Homeless advocate Larry Bishop said he was tired of reading about homeless people being "dirty" in the comments on blogs all over Portland, and decided to get down to the East End of the Hawthorne Bridge with a clean up crew this afternoon. I stopped by at 2pm, to find Bishop, along with 3 others, had cleared up 10 sacks of garbage, a mattress, assorted cardboard, clothes, and a 24" Sony TV, from the unofficial green zone camp that's established itself under the bridge over the summer.
"What better way to show that we're people out here in need of housing who have respect for the community?" he asked. (Bishop is second from right, in blue).
"My stuff goes with me," said Donald Yates, left, who has been homeless for about 6 years. "I carry a bag of trash out with me every morning, but I always end up picking up other people's trash. There's homeless people like me who don't believe in mess."
Bishop has been out on numerous nights over the past week telling people he plans to do the clean-up. He says he wanted to be sure that if there was anything people needed, they'd have time to take it with them. "Most of this stuff was soaking wet and had been lying here for a long time," he says.
"In this progressive liberal city I've come across numerous articles that put homeless people in a bad light," says Paul De Jean, right, who has been homeless since his home was foreclosed on in January. "So when we saw this place we thought, next time they say homeless people are doing this or that, they'll be able to see we're doing something positive."
"I think this is a real good idea so we can show people that not all homeless people are trash," said Cindy, who didn't give her last name, but who has been homeless since May 2005.
When I left at 2:30, the unofficial campground was spotless.