This is a community

The poet T.S. Eliot once addressed a deeply disturbing question to city dwellers everywhere, a profound challenge to our consciences that cuts to the heart of everything that has gone wrong in our society.

Homelessness taught me gratitude

When one lives outdoors, and weather conditions are less than favorable, one sometimes wakes up freezing and soaking wet—not to mention flat broke. Under such circumstances, you can’t imagine the feeling of grati- tude that would overwhelm me as I succeeded in scraping up 63 cents for a senior cup of coffee at a Mac- Donald’s. At the store most frequented, they wouldn’t let us in if we didn’t have coffee change.

The curious echoes of Big Pink

Big Pink was finished 23 years before the civil war began in America. Big Pink was made from local cypress trees, impervious to the rot and insidious decay that time brings to most things, the living, the dead, and all those things in between and beyond.

Derrick Hayes: Street Spirit vendor, community member

Walking down Franklin Street in Downtown Oakland you’ll see a larger than life mural of a man in a baseball cap. With gentle eyes and a wide smile, he looks east over the city, watching over the people passing by. Small businesses line Franklin Street to the left and right. Below the mural is a parking lot, and shiny office buildings tower above. In between lies the portrait of Derrick Hayes, a 59-year-old homeless resident of Oakland who has been selling Street Spirit for almost 20 years.