The Dallas Public Library has a fraught relationship with downtown's homeless population, on the one hand reluctantly accepting that they are members of the "public" the institution was built to serve, while simultaneously wishing they weren't.
So feel free to be deeply cynical about the library's new "Homeless Engagement Initiative," which launched last September. At least it's produced an intriguing podcast.
Yes, a podcast. The library has tapped local homeless dude Rashad Dickerson to host Street View, its just-launched series offering an on-the-ground view of life on the streets.
Episode 1, which dropped last week, is an introduction in which Dickerson interviews various library staff, including director Mary Jo Giudice, about their efforts to tackle the library's homeless issues.
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Sounds dry, but its a fascinating dialogue. The rhetoric occasionally approaches hyperbole ("I think we're kind of embracing the issue instead of [just] addressing it," says library community outreach coordinator Jasmine Africawala; "We got together to perpetuate humility between all individuals across all walks of life," Dickerson offers), but Dickerson is an intelligent and eloquent representative of Dallas' homeless community, and the library staff come across as genuinely interested in improving their relationship with the unhoused. At the very least, It's worthy of a listen.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.