22. Water vapor 24. Deep unconsciousness 25. Tear
Fill in the blank squares so that each row, each column and each 3-by-3 block contain all of the digits 1 through 9. The fundamental goal of a Sudoku puzzle is to use the provided numbers, or givens, to discover which numbers logically fill in the empty squares. The only rule of Sudoku is that each of the nine rows, each of the nine columns, and each of the nine 3x3 subsections must contain all of the numbers from one to nine, and each number consequently can occur in each row, column and subsection only once.
Answers on Page 15
STREETVIBES May 2009
Our Daily Jazz
Student orchestra livens up hospitality ministry
Our Daily Bread, a food and hospitality ministry at 1730 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, offers a mid-day meal, serving more than 500 meals every weekday. To volunteer or donate food, call Joan or Kathy at 513-621-6364.
By Angela Pancella Contributing Writer
casserole, cole slaw, tossed salad and desert. Some of our guests in the lower dining area “I wanna hear this music!” were playing cards or chess. one of our guests called as the Others, like the gentleman shouting band set up. All around the dining encourW e ’ d blocked off a agement area heads started the section of Our bobbing, and soon the to s t u d e n ts, Daily Bread’s more outgoing of our leaned lower dinguests got up to dance on the ing area with to “Knock on Wood” church pews, half-walls and “Blue Skies.” and just and now Cinwatched. cinnati Hills We’ve been blessed with Christian Academy (CHCA)’s Electric Jazz Orchestra came some great musical perforto take their places. One of our mances at Our Daily Bread — wooden tables got drafted as a the combo Jus2, for instance, keyboard stand. Trombones has played a couple of times. and trumpets and saxophones (Musicians reading this who were unpacked and a drum kit might feel inspired to play at our food and hospitality can set up. It was 10:30 on a Friday call 513-621-6364). This was the Electric Jazz morning, so lunch was still being served — leftovers from Orchestra’s second visit; the the week, a ham and cheese first was in March 2007. Both
Guests play chess while the Electric Jazz Orchestra plays in the background. Photo by Aimie Willhoite.
Students from the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Electric Jazz Orchestra entertain guests at Our Daily Bread. Photo by Aimie Willhoite.
visits coincided with the CHCA’s Serve-A-Thon, a day when all the students at the school’s four campuses set out to do service projects in small groups. Some students were cleaning up parks, doing landscape work at hospitals or nursing homes. The Electric Jazz Orchestra, about 20 high school students strong, was one of the larger groups. They were performing several concerts around Cincinnati as part of the Serve-A-Thon. The students set up all their instruments, music stands, amps and speakers in a matter of minutes, and then the jazz kicked in. All around the dining area heads started bobbing, and soon the more outgoing of our guests got up to dance to “Knock on Wood” and “Blue
Creative Control the hearts of college campus“It helped define our vision es nationwide, and eventually more,” Daly says. “We retheir music reached out to an ally knew who we were by the even broader audience: any- time we got the record deal. one bored with mainstream. I don’t want people to think That individualistic image, we’ve changed at all. This is however, is exactly what is at what we set out to do from the stake now that start - to make Many of our a label is ina creative pop volved. musical authorities albums.” “This has And they can are beginning raised the bar, back it up. Even to come from because when after signing, an independent we were just both bands have background, and an indie band maintained the a new niche of doing whatevcontrol over er we wanted, entrepreneurship is their art: Paper we had the inRoute still enbeing created. die scene paygineers its own ing attention to songs and does us, looking in our direction,” its own visual art, and SecDaly says. “And now that ondhand Serenade’s music we’re signed, we have to win has only changed by becomthat all back again to prove ing more accessible. that we haven’t changed our Essentially, the labels’ roles vision.” are in fact “running parallel” Despite the mixed feelings to the artists, rather than overabout the effect record labels lapping. What’s interesting is have on an artist’s music, Pa- the fact that neither band exper Route’s self-supporting pected it to go this far. experience helped solidify the “I didn’t go into it thinking band’s intent. I needed to get signed,” Ve-
