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Author Topic: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.  (Read 12708 times)

stephendare

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Well today I will begin my adventure in Hemming Park, which will be a liveblog that explores what its like to hang out with the chess players, panhandlers, public urinators, public officiators, do gooding church people and their decent pinch faced, bitter evil cousins who eat pasta,  who hang out in the park.

In full disclosure, I already know a number of people in the park, several of them for many many years.

I decided to do this because of a recent discussion with a couple of old boomtown kitchen workers whose economic lives are very very poor, in which I realized that we are now living in two very very different worlds.

Not just based on poverty, (which is always kind of relative i think) but also based on a very deep digital divide between the poorest poor and anyone above poverty level.

Anyways, I will be reporting from the park daily for a while.  Hope you enjoy the result.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

PeeJayEss

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 03:00:32 PM »
I am excited for this one.

IrvAdams

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2014, 03:03:29 PM »
Looking forward to this. I'll bet there are some accomplished chess (and checker) players there.
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AuditoreEnterprise

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2014, 03:50:00 PM »
Looking forward to this. I'll bet there are some accomplished chess (and checker) players there.

Practice makes perfect right.
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spuwho

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 06:01:14 PM »
Look out for people who hang out in dog parks. He will be doing more than blogging in Hemming.

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2014, 09:03:20 PM »
Look out for people who hang out in dog parks. He will be doing more than blogging in Hemming.

In fact I already have been!
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2014, 02:59:53 PM »


Ok, I spent most of yesterday at the park, and did a little provisional scouting of the lay of the land.

The park has a lot of activity, and each little area has its own flavor and function.

For reference Ive mapped them out and here is my map key, (along with a few observations)

Its important to know that homeless people, especially the younger ones, form Street Families.  So often when you meet people, they will introduce you to their brothers/ sisters, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces etc..  This does not in any way reflect a blood or marriage relationship (although sometimes it does)  The relationship is one of friendship and grouping, and in Hemming Park, you basically choose which family relationship best describes your friendship with the other person in your 'family'.  So older guys will call younger guys 'nephews', or in cases where they are longtime companions they might be called stepsons, or sons.

Its actually pretty handy as the relationship descriptions are kind of like a social shorthand of what to expect from the various pairs and trios.

A family is a group of people who share information, cigarettes and food, and more often than not sleeping quarters, whether or not they are sleeping outside, in an abandoned structure, or the infrequent hotel room.

The different families have an ever changing set of alliances and makeups.  people will leave one family and join another, and families come and go in the park. They tend to be transitory things.  Some of them however have been associated with the park for a decade or more.

There are a bunch of people who don't fit into a family.  Either they don't really want companionship or they are a little anti social (and sometimes crazy) or are just passing through.  The area of the park for the unattached but still social people is what I call the Sorting Hat.

1.  The Sorting Hat.  This is where all kinds of various newcomers, passers through and unattached people hang out.  The tend mostly not to know the lay of the land very well, or are taking smoking breaks from the Library.

2.  The Hot Dog Stand.  This is the crime quadrant.  Not the hotdog stand people, because their part of the park is pretty cut and dried.  But traditionally the drug deals and various simmering situations happen over in this area.

3.  The Game Deck.  This is where the people who aren't homeless play epic games of chess and checkers.  While the games are watched by the travelers and hemming park people, this is some of the best entertainment drama to be found downtown.  Seriously professional chess playing old guys kicking the asses of younger acolytes.

4. The Chairless City Employees.  Some thunderously stupid person cut all of the tables and chairs out of this area.  They used to be on the City Hall side of the retaining wall, and it was where most City employees took in a bit of fresh air, smoked cigarettes, or cooled down from all those drama queens back in their offices.  Now they have no where to sit, so they stand around underneath the Awning of City Hall like passengers waiting for a train that just isn't coming, or they hoof it across the street and shift from one heel to the next, standing uncomfortably where the chairs used to be.

