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Marathon man
by Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco (streetsheet [at] sf-homeless-coalition.org)
Tuesday Jan 23rd, 2001 2:53 PM
Next Wednesday night, starting at 7 p.m., Jeremy Alderson and his five-person crew will take over the front steps of the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, where they'll broadcast their show for 14 straight hours in the winter cold.
Where the heart is

Marathon man

by Kristen Lombardi


------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jeremy Alderson may be one of the few people left these days who still get mad as hell about homelessness in the United States -- mad enough to have actually done something about it for four years running.

"The driving force for me is outrage," says the New York radio journalist. "Outrage that people are sleeping in the streets and nobody says anything about it."

To get people talking about the homeless problem, Alderson first broadcast a 14-hour live radio show in 1997 in Ithaca, New York. Since then, the show, known as The Homeless Marathon, has spread to more than 30 stations across the country, including those in such major markets as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon.

This year, Alderson is bringing his marathon to Boston. Next Wednesday night, starting at 7 p.m., he and his five-person crew will take over the front steps of the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, where they'll broadcast their show for 14 straight hours in the winter cold.

Alderson doesn't pretend that spending one night outside is anything like being homeless. But for him, homelessness isn't just about not having a home. "It's about the entire structure of society," he says. "That we let people sleep in the streets says something about the real lack of humanity in our domestic policies."

There's no doubt that the homelessness problem continues to grow. The advocacy group National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that two million people nationwide went homeless last year alone. That's more than the populations of Boston, Atlanta, and Kansas City combined. A University of Pennsylvania study suggests that as many as 12 percent of Americans have experienced an episode of homelessness in the past 10 years.

Alderson's marathon is meant to raise awareness, not money -- and for good reason. "Charity is a fine thing," he explains, "but I don't want to encourage the view that homelessness is about charity for poor misfortunates." That's why the show features hourly segments on topics that would interest almost anyone, such as the gentrification of city neighborhoods and the dwindling of housing stock. This year's new programs focus on the connection between homelessness and characteristics like race, gender, and age.

Alderson promises a mesmerizing show. "People find themselves listening hour after hour," he says -- not because they feel they should, but because the broadcast is just that good.

Tune in to the Fourth Annual Homeless Marathon on WMBR (88.1 FM) from 7 p.m. on January 24 to 9 a.m. on January 25. Or visit the host site -- where Alderson will set up an open mike -- at the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, 1151 Mass Ave, in Cambridge.

END FORWARD

Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People:

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HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK list Info <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn>
Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Open ARCHIVES <http://projects.is.asu.edu/pipermail/hpn/>
Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp [at] earthlink.net>
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
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