Skies.” One man gave a grin at a particularly sweet keyboard riff; some folks used cell phones to snap pictures. The first set of older songs ended with John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” Then came a couple of contemporary worship numbers in horn-heavy arrangements — “Lord, You Are Good” and “Friend of God” — and more shouts of encouragement. This from a soloist: “Come on, horns, gimme something!” “That’s old school,” one of our guests commented as the brass section began a stately rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which then slid into a smooth jazz arrangement punctuated by cymbals. Hits by Stevie Wonder (“I Wish”) and Tom Jones fol-
lowed — even Mary Beth Peters, our executive director, was seen breaking out the Carlton to “It’s Not Unusual.” The finale was Charles Mingus’ “Better Get Hit In Yo’ Soul.” “Put some sauce on it!” one of our guests insisted to the drummer as he soloed. And then the Electric Jazz Orchestra headed out to its next gig. The sheer number of positive comments throughout was overwhelming. It seemed everyone gave their vote of approval with “I enjoyed it,” “That was good,” “I liked that” or some variation. One woman even commented afterward, “If — and that’s a big word, ‘if’—if I ever get married, I want them to play at my wedding.”
(continued from page 9)
sely says. “I didn’t go into it thinking I needed to even be very successful. I just wanted to make an album, and I just wanted to get it out to people as best I could.” D a l y agrees. It wasn’t until the band’s drummer, Gavin Mc- Secondhand Serenade Donald, joined the developed, followed by hard group that Paper Route started work. But not until a foundato get serious. tion was built, a vision defined, “Before that it was all more did it rise to the next level. of just a recording project,” Many of our musical auDaly says. “We sort of felt we thorities are beginning to were finished with music in a come from an independent lot of ways.” background, and a new niche Somehow the casual affec- of entrepreneurship is being tion these musicians had for created – finances, copyrights, music turned into a hobby, work ethic, risks, originalthen a project. Soon a passion ity and timing, all things in-
volved in starting a band from the ground up. With this new trend, the age of being developed has replaced the age of being discovered. Hopefully, the industry will continue to encourage this sense of individuality. If we’re really lucky, it might even deliver artists that inspire us to buy CDs again.
Starting Life and Starting Over
How I learned about family and faith boy had a beautiful mother. They were going about their business, and then I had the accident. They loved me back to the point where I was all caught up. To me, that is and was amazing. Now, as I said, my mother began to go to church, and me and my brothers and sisters went also. My father at that time did not. So I was in church at a young age. M and Born in Cincinnati, the old- my brothers and sisters had to est of four, I began a happy go. It seemed like it was all life as a child. My father was the time. there, and my mother was also When Christmas came, we there. ate good, and I had to wear a I was told by my grand- three-piece suit. At that time mother on my mother’s side of my life the seed was being that I was spoiled the first few planted about God and his creyears of my life. That’s be- ation. I thank my mother for cause I was the having a heart oldest grandI was only 5 years to desire more child on my from life. Beold, and I had to mother’s side cause of her, wear a patch over me and my of the family. Then there one of my eyes for a family began very long time. was an accito learn, and dent. And I was church then hurt in a bad way. I was hurt became a part of my life. so bad that I had to be flown Once I stopped playing to the hospital in a helicopter. in church and started learnI was fed through my nose, ing, even before I learned the and my family was worried books of the Bible, I learned about my life. Things were so this: 1. Hear the word. 2. Read bad that I had to learn how to the Word. 3. Study the Word. do everything all over again. I 4. Memorize the Word. 5. had to learn how to walk. Meditate on the Word. Once I learned everything For any of this to be a blessthat I had already been taught ing in your life, you must up to that point, my family have faith. Faith helps you get said I began my recovery and started. Faith helps you along I recovered in a big way. I was the way. Faith in Jesus grows told I learned how to walk you. again and I learned how to If you’re reading this story do everything else. I was told and have questions, have an I was even better than before odd job you need someone to the accident. do or need encouragement, I was only 5 years old, and I you can contact me at 513had to wear a patch over one of 823-6030. my eyes for a very long time. Now you know just a little Then I began school. School about me. If you want me was wonderful because it was to speak to a group or your always something to do and I church, you can call me. You liked that. A short time after can also call Jeni Jenkins, that, my mother began to at- education coordinator for the tend church. greater Cincinnati Coalition So I was this young boy for the Homeless, at 513-421with a cool father. This young 7803, ext. 14. By Tommy Thompson Streetvibes Vendor
