Who is My Neighbor? : Communicating and Organizing to End Homelessness book cover
1st Edition

Who is My Neighbor?
Communicating and Organizing to End Homelessness

ISBN 9781594516481
Published October 30, 2009 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

Who Is My Neighbor? is a compelling account of the author's ten-year journey as a volunteer at the St. Francis Center, a homeless shelter in Denver, Colorado. A retired Professor of Communication, Phil Tompkins marshals his considerable experience as a participant observer in recording the voices of the guests of the shelter as they teach us about their situation. We learn about their hopes for regaining a home and their fears as they are victimized-in some cases even murdered. Tompkins shows how effective communication and organization can contribute to finding an end to homelessness and establishing a movement toward protective action, especially when a proactive local government gets involved. In addition to giving voice to homeless people, Who Is My Neighbor? explores Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's ambitious Commission to End Homelessness. This remarkable social experiment, now called Denver's Road Home, is two years into implementing an innovative plan for ending homelessness. It provides a model for other cities nationwide where persistent homelessness has defied resolution.

Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1: Down and Out and on the Road Chapter 2: Christmas in St. Francis Center: Entry, Socialization, and Assimilation Chapter 3: The History of Homelessness: America and Denver Chapter 4: Mother Teresa, Liminality, and Abeyance Chapter 5: Seasons, Cycles, and Relative Deprivation Chapter 6: Police Harassment and Degrees of Being Chapter 7: The Social Construction of Killers by Means of Communication Chapter 8: The Visible Hand of Compassion Chapter 9: An Existential Look at Homelessness Chapter 10: A Crisis Meeting at the Shelter Chapter 11: The Collective Discipline of Compassion Chapter 12: Charity Versus Justice Chapter 13: The Faces of Homelessness Chapter 14: Denver's Road Home Notes

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“A must read for anyone interested in creating a community-wide response to a complex social problem. Tompkins describes the tools used to create a movement for social change.”
—Roxane White, Former Chair of Denver’s Commission to End Homelessness

“In Who Is My Neighbor? Phillip Tompkins asks the right questions about homelessness in America. … Tompkins’s compassionate meditation does not have all the answers, but rather reflects the author’s willingness to put himself on the line by volunteering in the trenches while actively engaging the essential intellectual task of thinking through what the answers will turn out to be.”
—Thomas A. Hirschl, Professor of Sociology, Cornell University

“Phillip Tompkins blends a sophisticated analysis of the social, political, and economic conditions that have contributed to homelessness in the United States with a thoughtful examination of the communicative features of homelessness. This blend contributes greatly to a growing body of literature on urban communication, helping us understand better the ways in which communication in everyday urban life can transform individuals and communities.”
—Daniel Makagon, College of Communication, DePaul University

"This dynamic book is a must-read for communication scholars/activists interested in the social, communicative, and pragmatic aspects of fighting homelessness. While grounded firmly in the social scientific and organizational communication literature on homelessness, Tompkins personalizes and humanizes the statistics and the lives of the people he serves.”
—Journal of Communication & Religion

“Tompkins’s book takes us on a ‘road trip’ for the mind as we see through his eyes a decade of experience in volunteer work for a homeless shelter. … Overall, the book is a great read and offers marvelous insight into a difficult social problem.”
—Gregory Desilet, author of Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment Violence

"I love this book. It is beautifully written, thoughtful, and thought provoking.”
—Dan Lair, University of Denver