Left to right: Aubrey Bauer, Sarah Louise Allen (with Pickle Baby), Neal Sand, Adonica Beavers, Lori Rodriguez.
People often ask what an evening of Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach actually looks like. The truth is, the streets can vary greatly from night to night but we do our best to be prepared for just about anything we might find out there (just take a look at Pickle Baby in the photo above, whom our team met at a First Thursday Art Walk event). In an effort to share with people what we mean by "anything"- and to further demysitify the practice of street outreach- we occasionally post random Yellow Brick Road log entries on this blog. The names and identifiers have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the folks we serve but otherwise the following account is edited directly from this month's Yellow Brick Road Outreach Log Book. This log is particularly interesting in that it underscores the kind of misinformation we occasionally encounter and the importance of educated harm reduction dialogue on the streets:
Tonight was a night filled with new contacts! Around 40% of the young people we met said they had not heard about street outreach before and they were very happy to see us...We decided to spice up our route and headed down to the Burnside/Powell stretch, dipping into the south side through O'Bryant Square (aka "Paranoid Park")...We strolled through Pioneer Square where we had some prime harm reduction philosophizing with some rather transcendental travelers after they claimed that it's "cool" not to wear condoms! Sarah astutely pointed out the risks of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, to which he responded with a very sincere, "What you don't know can't hurt you." It was noted that clearly not all proverbs are true and this seemed to leave quite an impression on the young man for further thought...
Next we headed down to Safeway where we had a nice conversation with "Primal" and "Sandy" and their lovely puppy. Then up to the Park Blocks where we encountered "Chance" who is hopefully getting into treatment this week and then planning to move on to Montana where he apparently has a home and a full-time job waiting for him! He was ecstatic to get our of Portland and had strong hopes that he would stay clean for good. We offered him congratulations and good wishes for his future.
After a heartfelt "thank you" from a longtime homeless man for everything Yellow Brick Road has done for him, we hopped on the MAX back to YBR headquarters. It was wonderful night overall.
~Yellow Brick Road Team (July 2011)