Are you interested in helping with Streetvibes? Are you a writer, poet, artist or photographer? If so, contact Greg Flannery at 513.421.7803 x 12 or email email@example.com
STREETVIBES May 2009
Homeless Sam His attitude makes him wealthy
ing the day so he could have a By Dan Hoeweler roof over his head at night. He Contributing Writer desires nothing but his freedom and love for life. He gets Sleeping outside under a exactly what he wants, and bridge was an old man named nothing more. Sam. He reeked of sweat and During the day he sits at dirt and hadn't shaved nor busy crosswalks in downtown trimmed for months. When Cincinnati carrying a cardhe smiled, a yellow sulfuric board sign asking for change. gleam apBusinessmen peared across dressed in Sam always has his face, t h r e e p i e c e a big smile on his showing his suits walk face, knowing full yellow teeth by, somethat he hasn't well he is one of the times willing brushed in richest people in all to help with nearly a year. a little bit of of Cincinnati. Next to him spare change. was a six-pack They feel sorof cheap beer he purchased at ry for him, not having the nice the store from the change he’d car, the trophy wife and the acquired while begging on the big house they’re so proud of. streets. His possessions are Others simply walk by in disfew, as he needs to carry all of gust, wishing he would simply them. This bridge has been the disappear. old man’s home for the last Sam always has a big smile year. The cops kicked him out on his face, knowing full well of all his other homes. Around he is one of the richest people him was a heap of garbage in all of Cincinnati. He feels that included hamburger and sorry for these businessmen candy wrappers, empty beer wanting to control people all cans and dirty old clothes that the time and always trying to had been worn out over the seem important. He knows years. that, despite all their possesEveryone feels sorry for sions, few appreciate life as Sam, yet Sam never feels much as he does. He lives in sorry for himself. Unlike most bliss. of the homeless, he chose this Everywhere he goes, he sees lifestyle. He tired of the rat wonder and joy, as if wearing race, the struggle to see who is a special set of glasses worth the alpha male in the pack. He a million dollars. Love surtired of the constant struggle rounds him like an aura of joy for possessions and pieces of no rich man could ever buy. green paper everyone seemed People feel sorry for him, yet so crazy about. He decided he wonders why. Why should early on in his life that the you feel sorry for one of the most important commodity for richest men in Cincinnati? him is freedom – the freedom Sometimes he’ll find a nice to wake up whenever he wants beat-up old suit at the Salvaand not be pushed around and tion Army and prance around threatened by someone dur- the streets of downtown Cin-
cinnati, feeling richer than almost anyone there. He stares at the tall buildings, feeling as if he owns them all. Sam is indeed rich, yet everywhere he goes, people felt sorry or disgusted by him. It doesn’t bother him one bit. Sam lives in a world of his own, a world much greater than that of most people. He loves his life and freedom so much that he couldn't imagine selling one hour of his time to a factory or company. Every now and then he’ll sit down, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and start crying out of happiness and joy about how wonderful his life is. He feels compassion for those beneath him, the people slaving away hour after hour, collecting green pieces of paper he knew little about. He wonders every now and then if somehow he could help these lost souls he sees everyday walking through the city, in a rush over creating some object or thing that is worth green paper. If only he could teach them how beautiful life is if you just stand back and watch it. Convinced few of them would listen, he decided instead to have the glory and beauty of life all to himself. Sam loves his freedom more than anything on this planet. Freedom was more important to him than money, power and fame. He is living the American dream that most Americans can't even dream of, the dream of endless freedom – freedom so great that no number can take away or convince him otherwise. Sam is one of the wealthiest men in Cincinnati.