5.  The Alpha Family Tree. This is the raised stage area of the park immediately next to the skyway station.  This is where the alpha families hang out.  This is where the surprisingly hot younger street people hang out, make plans, sit underneath the shade of the skyway station, (which also serves as the closest shelter from the rain in the park) and easily connect to the various places along the Daily Migration via the skyway.  There is an undercurrent of energy, community, frank sexuality and discussion here, and to my way of thinking the most fun area to hang out.

6.  The Beta Family Tree.  This is a family conference area that also doubles as overflow for the anti social and sometimes crazy.  The families are loosely hierarchal, and they will all be sitting in little groupings along the walls and seating areas.  When a person is sitting alone over here, there is generally a good reason.

7.  The Conference Room.  This is where the dungeons and dragons guys hang out when they aren't in the library.  It is also a place where people go to have private family conferences away from prying ears.


Also notice the Selective Vision City Exit.  This is the path that all employees of the city take in order to mix with the rest of the city.  Hogan Street is a covered walkway because of the Skyway track, and the street is shady, so when people leave City Hall for lunch or the Landing, they generally walk down Hogan.  In order to get from the front door of City Hall, this is the path that they take, and the scene of much selective eye contact.  Any City employee can recognize one of the political tribe from 500 feet away along the exit path.  But everyone else is literally invisible.  Serious lunch room at private school territory through here.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 03:06:27 PM by stephendare »
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2014, 03:10:15 PM »
So a funny thing hanging out in the park.  A lot of people from the city saw the notice that I would be doing this yesterday, and came through the selective vision exit.  I was hanging out most of the time at the Alpha Family Tree with my friend Sima.  While there, Mike Field and Riverside Planner dropped by to say hello.  An amusing number of people waved, but seemed afraid of interrupting the live blog. (its ok, if you want to, drop by and say howdy).

Today I ran into Warren Jones and Denise Lee, and was able to chat with them for a while.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2014, 03:38:02 PM »
In actually sitting out here, one of the things that is somewhat striking is the multigenerational and post racial makeup of the families and groups.  For example I am sitting directly across from three members of one of the alpha families:  A mid twenties ginger, who looks a little thin, a mid thirties african american male and a young black girl in her late teens.  They are talking to a man in his late 40s..

There is a definite fragrance of beer over here, and earlier it was a very herb friendly environment.  Sabina Moreno and I were hanging out for the first part of today, and you could smell the distinct perfume of medicinal herbs being burnt.

Im also very surprised at the pansexuality on display in the park.  It should be expected I suppose.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

IrvAdams

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2014, 05:29:39 PM »
Stephen, this is really great stuff. Amazing the dynamics in this relatively small space. As with any social human setup since we lived in the grasslands, there are families and classes and pecking order and barter transactions. It's primitive and basic to us all.

Keep it up!
“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”
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TheCat

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 09:00:38 PM »
This is great.

spuwho

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2014, 11:59:35 PM »
Im also very surprised at the pansexuality on display in the park.  It should be expected I suppose.

Explain further.

Did you mean people were so alone they came to a park for any kind of relationship, or they feel like Hemming is a great place to start up a relationship period.

ChriswUfGator

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2014, 12:01:01 AM »
Hey at least it's not the dog park...


stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2014, 01:58:06 AM »
Im also very surprised at the pansexuality on display in the park.  It should be expected I suppose.

Explain further.

Did you mean people were so alone they came to a park for any kind of relationship, or they feel like Hemming is a great place to start up a relationship period.

no, just that there don't seem to be very friction between gay or straight people, and no separatist behavior regarding orientation.  There are lesbian couples with children who are living on the street, as well as former drag queens, and young girls (and boys) who are trading sex.  There are older women (each of whom is called 'mama') who are hardly disinterested in romance and hooking up, and the younger men are happy to display their muscles for any who care to look.

Its just a very pansexual kind of an environment.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 02:17:46 AM by stephendare »
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IrvAdams

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2014, 09:00:48 AM »
^^ Sounds like a judgment-free zone.
“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”
- Lao Tzu