Blogging for Homeless People


Because of my ‘poet’s-level’ income, I’ve long had a bit of interest in the lives of homeless people. Years ago I discovered there were homeless people who blogged, and one at least had a book made from her blog that did well enough that she became ex-homeless.

The homelessness thing really hit home after I had a stroke last year. My home was left unattended, my bills went unpaid, and the power and furnace were off so my pipes froze and the house became uninhabitable according to a social worker who was helping me.

Until the pipes got fixed (thanks to the State of Michigan, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Salvation Army) I had to be somewhere else. And due to some interpersonal issues with an angry shirt-tail relative, I ended up in the Menominee homeless shelter, and learned a thing or two about real homeless people. Some of whom are not too ‘crazy’ or impaired to create a blog.

Many homeless people have smartphones these days. There were lines in the common room at the shelter to plug phones in for recharging. Most to all of homeless persons are eligible for government poverty programs which would cover the monthly fee for a cell phone. (My SmartTalk phone plan is about $45 a month, and I think there are plans for even less.)

Homeless people would have to have a free blog from either Blogger or WordPress . com, which is OK. My blogs are free blogs, too. You can post to your blog via smartphone— I put both Blogger and WordPress apps on my phone when I was in the hospital. Blogging from a smartphone is a bit of an annoyance when you are used to using a laptop, but I managed it from a hospital after my stroke.

In the homeless shelter there was not much cell phone reception and no wifi, and since I was only there temporarily and was depressed at the time, I didn’t blog from the shelter. But if I had had to stay longer, there were local places with free wifi, such as the McDonalds. I could have ordered coffee or a bunless burger or breakfast sandwich, and stayed there long enough to write a blog post.

For more lengthy blog-work, one can go to a local library with computers. Go there on days when you have been able to get a shower and freshly laundered clothes, and tell the library folk you are a writer and have a blog (bloggers are writers) and the staff will be glad to help you out and may be honored to have you there. (They may think you are the next J. K. Rowling. They may be right!)

My phone takes pictures and videos. I don’t know how to put these on a blog post while blogging from my phone, but I’m sure I could find the information I needed in an internet search. Pictures and videos can liven up a blog. Be sure you don’t take any identifiable pictures of other people without their permission to use them on your blog! You don’t want to get in trouble and lose your blog over it.

It’s good to compose your blog post on something like Evernote, which is free and is an app for cellphones as well as being online. That way you can cut-and-paste your blog post rapidly to your blogging site, and you have a spare copy of the content in case your free blogging host takes your content down and you have to move it elsewhere. You may also want to save a copy to work into book form.

Attitude is the main roadblock for the homeless blogger. Being homeless is depressing because you feel that if you were a lovable or even likable person, you would have family members or friends who would let you stay with them in times of trouble.

But homelessness happens, and not just to the stereotypical homeless schizophrenic. Blogging can be a tool to help you cope, and it can have a good side effect in that you are raising ‘awareness’ of real homeless people and their real problems. If your blogging doesn’t lift you out of homelessness, it may be a big help to homeless people in general by encouraging more charitable giving.

And what if you don’t happen to be homeless? Let the example of homeless bloggers inspire you. If a homeless person can manage to blog, you can surely do it. And so can I.

Have you ever blogged during tough times? From unlikely locations? Tell us in a comment!

 

Lenten greetings to all my readers, friends & frenemies, from me & my cats, chickens & Attila the gander,

Nissa Annakindt

Visit my Facebook page (& I will visit yours): https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

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