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Knowing the Neighbors

February 19, 2018



[Not So Simple: Observations on Poverty and People will be available for purchase through Amazon and local Ventura County bookstores (to be determined) in ONE WEEK 2/23.  Here is a preview of what you can expect.]


Stories stimulate and engage the brain.  Stories use the whole brain and activate language, sensory, visual, and motor areas.  With all the data surrounding storytelling, I made a conscious decision to listen and then tell the stories of those who are homeless.


If we want to tackle poverty, it has to start by listening to those affected by it.  Looking at problems through a human-centered lens can kickstart us towards possible solutions.


I’ve heard so many tales over the past three years- too many to count.  With each one, there was always something different, something unique. Although there are underlying themes throughout each narrative, I wanted to use art to showcase the variety of each person living outside. 


There’s never a single story.  Not for school shooters, not for successful CEOs, not for those living on the margins of society.  Similar threads for sure, but never clones. 


With 21 poems, the second section of poetry in Not So Simple is titled ‘Knowing the Neighbors.’  Realistic, heartbreaking, but hopeful, these poems paint a picture of the different roads people have taken.  This week we’ll hear from Tatiana.  She caught me after I read at an open mic two years ago.  Her story is worth sharing.  Her story highlights a part of poverty I hadn’t considered. 


On a personal note, I am so excited to share this project with all of you next week.  This journey has taught me a lot, and next week marks the completion of a personal goal I set out to accomplish ages ago.  Thank you to everyone who has continuously shown support.  I appreciate it more than you may know.







Why Don’t They Just Get a Job?



Everyone has a story

So for every story you share



Can relate



It was Tatiana

With her fingers

grasping my forearm

She thanked me

For thinking of the homeless


She had her own story

I come from Ukraine

And when I was younger my mother

And I took trains to Russia while she

Looked for work

We had no permanent home

which meant no permanent work

After interviews they wanted a number to call

But no phone means no job


Her words reminded me of the line

That people popularly use to describe their view

On homelessness

Why don’t they just get a job?

I shared this with her


My mother tried,


She asked if she could contact them

In a few days to find out.

It rarely worked…


As our conversation closed

& I began to walk home

I kept thinking of Tatiana's story


To escape deep poverty you need a job

In order to get a job you need a place of contact

When that’s not there

You rely on the willingness of a stranger to extend their hand

and subsequently change your narrative

All in the hopes of rewriting a story that is never, ever

as simple as it seems



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