The Story Of 'We Are All Homeless'—The Dallas Artist Who Buys Signs From Homeless People

The Story Of 'We Are All Homeless'—The Dallas Artist Who Buys Signs From Homeless People

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When Willie Baronet sees a homeless person holding a sign that says “Homeless traveling man – please help,” he doesn’t follow the instincts of most passersby, looking away uncomfortably and walking faster. Instead, he makes an offer and a conversation.

Baronet, an artist and professor residing in Dallas, buys handmade signs from homeless people as part of an ongoing project titled “We Are All Homeless.” If they agree to sell their sign to him, he asks them to set the price. Most of them don’t ask for much—their costs almost always fall between $10 to $20.

Baronet came up with the idea of “We Are All Homeless” in 1993 as a graduate student. As he often caught himself not making eye contact with homeless people, he sought a way to confront his discomfort. It's an uneasiness and what seems like embarrassment that is shared by many of those who have never experienced homelessness. “This was a way for me to start a conversation,” says Baronet. “It was a way for me to change the dynamic between us.”

In July 2014, he and three of his friends embarked on a 24-day journey throughout the United States, getting to know vagabonds throughout the nation while shooting a documentary outlining his experiences through the course of this project. From city to city, Baronet talked to homeless people, asking to buy their signs and have them speak on camera. More than half agreed. Some declined, citing vanity and privacy as reasons for their reticence.

“We Are All Homeless” continues to teach Baronet much about both the people who he talks to and himself. People open up to him, telling him about their experiences from a homeless perspective and revealing how they came to be in those situations. A few admitted that they were on the run–sometimes from domestic violence situations, Baronet guesses. Hearing so many stories, he’s found that, “There are a lot of sad stories.”

Baronet foresees himself continuing this project “for as long as I live, apparently.” Previous exhibitions created in relation to “We Are All Homeless” include settings where homeless signs covered the floor, forcing visitors to walk on them, or where interactive surfaces invited people to write what “home” meant to them.

On January 21, another installation will be exhibited at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The journey is far from over. Baronet plans to incorporate homeless signs into quilt patterns, jewelry designs, and picture books outlining different meanings of home.

To him, it’s still about seeking new ways to present these signs to people and to appeal to their discomfort long enough for them to step back, confront, and understand.

“It’s not about whether we have a house or not,” he says. “I believe we all have human issues. It’s easy to want to say 'there’s the homeless and there are the people with homes.' And the truth is, we’re all the same. We’re all together.”

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10 Things I Threw Out AFTER Freshman Year Of College

Guess half the stuff on your packing list doesn't really matter
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I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college so WORRIED.

I also spent most of my money that summer on miscellaneous dorm stuff. I packed the car when the time finally came to move in, and spent the drive up excited and confused about what the heck was actually going on.

Freshman year came and went, and as I get ready to go back to school in just a few short weeks (!!), I'm starting to realize there's just a whole bunch of crap I just don't need.

After freshman year, I threw out:

1. Half my wardrobe.

I don't really know what I was thinking of owning 13 sweaters and 25 T-shirts in the first place. I wear the same five T-shirts until I magically find a new one that I probably got for free, and I put on jeans maybe four times. One pair is enough.

2. Half my makeup.

Following in the theme of #1, if I put on makeup, it's the same eyeliner-mascara combination as always. Sometimes I spice it up and add lipstick or eyeshadow.

3. My vacuum.

https://secure.img1-ag.wfcdn.com/im/d5ea3c03/resize-h2000-p1-w2000%5Ecompr-r85/3021/30217778/Express+6+Volt+Cordless+Bagless+Handheld+Vacuum.jpg

One, I basically never did it. Two, if I REALLY needed to vacuum, dorms rent out cleaning supplies.

4. Most of my photos from high school.

I didn't throw them ALL away, but most of them won't be making a return to college. Things change, people change, your friends change. And that's okay.

5. Excess school supplies.

Binders are heavy and I am lazy. I surprisingly didn't lose that many pens, so I don't need the fifty pack anymore. I could probably do without the crayons.

6. Cups/Plates/Bowls/Silverware.

Again, I am lazy. I cannot be bothered to wash dishes that often. I'll stick to water bottles and maybe one coffee cup. Paper plates/bowls can always be bought, and plastic silverware can always be stolen from different places on campus.

7. Books.

I love to read, but I really don't understand why I thought I'd have the time to actually do it. I think I read one book all year, and that's just a maybe.

8. A sewing kit.

I don't even know how to sew.

9. Excessive decorations.

It's nice to make your space feel a little more cozy, but not every inch of the wall needs to be covered.

10. Throw pillows.

At night, these cute little pillows just got tossed to the floor, and they'd sit there for days if I didn't make my bed.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.

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There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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