He was sitting outside Trader Joe's in Northwest Portland, selling Street Roots. He'd set up a table, on which the newspapers were displayed. People were walking by as if he didn't exist.
Now, I may not do as much as I would like to combat the problems of homelessness, but I can never pass a Street Roots' vendor without stopping to buy a copy and have a chat.
The paper's mission is to create "income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by publishing a newspaper that is a catalyst for individual and social change." The vendors buy their copies for 25 cents and sell the paper for $1. There's always at least one thought-provoking article in each edition, as well as poetry, short stories, and artwork. My favorite vendor/artist goes by the name of "Bear."
This particular vendor's name was David. He'd written a short message on each copy of the paper. "It's good to be back. Thanks for your support. Have a great day! Thanks, David."
Here's how our conversation went:
Me: "What have you got in this month's edition?"
David: "You have got to read the article about Joey Harrington."
Now, I know about as much about American football as any self-respecting English-bred aesthete--which is to say, next to nothing. However, I had heard about local boy, Joey Harrington, who was a star quarterback at the University of Oregon and then went on to have a less than stellar career starting with the Detroit Lions, and ending with the New Orleans Saints. But what was Joey Harrington doing on the cover of Street Roots?
Well, he's returned to Portland with his wife and infant son. But, not content to rest on his laurels, he's out in the community with his Foundation, supporting such organizations as the Shriners, the Boys and Girls Club, SMART, and Girls Inc. He also volunteers at Blanchet House. http://www.blanchethouse.org/ The guy is a complete mensch.
Not surprisingly, Joey Harrington wants the Saints to win today's Superbowl. I'm not bothered either way, but I'll go with New Orleans on his say-so. After all, they've never even been in a Superbowl.
David and I exchanged a few more pleasantries before I went on my way. As I was stacking my groceries in the back of my car, I glanced at Street Roots' back page. It showed a poster hanging at the United Church of Christ in Ashland, Oregon: Jesus, with an arm outstretched. The caption read: "How can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?"
A good reminder to all of us Sunday worshippers of the rebel Jesus.