Sunday, January 31, 2010

In the hoopla of applying for law school, getting my butt to karate class, and not letting my life fall apart- this little blog has been forgotten lately. I've now officially made the tranisition to MMJ (if you've read my previous blogs you know that means Multi Media Journalist). If you haven't been following me, I'll save you the rant that everyone else has been subject to, and just let you know that it means "jack of all trades." Today however I've been given the privilege of working with an actual reporter, so I have a few minutes to write.

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, stomach full of a glorious Subway sandwich, Jeannette and I head down to the creek to talk to a man "walking a mile in the shoes" of homeless people. Josh left his cushy Colorado Springs apartment to live in a tent just south of the Bijou street bridge. On a mission for God, his goal is to help the homeless people for the inside out. Instead of forcing them off the streets, he wants to get to know them, and use compassion to figure out the best option for each of them individually. Noble goal Joshua... but what about me?

Ok... no like that. What about my SAFETY? What about my ability to use the trail? Now, lets make one thing clear, I have compassion. Lots of it infact. I feel horrible that any person (addict of not) has to spend one freezing night in a tent along the creek. I don't even like camping in the summer, when it's nice out, and I have a bed to go home to the next day... so I feel their pain. But...

What about my safety? Walking along the side of the creek with my reporter, three young gentlemen, and of course the camera that is permanently attached to my hip... I am the one singled out for a thrashing. First I'm accousted by a screaming drunk (and his girlfriend) who kindly tell me not to put them on tv. Let me give you a little hint about how tv works...

If I'm following a gentleman walking down a path, and the lens is pointing toward him, chances are you aren't on tv. If you run toward the camera, as oppose to just stepping off to the side, I can't help the fact that you've just walked into my shot- and therefore are now on tv. If you would like me to stop shooting in your general direction, a simple polite request goes a long way.

That being said, I did put the camera down... not out of principle but sheer fear that the verbal accousting would turn into something physical and my nice new coat would be soiled. Plus the idea of getting shanked on this beautiful Sunday afternoon just didn't apply to me. Camera down (yes still rolling just in case) the scene continues to develop.

Drunk girlfriend manages to pull my lovely suitor back to the camps, but not before an aid worker (who was serving food along the water) comes to our party and kindly tells us to leave. Not in the mood to argue, I was grateful when my reporter stepped up to the plate to deal with this one.

"The camera is on the ground, and this is a public trail," she says.

"Yes, but they feel you are invading their privacy," is the rebuttal. "Frankly, I wouldn't like it if you came to my house and started shooting video."

Biting my tongue I keep my mouth shut. What I want to say is, "I have no probably coming to your neighborhood and shooting video. In fact. I do it all the time. It is my job. If you don't want to be seen (or captured on tape) you are more then welcome to go in your house. If they don't want to be on tape, they are more then welcome to sit in their tent. I have no intention of unzipping the flap and shooting through the opening."

But I dont. I keep my mouth shut. Eventually we start heading back to Josh's camp. A fair distance from my new friends tent I stop, set up my tripod, and commence doing my job... shooting video that is.

Almost immediately I hear a holler, luckily it is coming from across the water this time. "Hey you! You know you are being rude right now! You should probably ask people before you just start taking video of them! Oh, you are going to ignore me."

I look up, pretend like I don't hear anything, smile and start shooting again. Then the insults start flying. Here are just a few of them...

Apparently I embezzle money. I am rude. I am disrespectful. I need to sleep with one eye open- because he does have my drivers liscense and ID and will find me. He knows where I work and I sleep.

Sigh. Good thing it is such a pretty day. Five shots later I decide that the tirade is starting to ruin my good move and suggest we move on. Jeannette assures me that I'm a good person, so I promptly disregard all this mans claims. Still, it is hard for me to wrap my head around. I want to show compassion. I want to be respectful. At the same time, I want to use the trail. Everyone else can walk around wtih cameras... so what that mine is a bit bigger. If you want respect, then show me some respect.

I don't have a solution to the homeless problem... and I don't think I ever will. All I know is that today was gorgeous, homeless people don't like news cameras, and Josh has a lot of learning to do if he thinks that sleeping in a tent is going to magically solve all the city's homeless problems.

Here is the story that came of the day... not too shabby.

video