While in Tucson over the last few days, there were rumblings amidst the locals about homeless youth that are spending time around the university and downtown arts district. Traveling by rail, these kids from the street, have landed in Arizona during the winter. Tucsonans had described these youth as Gutter Rats, Crust Punks, or Street Thugs. These gypsies, say some, have become a blight to the community and a public nuisance.
As chance would have it, upon finishing lunch in a downtown cafe, I was approached by this very group and asked if I could spare a few bucks. “Sure” I proclaimed, ” First, I have a few questions, if that’s ok?” I assured the bunch that I was not a cop but rather a gentleman working on a Project for society’s disenfranchised, misplaced and thrown away. I then began to ask questions about what I had overheard from the citizens of Tucson.
A young girl that was in her early 20’s named Fiona remarked that they are not angry hooligans but instead your ‘daughters and sons’. Kids that will not participate in wage slavery and shall not be chained to a desk for meager pennies while the company CEO lives in a mansion on the hill. She went on to mention that I was the first person since they had arrived in town to treat them like ‘people’ and thought it was “cool as fuck that I asked everyone’s name and presented each with ‘practice compassion’ bracelet”.
I learned Fiona is considering a return to Bloomington, Indiana where she would finish her last year of college, securing a degree in Environmental Science. Her traveling companions, Kenneth and Birkla have no such plans and are at the moment enjoying time on the road.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I would possess the courage to make such a statement at this tender young age. I admired their strength in conviction and pray that we as a country address social and economic issues before we lose more of our precious youth to revolt, the street or worse yet, apathy about what lies ahead.