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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Profile: Cafe Options: A new way to bake a living.

Published November 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 10

text and photos by D. Giles Clasen

Women working at Cafe Options

The word non-profit rarely carries thoughts of pizzazz.  When the word is combined with restaurant, our minds may drift to something more akin to a soup kitchen than a fine cafe. But Cafe Options is a delicatessen downtown that has managed to combine non-profit with fine-food.

The restaurant, located at 1650 Curtis St., is a place where customers receive smoked meats, pickles and mustard all prepared from scratch. They give downtown diners a different option than many of the chain eateries along the 16th Street Mall.  It also provides the opportunity for a small staff of low-income women to develop precious job experience as well as job skills as prep cooks.

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Feature: Union Taxi- Fare Is Fair

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

text & photographs by D. Giles Clasen

After a three-year battle waged between Denver taxi companies, the Public Utilities Commission finally approved the creation of Union Taxi.

Ali Ahmed waits idle, fourth in line at a taxi stand in downtown Denver.  He worries about how his cab looks.  He takes a stocking cap from a cubby next to the driver side seat and cleans the side mirror before getting out of the car and walking to his friends, also waiting for fares, to talk.

The small group exchanges handshakes and hellos before their conversation goes one place—to Ahmed’s worn but newly painted orange taxi.

Ahmed is fourth in line today and will wait for his turn to give someone a ride.  But he is excited to wait; he has been waiting through a 3-year battle for the right to open a new cab company with 262 other taxi drivers. 

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Feature: Street Structures - Finding home on bivouac beds

Published: April 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 3

photography and text by D. Glies Clasen
EDAR photographs by Julie Yurth Himot

Mark Hedrick plays his harmonica trying to relax after a long day on the streets.Each night around 9 or 10, the traffic slows, and most weeknights, the city falls into a slumber.

That’s about the time the homeless men and women in Denver begin moving toward their campsites. 

They set up their bivouacs, temporary encampments under little or no shelter.

The lucky ones might have a tent or roof. 

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