Entries in December 2009 (7)

Tuesday
Dec012009

Feature: Suburban homeless (the travel trap)

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

text and images by D. Giles Clasen

For a Minnesota country-man, coming to Colorado meant becoming homeless, and inching ominously closer to the city every day.

Terri Schweppe does not belong in a city. His handlebar mustache, black cowboy hat and duster expresses clearly that he is a man more comfortable in a small town than downtown.

When he moved to Denver, it was a move full of both tragedy and hope.  He drove his unreliable van from Minneapolis, across the barren cornfields of the Midwest, to Colorado’s Front Range expecting to find open air and a job.

But Schweppe didn’t find the sanctuary he expected. Instead, he quickly became homeless.

It is one more setback for Schweppe, who moved after his identical twin, Larry Schweppe, died of a stroke in April. “I have been a little lost without him,” Schweppe admits.  “He was my compass.  I sometimes feel like when he died I lost my identity.  Now I have lost everything.”

The two had been roommates and best friends. Schweppe continues to carry Larry’s birth and death certificates.  He handles them gently and with great reverence when he shows them.  He pulls out his brother’s Minnesota driver’s license.  

"I only know how to do two things. I know how to work with the dirt and I now how to cook. I work hard and I’m honest. Those qualities don’t amount to much when you are trying to get a job.” — Terri Schweppe

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Tuesday
Dec012009

Feature: Man in the van 

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

by Dwayne Pride

Undeterred by the loss of a job, Oregonian Aaron Heideman turns his van into a home to canvas America.

Artprize is a national contest for fine artists and emerging artists from all around the world. It is said to be one of the largest prizes that an artist can hope to win to get recognized for his or her craft. All of the winners are chosen by the public. The top prize is $250,000. For most, when they think of somebody that would be part of a contest like this they would not think of a poor man,  a homeless man, as one of its participants. Artist/ driver Aaron Heideman aka “The Man in the Van” proves this theory wrong.

“I don’t want to panhandle,” reiterates Aaron Heideman.

After losing jobs during the recession his life was more than just a struggle. He hit rock bottom. But he took a creative angle on his situation and found some freedom from a 9 to 5 with a road trip that would eventually take him through at least 30 States in America. His mission: to make an enormous tapestry of people’s experience of the recession. State by state, city by city, he collected words.

His project started out in Medford, which he calls home. Driving through places like Portland, Fresno, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver, he met all types of people and had them share their experiences from a sagging economy and what it has done to their lives.

People wrote their individual stories on rolls of 50-foot waterproof, tear-proof white tyvek paper.  All he asked them was,  “How has the recession affected you?”

“There is No Recession”

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Tuesday
Dec012009

Art Feature: Sterling Crispin

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

interview by Travis Egedy

Twenty-three-year-old Sterling Crispin is one of Denver’s most unique and exciting up and coming artists. Primarily working in video and digitally manipulated photography, his work explores many ideas on society’s current entanglement with technology and where we are headed as both biological and artificial organisms in the future.  A graduate of Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design fine arts department, and a current artist in residence at Redline Studios, Crispin is part of a loose-knit group of radical young artists who are interested in pushing the Denver art community forward into a new era. These young artists are part of a new avant-garde for the recession generation, working with found materials, holding art shows in converted warehouses and critiquing the status of art in both Denver and the world.  I was able to sit down with Sterling to eat some burritos, pet a cat and discuss the inevitable fusion of man and machine.

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Tuesday
Dec012009

News Briefs: Colorado's unemployment rate fares better than the nation

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

Unemployment rates in Colorado are beating the national trend. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the national unemployment rate at 10.2 percent while Colorado’s rate declined slightly from 7 percent down to 6.9 percent.

Tuesday
Dec012009

News Briefs: Growing hungry 

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

Fifty million people struggled for food in 2008, or one out of every six people according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This included 16.7 million children. Among household types, several stood out at rates above the national average of 14.6 percent. Families living below the poverty line had a 42 percent rate of food insecurity; single mother households had 37.2 percent; and Hispanic households and Black households had just over a 25 percent rate of food insecurity. Food security has only been tracked since 1995, when rates were around 10.3 percent and had a slow rise to 11.1 percent by 2007. They have spiked in the last year.  As households struggle with the effects of the recession, those who experience hunger are expected to continue to rise. Colorado’s rate was 11.6 percent. The state with the lowest rate was South Dakota at 6.9 percent and the highest was Mississippi at 17.4 percent.