STREETVIBES May 2009
Neighborhood center celebrates 25 years of empowering Over-the-Rhine By Maika Arnold Contributing Writer
Imagine Over-the-Rhine with a beautiful garden for children to learn and play in, a steel drum band, photography workshops, African drumming, poetry readings and art classes. These are a reality at the Peaslee Neighborhood Center on East Fourteenth Street. The Peaslee Center grew out of a grassroots movement by a group of concerned women who wanted Over-the-Rhine to have an asset that belonged to the community. Opened in 1984, will celebrate its 25th anniversary Dec. 14. Members of the community helped raise about $290,000 to purchase Peaslee Elementary School from Cincinnati Public Schools after it closed in 1984, according to Bonnie Neumeier, the director and one of the founders of the center. The center’s goal has been to
Peaslee Neighborhood Center
empower the people of Overthe-Rhine, offering residents a chance to express themselves through art classes. Residents created a series of mosaics now housed at Peaslee, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless and other locations, such as Love Dove at 12th and Vine streets. The center sponsors a steel drum band and offers music classes, including piano and violin lessons; poetry readings; and sign language lessons. Peaslee’s Childcare Center, which serves children 6 weeks to 12 years old, uses hands-on learning to help develop their minds. Children learn math by learning how to play African drums studying and the beats. They learn how to read by telling stories with the teachers. They learn about vegetables in the Edible Garden. The garden, a new addition to the center, helps children learn where food comes from and helps them appreciate the earth. This hands-on approach gives
them a better understanding of ecology and the satisfaction of growing their own plants and vegetables. The Peaslee Center enables residents to hold meetings and social gatherings. It also provides space for seven nonprofit advocacy groups: the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, A Small Group, Equal Justice, Ohioans to Stop Executions, Christians for Peace in El Salvador, the Center for Community Change and the Intercommunity Workers’ Justice Committee. Peaslee now faces an uncertain future. Because of the recession, the center hasn’t received some of the grants it had hoped for. The center lost the Homeless Child Care grant from the Salvation Army, worth $50,000, for this year, along with a few other grants and funding, Neumeier says. Peaslee needs about $85,000 by the end of the year to keep some of its programs from being diminished or eliminated, she says. “We seriously could use $100,000,” Neumeier says. “Our budget each year is about $450,000 to $5000,000 for the license for child care and everything else. So I’m hoping the word can get out between the broad community again to keep everything here running.” Neumeier says she believes
Kim Burgas, Bonnie Neumeier, Annabelle Johnson and Michael Jackson on the steps of Peaslee Neighborhood Center. Photos by Lynne Ausman.
the community will help as it has in the past. One of the reasons the center has survived for 25 years is because of public support, she says. “We’ve had a lot of joy and bumps over the last 25 years, but it’s been worth it,”
Neumeier says. “We don’t have a lot of community assets in the neighborhood that belong to the people. We’ve got to keep Peaslee as a pillar of strength.” (Jeremy Flannery contributed to this story.)
To help the Peaslee Center, contact Bonnie Neumeier at 513-6215514, ext. 20, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations of basic supplies for the Childcare Center are especially welcome. For more information on the Peaslee Center, visit peasleecenter.org.
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STREETVIBES May 2009
Streetvibes vendors buy the paper for 25 cents and sell the paper for $1, keeping the money they have earned. The vendors can be identified with a white badge and can be found selling the paper in downtown Cincinnati, Clifton, Northern Kentucky and area churches. The money they earn helps them meet basic housing, food and health care needs. Not all vendors pictured.
