Last week, I presented a poster on my graduate work at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference and am pleased to announce that I won the Judge’s Choice Award for my poster! It is truly an honor to be recognized by the academic urban planning community. Click here to view and read the poster in full resolution.
I included a poem that I wrote earlier this year in the top center of my poster, titled “Panhandling at MLK and Saratoga”, to provide a perspective of what it is like to actually “walk the lane” panhandling on a major boulevard. I wrote it based off of a journal entry I had written after watching Cricket, one of the residents of the encampment, panhandle at the named intersection. The photo with the words “HOMELESS FAMILY “Any” HELP Is a BLESSING” is actually part of the text of the poem. I majored in English writing at Lynchburg College (graduated May 2009) and write poetry as a hobby. Seeing as one of my recommendations for planners is to encourage social community development through art workshops, it seemed fitting to share this experience through written art. Full text version of the poem:
Panhandling on MLK at Saratoga
Sun heavy on crumbling sidewalk,
smog rising from idling cars.
With sweat running around the edge
of her sunburnt face,
she walks the lane
with a weathered cardboard sign
and Styrofoam cup in hand.
Is a BLESSING
She shuffles through a labyrinth
of cars and exhaust,
Horns blowing at her –
an obstacle, less than human.
Hope reviving with a sudden window cracking
and a gift of tarnished coins.
The cycle repeating,
again and again –
Red light – lanes,
Green light, median.
Daily earnings unpredictable –
a few dollars crinkled one day,
only a few coins the next.
She dreams of a day
when she doesn’t have to begin
every conversation with
“Hi, could you spare some change?”
then end with “Thank you and God Bless.”
One day, she’ll have friends,
and can give to them in return.