former homeless songwriter, chris scott’s story

Homeless Lessons Learned was produced by Andrew Diffee, a talented young college student majoring in videography. While looking for subject matter for a required video production assignment, Andrew and I crossed paths outside The Contributor office downtown. Intrigued by the details of my living situation, and my positive attitude and outlook in the midst of it all, he decided to tell my story. We arranged a shooting date on a Sunday afternoon, and armed with a film crew and a pizza, production began.

I have lived and survived the last 18 months in the woods on the back side of Fort Negley (coincidently named after General James Scott Negley). That makes me a veteran with an honorable discharge who has lived on a former military installation all while trying to establish himself in a new city. But on December 3rd, 2010, after a long, hard “tour of duty,” I finally moved into an apartment. (Selling The Contributor had a lot to do with that.)

Life is different when you have a roof over your head and a safe place to go. For me, that has become an achievement and a reality. But for so many of my dear brothers, sisters and friends, it is not within their reach at this point in time. I know what they are going through every night, night after night, with no place to go, no place to be. Wherever they try to lay their heads, they end up being either ticketed or incarcerated for trespassing.

During the entire 18 months I camped on that hill, I was never ticketed or jailed for trespassing. I did, however, have everything I own dragged down the hill and thrown in the back of a garbage truck–twice! (It’s much easier the second time.) I made it through Nashville‘s coldest winter in 30 years in a tent I built myself. I survived the flood of 2010 and didn’t lose one thing to the rising waters. I did whatever I had to do to make it happen, help my fellow-man, and survive. How I did it and what I learned over that period of time is the focus of Homeless Lessons Learned.

Armed with a plan to alleviate the plight of my brothers and sisters on the street, those who attend the screening will learn about ways they can get involved. I believe that 2011 is going to be a year of growth and change for a lot of folks. Things are going to get better. I have seen so much happen in 2010 and I know that we’re just getting warmed up. Things can’t stay the way they are. Justice must prevail for everyone. We are Americans! And more importantly, we’re family. Together we’re stronger–as individuals as a community, and as a nation.

a man with a story to tell…of compassion… for all…hugmamma.

Note: A public screening of Homeless Lessons Learned, a 45-minute documentary, was held on 1/12/11 at Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church (DPC).

Advertisements

“something in common,” an actor and a homeless songwriter

Just saw the Academy Award‘s tribute to singer/actress Lena Horne, with actress Halle Berry doing the honors. Ending the segment was a black and white flashback of Ms. Horne singing “Stormy Weather.” When the picture faded, the screen was left with words attributed to her.

It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s how you carry it. 

While they undoubtedly speak to the centuries-old African-American struggle, they seem equally befitting of the plight of the homeless in our society. Ms. Horne was the first black actor to sign a long-term contract with MGM studios. Perhaps someone like Chris Scott, a formerly homeless songwriter will be the breakthrough star on behalf of all those living on the streets, or in less than adequate or desirable housing.

Happy Homeless Camper
by Chris Scott (formerly homeless songwriter)
chrisfieselman@aol.com

On October 28th, 2010, I had all my possessions confiscated and disposed of by the powers that be–for the second time. This song was written on October 29th, the day after.

Like a leaf on the wind blowing down the street
Backpack carrying everything I need
Like a Bedouin gypsy or refugee
Always seem to catch them staring at me
Well I do OK to make it through the day
But it’s a fight to survive the night
Find a little place that’s out of the way
And try to stay out of sight

Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head
A tent’s protection from the elements
And a sleeping bag for a bed
I don’t need a lot…Just a little spot…
And I promise not to make a mess
Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head

Now trying to get by and live a simple life’s
Not as easy as it seems
There’s a price to pay when you live this way
Trying to chase your dreams
Find a good spot in the woods that’s not
A problem or disturbing the peace
And sooner or later someone’s gonna make you
Pack up all of your stuff and leave
Usually it’ll be the police

Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head
A tent’s protection from the elements
And a sleeping bag for a bed
I don’t need a lot…Just a little spot…
And I promise not to make a mess
Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head

Why can’t they leave well enough alone
We’re trying to make it on our own
In the struggle to survive
We’re fighting for our lives
With no place to stay and no place to call home

Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head
A tent’s protection from the elements
And a sleeping bag for a bed
I don’t need a lot…Just a little spot…
And I promise not to make a mess
Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head

know anyone in need of a lyricist?…hugmamma.

poems, “the homeless”

Got a copy of the “homeless” newspaper from a city where a friend lives. It ran several poems written by formerly homeless citizens. I wanted to share three with you.

Cell of the Mind
by James T. Meeks

Staring silently into space
Trying to remember
The time and place.

Thinking of a hidden feeling
Hidden away
Only to awake staring at the ceiling.

I’ve been locked away
From the one I love
Maybe there will be a day.
(I’ll find a way!)

To express the way I feel
But the card man
Won’t get for real.

He keeps dealing the King of Hearts
I wish he’d deal the deal
Before it starts.
(And breaks both our hearts!)

Homeless
by Lydia Macklin

What does it mean to me?
Of course it means no roof
over my head, a place to
someday call home.
It means no address or phone numbers
to put on job applications.
It means carrying your belongings
in a sack on your back.
It means unfamiliar bed and people
every night.
It sometimes means awful food that
you have to eat so you won’t
be hungry.
It means forever watching your
back ’cause you don’t know
who your real friends are.
It means sleeping with one
eye open ’cause you don’t know
what people might do.
It means people look through
you ’cause they don’t want
to see you as a human ’cause
that would mean you’re
just like them.

Looking Back
by John El

Well looking back
To see where love went wrong
Trying to understand and still stand strong
Just how you made a fool outta me
Looking back to forgotten memories
Well it seems like I was always outta sight outta mind
I guess that’s why they say that love is blind
For a nickel’s worth of love is not worth a dime
And looking back
Some women are like the wind
Here they come and gone again
For lovers and strangers
That’s all they are
Chasing rainbows and wandering stars
‘Cause looking back
These things I already know
So if the conversation leaves you in doubt
Pack up your things and go
And now I’ve grown old and my hair is turning gray
When I hear the same old lines I just laugh and walk away
And looking back
I catch myself whisper her name
And it’s a mystery to me that drives me insane
So don’t remember what I said but what I had to say
Looking back
Only brings heartaches and heartbreaks of yesterday
So
Don’t
Look
Back
No
Don’t
Look
Back

Tender sentiments belonging to those who have lived on the edges of society. These words do not belong to me or to you, so if you repeat them, give credit to those who wrote them. For it’s obvious they rose up from the depths of their souls.

hugs for the homeless…they are you and meturned upside down…hugmamma.