Ace and I got a lot of perspective on our 116th show, with OSA Founding Director Chloe Noble as our guest. Some examples: There are people in America who are fourth-generation homeless. Transgender African-American homeless youth have a 7 in 10 chance of dying on the streets. Forty percent of homeless youth are self-identified as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc.).
And so many of the homeless are so good at hiding — they have to be, because it’s so dangerous out there — that what we think we see and understand isn’t really what’s going on.
Chloe is a remarkable woman who experienced homelessness at a young age, then resolved to bring national attention to youth homelessness. She started by walking 3,000 miles. Now she’s working to organize homeless youth nationwide.
On the show, Ace talked about his own experience of homelessness in L.A. I told the story of a friend who managed to get off the streets with a little help, only to volunteer to return to them rather than watch someone lose their house over a mortgage payment.
Along the way we learned what it means to “shine” (in a nutshell, to be authentic), and I learned a new word, spange — slang for what most people I know call panhandling, especially when they’re enacting laws against it. Chloe has another term for it: “self-petitioning”. She talked about how homeless youth have the incredible capacity to “shine” even in those brief moments when they find themselves in a place where survival isn’t the first thing on their minds.
May 14, 2011 is National Shine Night, an opportunity for homeless youth to “Shine With Whatever You Got!” and “to celebrate authenticity without fear”, according to the OSA website. Plans are underway for shines to happen in 25 American cities. If there’s one happening in your city, check it out. Marvel at the resilience of the human spirit. Then resolve to make a difference — and make that YOUR shine.