Need Help or Want to Help? Shelter: Women and Children
Central Access Point...381-SAFE Cincinnati Union Bethel...768-6907 Bethany House...557-2873 Grace Place Catholic Worker House...681-2365 Salvation Army...762-5660 YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter...872-9259
First Step Home ...961-4663
City Gospel Mission...241-5525 Justice Watch...241-0490 St. Fran/St. Joe Catholic Worker House...381-4941 Mt. Airy Shelter...661-4620
AA Hotline...351-0422 CCAT ...381-6672 Joseph House ...241-2965 Hamilton County ADAS Board ...946-4888 Recovery Health Access Center ...281-7422 Sober Living ...681-0324 Talbert House...641-4300
Anthony House (Youth)...961-4080 Caracole (HIV/AIDS)...761-1480 Drop Inn Center...721-0643 Interfaith Hospitality Network...471-1100 Lighthouse Youth Center...221-3350 St. John’s Housing...651-6446
CMHA...721-4580 Excel Development...632-7149 OTR Community Housing...381-1171 Tender Mercies...721-8666 Tom Geiger House...961-4555 Dana Transitional Bridge Services Inc. ...751-0643 Volunteers of America...381-1954
Lord’s Pantry...621-5300 OTR/Walnut Hills Soup Kitchen & Pantry..961-1983 Our Daily Bread...621-6364 St. Francis Soup Kitchen...535-2719
Charlie’s 3/4 House...784-1853 DIC Live In Program...721-0643 Prospect House...921-1613 Starting Over...961-2256
Catholic Social Action ...421-3131 Community Action Agency ...569-1840 Contact Center...381-4242 Franciscan JPIC ...721-4700 Greater Cinci Coalition for the Homeless..421-7803 Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center...5798547 Legal Aid Society ...241-9400 Ohio Justice & Policy Center ...421-1108 Peaslee Neighborhood Center ...621-5514 Project Connect Homeless Kids ...363-3300 Stop AIDS...421-2437
Center for Respite Care ...621-1868 Cincinnati Health Network ...961-0600 Crossroad Health Center ...381-2247 Hamilton county Mental Health Board...946-8600 Hamilton County TB Control ...946-7628 Health Resource Center ...357-4602 Homeless Mobile Health Van...352-2902 McMicken Dental Clinic...352-6363 Mental Health Access Point...558-8888 Mercy Franciscan at St. John...981-5800 NAMI of Hamilton County..458-6670 Oral Health Council...621-0248 PATH Outreach...977-4489
Catholic Social Services...241-7745 Center for Independent Living Options...241-2600 Churches Active in Northside...591-2246 Emmanuel Community Center...241-2563 FreeStore/FoodBank...241-1064 Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart...381-0111 Goodwill industries...771-4800 Healing Connections...751-0600 Madisonville Education & Assistance Center...2715501 Mary Magdalen House...721-4811 People Working Cooperatively...351-7921 St. Vincent de Paul...562-8841 The Caring Place...631-1114 United Way...721-7900 Women Helping Women...977-5541
Brighton Center...859-491-8303 ECHO/Hosea House...859-261-5857 Fairhaven Resuce Mission...859-491-1027 Homeward Bound Youth...859-581-1111 Mathews House...859-261-8009 NKY Homeless & Housing Coalition...859-727-0926 Parish Kitchen...859-581-7745 Pike St. Clinic...859-291-9321 Transitions, Inc...859-491-4435 Welcome House of NKY...859-431-8717 Women’s Crisis Center...859-491-3335 VA Domiciliary...859-559-5011 VA Homeless...859-572-6226
St. Raephaels...863-3184 Salvation Army...863-1445 Serenity House Day Center...422-8555 Open Door Pantry...868-3276
Published on May 1, 2009