A Portland man who spent seven months sleeping under a bridge says his life was finally turned around by strangers who criticized his personal choices.
Andy Whitman, 37, says he used to buy himself a cup of Starbucks coffee every few weeks as a treat to keep his spirits up. But that raised the alarm with passersby downtown, who began to question whether Whitman could actually be poor.
“People kept sneering at me and saying that because I could afford a cup of Starbucks coffee once in a while, I must not really be homeless,” said Whitman, who landed on the streets last year after he was laid off from his manufacturing job and could no longer afford his monthly rent.
Two weeks ago, Whitman said, he realized that the skeptics were right.
“The next time I’d scraped together $3, instead of buying coffee, I used it for a security deposit on a new apartment,” Whitman recalled. “Turns out there are a ton of places in the $3 range right here in the middle of town. I guess I just hadn’t been looking hard enough.”
“If only I’d started foregoing good coffee two weeks ago,” he added with a sigh. “I could have had my own condo by now.”
More funny briefs after the jump…
Social-service workers start self-help group at local bar
Social-service workers who deal with alcohol- and drug-dependent people living on the streets have started a self-help group at a local bar.
Gathering once a month at a local pub, a handful of social-service workers get trashed as they discuss how important they are for homeless people.
“I personally feel like we are reaching these people,” says Jeffrey, sipping on a Hefeweizen. “I feel the need to really be engaged in creating a revolution from within the system. I’m dedicated to making a change in our clients’ lives.”
“I think you do an amazing job,” Allison tells Jeffrey. “Working day in and day out with some of these people. It just takes time. They didn’t have the opportunities we had growing up. We’re so lucky.”
After more than three hours of discussion about the educational development of individuals with a history of alcoholism, Ken, who works at a local shelter, boastfully announces to the group that he’s drunk and is going to bike to his friend’s party across town if anyone wants to come.
The self-help group meets once a week on Fridays at 6-8 p.m. at the local Portland Pub at 136 NW Caesar Chavez Blvd. located downtown.
Layoffs hit Street Root’s copy editing staff of copy editors
As the newspaper industry continues to reel from a downturn in revenues, even nonprofit papers are feeling the crunch.
In an announcement this week, Street Roots says it will be laying off its entire staff of volunteer copy-editors. The move marks the first such voluntary lay-offs in the organization’s 10-year history.
The cuts were made in an effort to reduce expenses and trim overhead, and comes at a time when people are increasingly relying on the printed page for their news and information.
“The entire industry is feeling pressure to cut costs,” says Managing Editor Joanne Zuhl. “We jst felt that we could no longer justify the expensed of people sucking up an entire stretch of table, free coffee and water, not to mention the cost of heating and cooling them in the office, and for waht? We will coninue to support them it their efforts to volunteer elsewhere.”
Zuhl added that she expects readers have will not notice any change in the paper’s qualitty.
Columbia River crossing takes a new direction with tram proposal
Facing mounting criticism about a proposed multibillion-dollar, 12-lane bridge to replace the aging Interstate 5 span over the Columbia River, Portland Mayor Sam Adams is floating an alternate idea: a massive aerial tram.
“The financial and popular success of the OHSU tram makes this a possibility worth exploring,” the mayor said. “Plus, it’s got great ‘green’ potential. Think of it — no asphalt, no exhaust, and a less-obstructive view as huge cables ferry passenger vehicles and long-haul trailers in a dazzling aerial ballet over the mighty Columbia,” Adams said, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
“In fact,” he said, “there’s not much point in voting for it. It’s a great idea. Let’s just do it. It’ll pay for itself. Trust me.”
Noting that such a tram holds potential for drawing tourists even during Portland’s notorious rainy season, the mayor unveiled a test slogan for use by the Visitors Bureau: “Tram it where the sun don’t shine,” he said, chuckling uneasily.
Protest artists having a difficult time transitioning to Obama
Sitting in a downtown warehouse space among signage and paper mache puppets, protest and rally artist Howe Vignen seems out of sorts.
“I’ve really found myself at a creative impasse. What with this new administration, the demand for protests has really dropped off. I used to churn out all kinds of stuff. Nobody wants it anymore. But, truthfully, I don’t even know what I would make if someone asked.”
According to Petition Accountant Mary Grebe at City Hall, those applications are down 80 percent over last year.
Activist Jorge Britte, found at a recent nine-hole disc golf game at Kenilworth Park, told reporters that he just “can’t get a steam on, I’m just too hopeful that everything’s gonna be okay. I think we should just give it some time, three – four years maybe.” Gathering up his 170g driver disc, he got back into the game.
Meanwhile, back at the warehouse, the air riddled with dust motes, artist Vignen stares woefully at his triple-headed “Asses of Evil” puppet. “What am I supposed to do with this now?”