As I left the library on Wednesday I headed for the lovely trees in bloom at the corner of the library. I was focusing on the perfect picture as a man behind me said “try to focus on the tree across the street with the other trees as frames.” I turned around to see a man with dreadlocks, braided hair, face covered with a beard and wearing a worn out jacket and dirty clothes. I recognized him from walking in downtown Ashland at various times. I often wondered who he was and what his situation was as an obviously homeless person.
I decided to introduce myself to him and strike up a conversation about who he is. I learned he is a photographer and a man of the streets who belongs to a tribe of people in his wandering world. He spoke about his life history as a young boy who wanted to follow his heart, not the organized world around him. He likes to travel freely from town to town joining many people who, like him, belong to different “tribes” and hold various belief systems. Wherever he goes he joins his tribe or tribes of street folks. They all take care of each other, share food and sleeping spots within the community. They take care of one another when ever and where ever they can: food, clothing, supplies, etc. My friend’s current goal is to, through the help of the resource center in Ashland, find a job using his photographic skills so he can help provide food for his tribe members and maybe even find some shelter.
We both exchanged our thanks for meeting; I hope to see him soon on our Ashland streets.