Life sure sped up since last I wrote here!
I landed in Union Station last Tuesday, just in time to help Anthony prepare for the KNO Happy Hour at Cities. We crossed streets that afternoon like true New Yorkers, even in 103-degree weather. This may have been my favorite part of the week. While walking around a melting Capitol, shopping for supplies, Anthony told me the stories behind KNO Clothing. He talked about college, his friendship with Stephen, and how the partnerships with 100,000 Homes and Bethesda Mission came to be.
Those stories showed me the living and breathing core of the KNO Clothing movement. There was a sense of inevitability-- of a friendship grounded in compassion. Somewhere behind my sweat-fogged sunglasses, DC’s humidity became irrelevant.
But before I get all Twilight Zone-y-- because it was actually really hot outside-- let me say that the Happy Hour was great fun. We had a reserved space to host our guests and put out some new KNO merchandise!
Thank you to all who came and to Cities Restaurant and Lounge!
Friends from the Department of Defense and Grameen Foundation came. We also got to spend the night at Cities with some of the awesome people of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. Jessica Venegas, Kat Johnson, Becky Kanis, and Jake Maguire are all integral members of 100K and their laughter and their commitment to ending homelessness livened the night. Becky-- the program director-- even showed me her unfinished tattoo!
Crazy, right? I love it! The surprising typo celebrates reaching 100K’s first-year goal to house 10,000 people by July 2011. Let’s help Becky finish her tattoo by July 2013!
Our DC events did not stop with new ink and new buttons, however. (Oh, shameless plug, where did you come from?!)
On Wednesday, Anthony spoke at a pre-conference session for the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference. I came away smiling for two reasons:
1. I realized I am a lazy college student.
Confused? I have a secret which may not be so secret. College students can work hard when we feel like it. But that conference was mind-boggling proof that college kids have it easy. I was surrounded by people who labor tirelessly, every day, and all towards an honorable end. Like Anthony, I felt like I was sitting in a room full of heroes. Scholarly procrastination tucked its tail and ran away.
2. I loved the clapping and laughter.
I assumed homelessness could only be a depressing subject. Thinking about loneliness, danger, and becoming a social pariah should probably make me feel this way. Yet, there was a kind of wise optimism-- a hope equipped with strategy-- at NAEH 2011. I am so glad to have witnessed the humor and happiness of those attending.
The funny thing is that just the night before I had been worried about what I could possibly to do help this mission to end homelessness. Even if I worked hard, what could emails and blogging ultimately do? Jessica Venegas from 100,000 Homes looked me straight in the eyes when I shared this and she said, “Policy jargon is just that.” She continued by telling me to confidently write the stories of people because therein lay undeniable truth. Real people and real stories could not be argued with. Homelessness and its end could have voices. So, here I am, starting with my own time in DC with KNO.
I’ll introduce David next. I met him on the corner of 18th and I Street. I had just read the newspaper…