Like many street papers, Denver Voice regularly celebrates the talent of its vendors by publishing their writing. Barbara Bartlett’s “quirky and insightful observations on life” have made her a strong favourite with readers.
Her story Random Life Particles was a finalist at the 2015 INSP Awards in a category that praised vendor writing published across the international street paper network. We’re thrilled to share her experiences and thoughts on homelessness here, along with an introduction from Denver Voice editor Sarah Harvey.
Introduction by Denver Voice editor Sarah Harvey
I love vendor Barbara Bartlett’s endless optimism and hope. Those are two words not often associated with homelessness, but our vendor office is one of the most hopeful places in Denver.
Barb, a young woman with a college degree, is also not the kind of person someone typically pictures when thinking about homelessness. The VOICE publishes quite a bit of vendor content, but Barb’s quirky and insightful observations on life make her writing an outstanding example.
Random Life Particles
By Barbara Bartlett, Denver Voice Vendor, USA
I recently read on the wall of a bathroom stall in Denver that, “Everything happens for a reason. Usually it’s physics.” Being a quantum traveler, I tend to agree. I’m a chrononaut, a hitchhiker, an artist, a writer, I have a BA in Communications, and recently I became houseless. That’s how I put out my feelers and found the wonderful people at the VOICE.
I might have called it luck, God, or quantum thought bouncing, but when I really consider it I think it may just be a culmination of everything at once.
I rolled into the city of Denver in early July without any money, food, or shelter but for some reason there were no storm clouds on my horizon and that reason was an unfailing faith in human kindness and a sometimes annoyingly optimistic view about the universe.
So far I haven’t been proven wrong. Quantum thought bouncing is all about moving from one place to another, one event to another, and one person to another via thought and the effect that it has on the universe. I have been doing this for several years and have found that getting around from one place to another has become a much simpler task than many make it out to be. It leads me from person to person, job to job, and overall has enriched my life and made every day more fulfilling.
I’ve been all over the nation, met many quirky and fun loving people, and even seen unimaginable things, but what I’d like to impress upon readers the most is that becoming houseless is something that could happen to anyone. I never imagined that my life would take this sort of turn but the VOICE gave me a way out of a situation that would have seemed hopeless to many.
“I’ve been all over the nation, met many quirky and fun loving people, and even seen unimaginable things, but what I’d like to impress upon readers the most is that becoming homeless is something that could happen to anyone.”
I came to live in Denver through a series of interesting events and I am quite used to the daily grind of a job and a house. I am no stranger to hitchhiking and have been doing it for almost four years now on and off. Usually I am able to land after a good round of teleportations from coast to coast but this time around my circumstance changed and I was kicked out of my home after a family spat.
As a hitchhiker, thought bouncing has become my metaphor for life and I often say to myself that everything happens for a reason. It was no surprise to me to see it written down a few evenings after I arrived in Denver. I’ve also had a few people say it to me—and I believe—that God had a great plan in store for me when I ran into those unexpected things in life.
Hitchhiking has prepared me for the worst of being homeless because on the road I do sometimes run out of food or money. However, I have always found that people are kind to me and help me on my way as I travel to and from my destinations. This time around however I became houseless and that was a condition I did not necessarily want to be in but found myself in nonetheless.
Finding yourself alone and on the streets of a big metropolis can be a scary experience for anyone. When I first arrived in town thinking about how this has never happened to me before I found out very quickly that it happens all the time. I witnessed a man standing in traffic holding up a sign about losing his job and needing to feed his children and I thought to myself about all the ways I wanted to help him even though I had nothing to give. Being in a similar situation I have found since I got here that people are good and they are willing to help.
Solving the issue of homelessness in the future will require a community effort and a change in thought about who becomes homeless and why. As I have stated I am used to having a job and home but have found myself in a situation where I have suddenly lost those things. I am optimistic that I can get them back, but for many people this is a much more difficult task than it seems and the issue will remain until it is solved.
Since I’ve been here in Denver the endlessly hardworking people of the shelters, food distribution centers, and the good people at the VOICE have guided me from hungry to fed and jobless to employed. In the future, after this period of my life is over I hope to continue to volunteer at the VOICE and to be as kind toward other people as they have been to me.
The INSP Awards 2015 were held during the INSP Summit in Seattle earlier this year. After attending the event, Denver Voice published a special edition praising the street paper movement. Read the INSP report here.