The following is the preface to “Atreus’s View From a Tent” which is now available in print or as a eBook on Amazon
Atreus, a homeless man, living primarily in an outdoor shelter in Seattle, shared the following thoughts, letters, and notes with me over three years.
These musings come from a man who was crushed by violence and loss.
His reflections give hope to many who find themselves in similar
situations, living on the outskirts of society.
Atreus would slip me a handwritten sheet folded into a
They were given as surreptitiously as possible with little fanfare on how he passed them to me.
Over time I would ask questions or hand him a question I had written out for his consideration.
Sometimes, I would get an answer, and other times he would ignore my request.
Many of his notes were posted on our Let Kids Be Kids, Inc., company website or shared with groups I addressed to humanize those we often ignore.
His stories of fellow homeless seem to touch a chord with people much more than statistics and bland descriptions of the poor and homeless.
I have not included all of his notes, concentrating on those related to his journey over the few years I knew him.
I was one of several volunteers that interacted with various
homeless people in shelters, on the streets, and in the city parks.
I am not sure why he chose me, but I am proud and touched by his trust and openness.
His thoughts and observations dovetail with my experiences and
insights into a group of people that are often marginalized for their station in society.
Driven by the interest in the postings on our website and blog, I decided to write the book giving author credit to Atreus, his pseudonym of choice.
I have tried to transcribe and interpret accurately his very challenging handwriting.
I regret that I never considered he would leave Seattle before I had an opportunity to go over his writings with him with publishing in mind.
If he ever sees this little book, I hope it brings a smile to his face.
I was thrilled by the book’s success, then entitled “View from the Tent” by the public and by many organizations working with people experiencing homelessness.
I was approached by a member of the clergy at Seattle’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral to consider using the book as a fundraising vehicle in support of the homeless living in tents.
At the time, a well-known Seattle actor and member of Saint Mark’s community had read the book. A church Deacon approached him to measure his interest in dramatically presenting the book to various non-profits, community groups, and churches hosting homeless camps.
He loved the idea.
After several meetings, we agreed that I would furnish the books at no cost. The book sales price would be determined by the church, non-profit or community group, to maximize their fundraising goals.
Over the years, thousands of books were sold, contributing to purchasing tents, cots, a portable shower, and meals when volunteers could not furnish an evening meal.
The homeless community has changed since Atreus shared his story.
He mentions the challenges of mental illness, addiction, physical disabilities. However I imagine he never foresaw the crisis, so many cities are experiencing with growing numbers of homeless on their streets.
My experience is that drugs have changed the nature of the homeless community dramatically.
I have no answers to this growing challenge.
The COVID pandemic required I step away from my day-to-day encounters with many living on the streets.
Over the years, I have known several clergy members who genuinely live their beliefs and have dedicated their lives to making life “ a little better” for those in their community.
Special thanks to:
Father Jim Lowry
Reverend Mary Gould
Reverend Jonathan Neufeld
Reverend Jim Bridges
Rabbi William Weiss
Reverend Melanie Neufeld
Father William Gill S.J.
Reverend Rick Reynolds